York University – Sherman Health Sciences Research Centre
Transforming a hockey arena into a health sciences research centre
The Sherman Health Sciences Research Centre was conceived as a nexus for York University’s renowned interdisciplinary research programs in the neurosciences, vision sciences, and kinesiology. We transformed an unlikely starting point—the university’s 1960s hockey arena—by inserting a “building within a building” into the cavernous space, complete with a new mezzanine level and circulation streets. The existing structure would not support the large, heavy air handling units and other utilities without significant reinforcement; instead, we mounted the mechanical and electrical systems along the north side of the building in a sidehouse configuration. Research facilities include a 3T fMRI laboratory for real-time neuroimaging and specialized suites for visuo-motor assessment, neurostimulation, visuo-robotics, and immersive virtual reality.
- Toronto, ON
- York University
Blackwell Structural Engineers
Crossey Engineering Ltd.
- DIALOG Services
The arena’s opaque facades were opened up with punched windows, skylights, and a window-wall at the south entrance.
In inserting the laboratory block as a “building within a building,” we added a mezzanine level while retaining the arena’s original exterior walls and roof trusses. Controlled laboratory environments are isolated from the building envelope to create a dynamic buffer zone, reducing heating and cooling loads.
Polished concrete floors and charcoal-gray metal fittings are highly durable and convey a robust industrial aesthetic. Refinished wood ceilings add visual warmth and refer to the building’s previous use.
High-ceilinged spaces with multiple levels readily adapt to changes in program and equipment.
Sidehouse utilities feed the mechanical and electrical services horizontally across each floor; this configuration avoided the need for structural roof reinforcement in addition to improving operational efficiencies and easing maintenance.