New residence design anything but old school

ArchitectsAlliance, which designed the Computer Science Building in partnership with Busby & Associates, has completed a student residence on Pond Road that will enhance York University’s reputation as an institution willing to build well and build green, reported Toronto-based design magazine Azure in its October issue. York’s Keele campus no longer resembles the architectural hinterland it was in its brutalist era beginnings. Partner and design architect Pat Hanson describes a recent master plan for Pond Road as York’s attempt to give this very suburban campus a more urban streetscape. Buildings along the route are consistent in height and positioned close to the street edge and to each other.

The magazine describes the Pond Road Residence’s feel-good mosaic of plate glass, tall windows that open out from the bottom, and yellow and blue glass spandrel panels that add softness and bit of depth to the building’s curtain wall. All components of the curtain wall work together to create an envelope that minimizes temperature fluctuations within the building. Carpeting the roof of the five-storey volume with drought-resistant plants serves the same purpose. (The green roof also improves outdoor air quality and reduces sewer runoff.) In the ground floor common areas, the coolest-looking space has chunky upholstered seating suitable for group lounging.

The architects concede that York’s maintenance staff is less than thirlled with the design decision to paint many of the interior walls in wide vertical bands of subtly varying shades of yellow. Sure, it looks trendy, but a single colour would have been easier to touch up. However, Azure concludes, it could be argued that this smart, handsome, sustainable student residence has earned a few stripes.

Humour research hints at ‘tantalizing’ gender differences

While men and women get a kick out of the same cartoons, their brains respond in slightly different ways, Stanford University researchers have found, reported the San Jose Mercury News in California Nov. 8. And those differences might help explain why more women than men get depressed, or why humour sometimes triggers cataplexy, which causes people to lose muscle control when overwhelmed by emotion. The study found that when looking at funny cartoons, women activated the language parts of their brains more than men did. Their reward centers also lit up more intensely. If women react more intensely to funny things, “could that also imply that they process negative stimuli, stressful stimuli, in a different way? It’s definitely worth following up,” said Dr. Allan Reiss, a Stanford psychiatrist who led the study. “It’s tantalizing. It suggests there may be something there,” said neuroscientist Vinod Goel, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who has done similar studies. “But we haven’t quite got at it.”

Prof plays himself in film

The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, opening this weekend, unfolds mockumentary style, with fake testimonials from real-life music legends including Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm, Merle Haggard and Ronnie Hawkins – and a York prof, reported Canadian Press in a review published Nov. 8 in The Globe and Mail and The Review in Niagara Falls. The film is about a small town Prairie kid who becomes a country-rock troubador. Shot in Toronto, The Life and Times of Guy Terrifico takes all the ludicrous stereotypes of stardom and rolls them into one pill-popping, whisky-drinking character with a penchant for three-chord country tunes. Writer-director Michael Mabbott’s first feature-length film takes place 30 years after Terrifico’s supposed death. His musical cohorts and other industry experts, including real-life musicologist Rob Bowman, a professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, piece together Terrifico’s combustible career with archival footage illustrating the singer’s wild behaviour.

Tilley not so endurable at York

With a modest goal of earning $5,000, Alex Tilley began selling hats in 1980 to supplement the income he earned as a part-time art dealer. Twenty-five years later, outdoor wear chain Tilley Endurables Inc. brings in more than $30 million annually in sales, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 6. As an MBA student at York (he attended Atkinson College during the summer of 1967), Tilley did attempt to gain formal business knowledge, but says he “flunked out.” Nonetheless, the experience was grand, the charismatic Tilley recalls. He was elected class president and had the privilege of being classmates with John Hunkin (MBA ’69, LLD ’04), the future chief executive of CIBC. The two even drove to class together.