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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Toronto, ON
50,000 sq ft
York University

Blackwell Structural Engineers
Crossey Engineering Ltd.

DIALOG Services

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