A building of ‘grandness and sophistication’

The Schulich School of Business complex, which encompasses the Seymour Schulich Building and the Executive Learning Centre at York University’s Keele campus, has been named one of the 2006 recipients of the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture.

Above: The courtyard of the Seymour Schulich Building at York

The winners were selected by a jury of the following distinguished architects: Amale Andraos (Quebec); Peter Busby, FRAIC (Vancouver); Adam Caruso (United Kingdom); Julien De Smedt (Denmark); and, Mario Saia, FIRAC (Montreal).

In selecting the Schulich School of Business complex as one of the recipients, the jury commented: “Filling a whole city block, this complex building projects the image of a super-luxury citadel. A combination of grandness and sophistication that is appropriate for a school of business.

“The stone and glass exterior refers to the best of 1950s corporate architecture, brought into the 21st century with a gently faceted geometry that accommodates the irregular site and with the exaggerated flatness of the beautifully detailed cladding, fitting like a well tailored suit,” said the jury. “The carefully made concrete, glass and wood interiors, the generous terraces and gardens sustain this quality of institutional or corporate luxury throughout the project.”

In 2000, York University’s leading philanthropist, Seymour Schulich, made a major donation toward the construction of the new home for the Schulich School of Business at York University. Schulich’s gift complemented funding from the provincial government, York and a broad fundraising campaign.

Left: The interior of the Seymour Schulich Building  features open space and widespread use of natural light

A joint venture between Hariri Pontarini Architects and Robbie/Young + Wright Architects, the state-of-the-art, $104-million Seymour Schulich Building opened in September 2003 and the adjoining Executive Learning Centre opened the following year. Siamak Hariri was the lead design architect. 

“This award is an outstanding tribute to both the architects and the bold vision of Seymour Schulich,” said York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden. “The building’s striking architecture and modern facilities create an exceptional setting for York’s world-renowned business school.”

The building features wireless connectivity throughout, a computer drop-in lab, a library-based computerized training room and two custom classroooms with a workstation for each student. It  also has classrooms equipped with a networked computer and computer projection of the instructor’s choice of content.

“We are honoured to receive this prestigious national award,” said Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth. “We believe that a dynamic, interactive and state-of-the-art learning environment is one of the key building blocks in creating a truly world-class business school.” 

In 2005, the Schulich education complex was also rated one of the world’s eight “most noteworthy” new architectural projects by Identity, an interiors, design and property magazine based in the United Arab Emirates. 

The Governor General’s Medals in Architecture recognize outstanding achievement in projects by Canadian architects. The program is designed to increase public awareness of architecture as a vital cultural force in Canadian society. The awards program is administered jointly with the Canada Council for the Arts.

 The medals will be presented Sept. 20 in Montreal by Lise Thibault, lieutenant governor of Quebec.