Networked to the future


Above, left to right: York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden; York Vice-President Finance & Administration Gary Brewer; Rajula Atherton, Chair of the Seneca Board of Governors; Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan; TEL architects Jason Moriyama and Daniel Teramura (obscured) and Seneca President Rick Miner celebrate after the ribbon cutting ceremony held at the TEL Building’s official opening

There’s a network to the future embedded into the structure of the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building, and it goes far beyond the fibre optics and the state-of-the-art facilities. It’s a connection that speaks to a partnership between two postsecondary institutions that are working together to offer the best educational opportunities to their students.

Yesterday, within the four-storey centre atrium that runs the length of the building, officials from York University and Seneca College officially opened TEL. Amid the natural light, burnished stainless steel trim and pale limestone flooring, speaker after speaker praised the joint dream and drive that brought TEL from the drawing board into reality.

Left: The centre atrium allows natural light and fresh air to permeate throughout the TEL Building

The 360,000-square-foot facility, which has a total price tag of $88-million, was partially funded by a $46.9-million grant from the government of Ontario. The building brings together York’s theoretical expertise and Seneca’s focus on applied knowledge under one roof.

“Our investment in the TEL Building indicates the importance the government of Ontario places on bolstering the learning opportunities for students,” said special guest David Caplan, Ontario’s minister of public infrastructure renewal. The grant awarded to the TEL project is the largest single grant awarded to any project in the government’s infrastructure program.

“This is truly a beautiful building and a tremendous workplace for students, faculty and researchers at York,” said Lorna R. Marsden, president & vice-chancellor of York University. “The TEL Building’s state-of-the-art technology redefines the classroom by allowing teaching and learning to take place outside their traditional limits – which is what we always strive for at York. The TEL Building offers us the great opportunity to work more closely with Seneca College, benefitting both institutions.”

Right: Minister David Caplan, York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden and Seneca President Rick Miner during a tour of the building

The building, designed to change the way education is delivered, is already making good on its promise. TEL’s academic users have embraced the building’s innovations. It features both wired and wireless technologies, an Internet-based telephone system and flexible work spaces. Wireless technologies make it possible for TEL researchers, faculty and students to be connected 24/7. Lecture halls and seminar rooms come equipped with presentation technology that is available at the touch of a button. Equipped with 5,500 drops and 500 km of the very best in communications link cabling, TEL is hard-wired and ready to take on the future of learning.  

Designed by Toronto’s Moriyama & Teshima Architects, which also created the concept for the adjacent Seneca@York building, the TEL Building is envisioned as “a place of discovery, where visual and spatial experiences unfold.” Its flexible classroom and office spaces are housed in an energy-efficient structure with abundant natural light and places for social interaction. The building is designed to support sustainability and a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption.

Students and visitors to “TEL” can stroll down a central indoor street where they will see two large video screens capable of broadcasting news, information and event coverage. In the spaces provided for social interaction students can meet, catch up on their studies by logging into TEL’s wireless network or just relax between classes. In the lecture halls and classrooms, faculty can call on a range of built-in multimedia facilities to enhance their presentations that can be recorded for viewing live or later from a Web-based course archive.

Right: State-of-the-art technology and innovative multimedia classrooms are a central focus of the TEL Building

The TEL Building contains state-of-the-art technology and is designed to accommodate future innovations. Technology and new ways of applying it are also being designed at the Technology Enhanced Learning Institute (TELi), on the building’s main level. A partnership between York University and Seneca College, TELi promotes research and development of new modes of teaching and learning that take advantage of technology. Researchers at TELi are currently working on many projects that will develop or showcase the use of technology in education.

“This is more than a building, it is an instrument that will help us further the work that has already been done and launch exciting and innovative new joint ventures such as the TEL Institute,” said Seneca College President Rick Miner.