Client: Schulich Business School
Location: 4700 Keele Street
Toronto, On M3J 1P3
Since 1966, the Schulich School of Business executive education programs have produced generations of Canadian leaders and managers. In 2016, the school launched a new campaign to significantly expand its campus. The result was the Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study and Research Building, which was officially completed in October 2018. Designed by award-winning architectural firm Baird Sampson Neuert, the building was designed with an eye for interactivity, sustainability and social spontaneity. It also comes outfitted with Spectrum’s Z-Style Lockers.
We spoke with Jesse Dormody, an architect at Baird Sampson Neuert to talk about his vision for the building and the unique locker design he created. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Q. The Schulich School of Business is a very high profile institution in Canada. What were their major design priorities and what did you ultimately land upon as your vision?
A. The design aims to embrace the client’s goal of promoting innovative ways of thinking and creates an interactive terrain of social spaces to encourage spontaneous dialogue, integrated with highly flexible spaces for structured teaching and interdisciplinary research. Exemplary performance and innovation in environmental sustainability was also a primary goal of the client and project team.
The lockers obviously have a primary functional purpose for storage of personal items for students. The lockers are located in the building’s lower level, which also contains an open lounge space and the schools’ Wellness Centre. They are a key part of the terrain of social spaces in the building. The Spectrum phenolic lockers were also selected for their durability and expected long useful lifespan, consistent with fundamental principles of sustainability.
Q. Your locker design used a wide range of vibrant yellows and blues for the locker doors, whereas most designers usually stick with greys and neutrals. What was your inspiration?
A. The design employs several moves which are aimed at trying to relieve the usually compressed feeling of a basement level. Primarily this includes the extension of daylit staircases to the basement as well as the extension of the buildings central sculptural stair at the central lounge and a glazed opening to the main floor atrium above which provides light as well as a visual connection to the heart of the building. Because the lockers are arranged around the outer corridor and located in the basement level, we saw the opportunity to use colour to help mitigate the feeling of being in a basement. The colours are arranged in a way that places the higher density of the deeper blue tones in the areas of the basement with the most natural light and more open space. The lighter blues and then brighter yellows and white lockers, then become more frequent as one moves away from the more open space and down the long corridor towards the daylit stairwell at the west end so as to make the corridor feel more open. In addition, we were inspired by paintings by Van Gogh, such as the iconic Starry Night.
Van Gogh – Starry Night inspired SPECTRUM Lockers.
Q. What is your general impression of the locker’s appearance?
A. We are very happy with how the lockers turned out.
Q. What is the reason you didn’t go with another locker material type (such as metal or plastic) which tend to have a lower price point?
A. The use of quality materials throughout the facility was of importance in the design and expected by the client. Plastic or metal would not have offered the same quality finish, durability or ability to look and function well for years.
Q. What made you select the Z-Tier lockers for this job?
A. We selected the Z Tier in order to achieve the quantities needed, while maintaining the ability to hang items such as a jacket easily in the locker thanks to the extended height portion.
Q. Was there any particular feature you loved about the lockers?
A. The Z-tier configuration is very clever. The inlayed locker number disk insert is a well detailed item, as is the placement of hooks at the ceiling of the locker which seems more functional for hanging coats or bags than hooks on the back or side wall. The lockers feel durable and secure. Of course the colour and material quality of the phenolic construction is great.
Q. Would you use Spectrum Lockers on future jobs?
A. Absolutely. This is by far the largest project we have used them on and in the largest quantity, but we have used them on several other recent projects in smaller quantities. The client is happy with the colour selection and arrangement and I think would agree that the general quality is very good.