York University – Sherman Health Sciences Research Centre

Transforming a hockey arena into a health sciences research centre

Science & Technology

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.

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Location
Toronto, ON
Client
York University
Completion
2010
Collaborators

Blackwell Structural Engineers
Crossey Engineering Ltd.

DIALOG Services

Architecture
Interior Design
Laboratory Design

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.

The Team