Global design practice Perkins and Will has raised the bar for sustainable campus design with the award-winning Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex, a Ryerson University facility designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. As an example of “vertical campus typology,” the 28-story tower combines academic departments, residences, labs, administrative offices and even a rooftop urban farm in Toronto’s dense downtown core. Completed in 2019 for $104 million CAD, the health education tower was crowned the 2021 Best Tall Building Award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

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Located on the east side of Ryerson’s campus near Yonge–Dundas Square, the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex offers nearly 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art living and learning space and serves as a new gateway into campus. The striking high-rise is wrapped in expansive glazing along with white aluminum panels punctuated by vibrant orange accents. As part of Ryerson University’s goal of shaping the future of Toronto, the eye-catching tower features public spaces woven throughout the building. An atrium at the street level also activates the public realm with a café and study spaces. The café kitchen uses fresh produce sourced from the urban farm on the roof.

Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto

orange robotic machine in a laboratory
nursing students changing sheets in a bed in hospital classroom

The first eight stories of the building house four academic departments — the Schools of Nursing, Midwifery, Nutrition and Occupational and Public Health — with classrooms, teaching kitchens and labs. The tower also includes a digital fabrication lab that is visible from the outside, flexible research facilities and university administration offices. Residence dorms occupy the upper levels of the tower and house up to 330 students. Accessibility is made seamless throughout to encourage inclusivity, collaboration and community.

people in white coats inside a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and counters
students sitting at long white table near a glass wall

In addition to a productive green roof, the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex integrates a variety of environmentally friendly features including low-impact materials; a graywater recycling system for the faucets, toilets and showers; and a metering and monitoring system that allows residence students to see their energy and water consumption online. The architects expect that the building will use 32% less energy and consume 35% less potable water compared to traditional construction.

+ Perkins and Will

Photography by Tom Arban via Perkins and Will