New residence bolsters York’s “green” tradition



Above, left to right: Eileen Mercier, Chair of York’s Land Use Committee; Gary Brewer, VP finance & administration; Peter Struk, assistant VP facilities, planning & construction; Lorna R. Marsden, York president and vice-chancellor; Rhonda Lenton, dean of Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies; and Bonnie Neuman, VP students and alumni

Bright umbrellas made a great splash of colour in contrast with the large splashes of rain when the new Pond Road Residence ground-breaking ceremony took place on May 20.

Officials gathered at the northwest corner of Pond and Atkinson roads, where the playground for York’s Cooperative Daycare Centre used to stand, and gamely dug shovels into the wet earth to signify the start of construction on York’s latest “green” building. The residence will open in time for the 2004-2005 academic year.

Standing just south of Atkinson College, Pond Road Residence will have a five-storey podium with a nine-storey concrete tower boasting concrete-and-glass cladding. “The construction makes use of sustainable materials that minimize embodied energy while maximizing recycled material content,” say the building designers, Architects Alliance/Planning Alliance.

The new 14,000-square-metre, $25-million structure will provide 442 beds in total, of which 420 are in two-bedroom suites. There will also be a ground-floor common area with laundry space, study area, games and TV room; 10 suites for dons; a resident life coordinator suite; and two guest suites.

Among the building’s interesting features – which include a landscaped courtyard creating a central focus for the residence – is the 1,000-square-metre roof garden which, say the architects, will increase thermal insulation and provide outdoor access for residents on upper floors. Corridors around the courtyard will provide informal meeting and gathering spaces on all floors.

All units face either south, east or west, and maximize sunlight in all the two- and four-bedroom suites.

Some of the other “green” initiatives incorporated into the residence are:

  • in-slab radiant heating and cooling system
  • heat recovery on exhaust air
  • grey water heat recovery
  • sun-shading devices on south and west elevations
  • environmentally friendly finishes (carpet, paint etc.)

Below: Architect’s rendering of new residence