University of Toronto – Experiential Learning Commons

The University of Toronto’s Experiential Learning Commons (ELC) features a Japanese garden-inspired design by Lebel & Bouliane focusing on student wellness and professional interactions.

  • area / size 15,800 sqft
  • Completed 2023
  • Location Toronto, Canada,
  • The Experiential Learning Commons (ELC) is a collaboration between the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Faculty of Arts & Science. Located in the 3rd and 4th podium floors of the Theory Condominium building at College and Beverley Streets (at the periphery of the St. George Campus), the Commons connects students from the University’s three campuses with leading employers and industry partners from across the Greater Toronto Area.

    The ELC is a LEED Gold interior (in a non-LEED building) focused on student wellness and elevating the quality of the interactions between students and the University’s industry partners. To meet the ‘soft’ objectives of the project, the ELC’s material and architectural gestures are inspired by Japanese gardens to foster a professional and serene environment — for focus and positive communication in collaborative work, interviews and meetings.

    Designed as an activation space, the ELC features ‘the Workroom’, an expandable event space for presentations and seminars that can be fully enclosed or expanded to a large assembly, from 110m2 (1185 sf) to 255m2 (2745 sf). As the central hub for the faculties’ student experiential work programs, the ELC includes private interview rooms for employers and student meetings (in person or digitally), faculty offices and workstations, internal boardrooms and a variety of lounges. The ELC also features state-of-the-art IT and AV integration, automated and controllable lighting and a ‘whisper quiet’ acoustic design.

    The garden-inspired design features a soft, natural material and colour palette, an intuitive circulation with soft corners and undulating banquettes, with a careful balance of privacy and visibility between public spaces and meeting rooms. Inspired by the crisp folds of a kimono and designed to magnify the scale of the spaces, the elongated acoustic ceiling planes are a contrast to the organic floor plan, adapting to the mechanical, plumbing and structural systems that typically cross through the ceiling of the podium floors of condominium towers, where the tower sits. Developed in collaboration with Alula Lighting, the lighting design balances architectural lighting with delicate groupings of directional lighting and that connect to the seating areas and interior plantings.

    Design: Lebel & Bouliane
    Design Team: Luc Bouliane, Mieke Stethem, Duane Comins, Tiffany Tse
    Lighting Design: Rebecca Ho-Dion from Alula Lighting
    Photography: Doublespace Photography