Massey College

11/1/2009 Uncategorized

Massey College, a graduate-level residential college at the University of Toronto, was one of several interesting places I was taken while attending an urban design workshop in Toronto last week. The College, designed by Ron Thom in 1963 as a cloistered enclave that turns its elegantly composed back to the city, has a humanizing scale and gemütlich character that is unique within the context of much more monumental work being done in North America during the same period. The architecture is equal parts Frank Lloyd Wright, Eliel Saarineen (via Cranbrook), and Harry Potter. 

The dining hall (shown below) is the culmination of a spatial sequence that begins at the elaborate gate to the college, continues past sunken pools in the courtyard, into a well-proportioned entrance hall with glimpses into a sitting area, and then up broad stairs in a double height space that is reminiscent of Dudok’s Town Hall in Hilversum, the Netherlands (1924-31).

Shim Sutcliffe did a series of elegant interventions in the late 1990s, including the Carlo Scarpa-inspired firewood storage area shown below. Brigitte Shim, host for a lunch for the out-of-town workshop participants, is a fellow at the College.