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Trent University Student Centre

Evolving with Respect

Teeple Architects

Canada is one of those countries where education and research are held in high esteem, enjoying both government support and private patronage. As a result, this vast country’s many universities and colleges - almost in superabundance to population density - are being updated and equipped with new facilities to meet the ever-changing requirements of preparing the next generation. In this context architecture, in the widest sense of the term, has always been a key player, an agent working for the greater good - although architects have to do their work within increasingly constrained budgets. At the risk of appearing blasphemous, it could be said that like Italy, where even the remotest little village has a church with something of great beauty, similarly every Canadian university campus has an example of beautiful architecture. Whether part of an older urban fabric like Toronto or a unit unto itself, detached from an urban context - as is the case examined here - universities buildings clearly outline the trends and stylistic developments of Canadian architecture over the last fifty years as well as the connections maintained between past masters and the subsequent generation of architects. Whether pavilion, research center, library or student dorm, university buildings have long been a highly readable narrative of the formal research and practical implementation of the country’s architectural development. Trent University is no exception. Founded in 1964 in Peterborough - a city slightly to the east of Toronto - the university, created to give educational possibilities to the people of the Trent river valley, was designed by Ron Thom, one of Canada’s most renowned architects who died in 1986. Thom’s geometrical tetragonal architecture in the Brutalist style defines the “urban plan” of the whole campus. The centerpiece of the complex is the Bata Library. Located on the edge of the Otonabee River, its unrendered concrete...

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