The New Building


Photo by Greg Holman, 1989, courtesy of the University of Toronto Archives.


Woodsworth College moves to temporary quarters on Spadina Avenue during the renovation.

Securing funding for the new building was a major undertaking. The University of Toronto approved the building as a "capital project for major funding," and the Peter and Edward Bronfman families generously donated $600K (Richardson, The New Woodsworth pp. 8-9). Woodsworth College's undergraduate students were so strongly committed to the project that they voted for two consecutive student levies, additional fees that students imposed on themselves over a ten-year commitment, raising a significant portion of the funding necessary for the building (A. Waugh, Interview, 7 November 2023).  

Last but not least, the Government of Ontario provided $4.7 million in support (Richardson, The New Woodsworth pp. 8-9). The Ontario government grant was celebrated at Woodsworth College, as shown in this photograph of the festive announcement: Ron Kanter, MPP for St. Andrew-St Patrick, The Honourable Lyn McLeod, Minister of Colleges and Universities, and Arthur Kruger, Principal of WDW College, are photographed with the new building's model in a glass case behind them. Behind Principal Kruger, the poster's rhetorical question--"Woodsworth College: Will The Dream Come True?"--was much closer to an affirmative answer.

To carry out the projected building, Woodsworth College chose “the association of Barton Myers Architect and Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects” (Richardson, The New Woodsworth College, 4).

In 1990, ground was broken for the new College building. The vision for the building--held firmly both by the architects and the administrators of the college--was one of “sympathy with traditional collegiate architecture, and their appreciation of enduring materials and the lasting value of good craftsmanship” (Richardson, The New Woodsworth College, 4). 

During construction, Woodsworth College moved to temporary premises on 563 Spadina Avenue.


Woodsworth cornerstone ceremony and striking library workers. Photo by David Wohlfahrt, courtesy of the University of Toronto Archives. 

In 1991, Woodsworth College celebrated the unveiling of the new building’s cornerstone. Surrounded by bouquets of balloons, Principal Kruger and Robert McGavin, chair of the Governing Council, unveiled the cornerstone which would be laid in the foundation once Woodsworth’s new building would be complete. President Pritchard attended the ceremony.

Woodsworth College’s celebration intersected with campus labour actions:  photographs of the event show both the ceremony's smiling audience and, behind them, CUPE workers on strike. One sign reads in part "265 Library Workers, 200 Grievances."

A year later, in 1992, the multi-purpose building, designed by KPMB (Barton Myers Architect, Inc / Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects), opened its doors.

The building complements the stately late-nineteenth century MacArthur house with a late-twentieth century building that harmonises with the old house. Tucked behind and around the Alexander MacArthur house, the new building is a U-shaped, cloister-like structure, containing classrooms and offices, and embracing the Peter F. Bronfman central green courtyard.

The new building surrounds and expands the old, echoing details of colour, material, and structure in a modern idiom. (Richardson, The New Woodsworth College 4-26).


Woodsworth New Building, Autumn 1995. Photo by Jewel Randolph, courtesy of the University of Toronto Archives. 

Throughout the building process, Dr. Alex Waugh, Vice-Principal and Registrar of Woodsworth College, acted as client on behalf of the College (Richardson, the New Woodsworth College 1). As he observes:

I was of the opinion that the architecture mattered profoundly. I wanted a building of quality, a building that reflected the importance of our college as an institution. It had to have courtyards. It had to have flowers. It had to have a fountain. And we got it (Interview with Dr. Alexander Waugh).

That year, the new Woodsworth College building won the prestigious Governor General’s Award for architecture.

Campus Map 1996 WDW section.jpg Campus Map 1996 WDW section legend.jpg

Subsequent campus maps, from 1996 onwards, depict Woodsworth College no longer as a half-number tucked into the bottom of the page, but as its own institution taking up space within the wider campus.

The New Building