Lassonde Mining Building

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Lassonde Mining Building
Location 170 College Street
Year Constructed 1905
Building Code MB
Architects Francis Riley Heakes and Frank Darling (1905), Baird Sampson Neuert (2011)
Major Offices/Labs
Lassonde Mineral Engineering Program
Lassonde Institute for Engineering Geoscience
Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering
Canadian Mining Hall of Fame

The Lassonde Mining Building at 170 College Street is one of the original buildings of the School of Practical Science. Completed in 1905, the Mining Building was designed by Mr. Francis Riley Heakes and Mr. Frank Darling, Chief Architects of the Public Works Department. The final cost of the building at its completion was $384,736. The building is designated as a Heritage Property for its importance as a major work of Edwardian Classicism.

In November 2011, a $20-million renovation project to convert previously unusable attic space into an interdisciplinary design studio was completed. The building was also officially renamed at that time to the "Lassonde Mining Building", for Pierre Lassonde, a Canadian mining executive and donor who had close ties to the Department of Mineral Engineering.

Departments and Offices[edit | edit source]

  • Lassonde Mineral Engineering Program
  • Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering
  • Canadian Mining Hall of Fame

Notable Laboratories[edit | edit source]

  • Lassonde Institute for Engineering Geoscience

History[edit | edit source]

The first Mining Engineering Department was established in 1878, and has been located in the Mining Building since its completion in 1905. Today, the Mining Building hosts not only what is now called Mineral Engineering, but also the Lassonde Institute for Engineering Geoscience, and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME). It is also home to one of the original lecture theaters at the university and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, that recognizes and honours legendary mine finders and builders who contributed to the growth and development of the industry in Canada.

As the original SPS was administered by the province, it was left to the province to design and build the Mining Building, which initially was to be called the “Minerology and Geology Building”. The initial plan was to accommodate the growing interest in advanced education in mining, and to build a new science building to accommodate the Departments of Minerology, Geology, Metallurgy and Applied Chemistry (in the end, it was called the “Chemistry and Mining Building”). The estimated cost was upwards of $200K, and both the location and design were the subjects of extensive discussion and debate. The building came to represent much more than a science building; it was to play a role as a Toronto landmark.

The landmark status of this building was due in large part to its location on College Street, which at the turn of the century was considered to be on the outskirts to the northwest of Toronto, but was increasingly used as an important east-west artery through the city. The city had expected a large westward expansion at the time, and the building would be one of the southern pillars of the University.

Mining Building under construction, c. 1903

Before even an initial design was developed, a delegation traveled in search of the perfect building model, and visited other schools of metallurgy and mineralogy in Europe, Canada and the US. Locations visited included Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Philadelphia, and Columbia University. The group included Premier Ross, the Hon. Mr. Harcourt, Minister of Education, Hon. F.R. Latchford, Minister of Public Works, Chief Architect F.R. Heakes and Dean Galbraith.

The design work was eventually awarded to Francis Riley Heakes, Chief Architect of the Ontario Public Works Department and architect for the Whitney Block (a nearby set of buildings used by the Government of Ontario), and Frank Darling (who designed several other buildings at the University of Toronto).

Construction began in the summer of 1902, and was completed in the summer of 1904.[1]

Structure and Architecture[edit | edit source]

Artist's rendering of the front facade of the Mining Building

The Mining Building was constructed in early-twentieth century Beaux-Arts style, with a bilaterally symmetrical front facade and monumental brick columns embedded within the exterior facing wall. The design was inspired in part by other schools of metallurgy and mineralogy constructed around the same time, including those at Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University.[2]

The Mining building was originally to be a 4-storey structure made of stone and pressed brick. There were to be two wings extending north from the west and east side of the building, which would have enclosed a quadrangle which was to be used as a milling room. Tenders, when received, indicated that the initial building plans were too extravagant – the wings were cut and the design reassessed due to budget constraints.

2011 Attic Expansion[edit | edit source]

Mining Building, west entrance from King's College Road, c. 2017. The new attic expansion is visible at the top of the building, as is the accessibility ramp to the bottom left.

In the fall of 2010, the University, in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, began a $20-million renovation project of the Mining Building. The project converted previously unused attic space into the Civil Engineering Department's Interdisciplinary Design Studio, a space that will be used primarily as a "home base" for the fourth-year Civil Engineering design projects. The additional space on the fourth and fifth floors, named the Goldcorp Mining Innovation Suite, provides 100 workstations for students in the mineral and civil engineering programs.

In addition, the space will provide graduate student offices to accommodate graduate student expansion and a convergence area for researchers and industry to collaborate on joint projects. The space is fully accessible via an interior elevator shaft, which was added north of the West stairs. Several offices and labs of Civil Engineering, Mineral Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and IBBME were displaced for the renovation.

New sustainable features were also added, including photovoltaic panels, improved insulation, the addition of skylights, and rain harvesting for watering of surrounding grounds.

The renovated building, officially renamed the Lassonde Mining Building after Dr. Pierre Lassonde, chair of mining giant Franco-Nevada, was re-opened in a ceremony on November 28.

References[edit | edit source]

  2. L.W. Richards, University of Toronto: An Architectural Tour, Princeton Architectural Press (New York: 2009).