Rosebrugh Building

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Rosebrugh Building
Rosebrugh Building
Location 164 College Street
Year Constructed 1920
Building Code RS
Architects Darling & Pearson, 1920

The Rosebrugh Building at 164 College Street, originally known as the Electrical Building, was opened in the 1920s and was one of the more prominent structures on the south end of the University of Toronto campus in the first half of the twentieth century (particularly before the construction of the Mechanical Building and the enclosure of the former Taddle Creek Road). Its eastern facade was partially reconstructed and now incorporated as an interior wall in the atrium of the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

History[edit | edit source]

Construction of the Electrical Building, c. 1920. The eastern facade pictured here faced Taddle Creek Road (now the site of CCBR).

In the postwar aftermath in 1919, the Faculty saw a great influx of students from those returning from the war. In the fall 1919 academic year, enrollment rose from 241 to 819 students, more than half consisting of veterans, and many in first year. At the same time, Electrical Engineering had become the most popular choice of the incoming class, yet it alone amongst the disciplines did not have a dedicated building at the time. [1]

The large enrollment provided justification for funding a new building. Thus in February 1919 (only a few months after the war officially concluded), the provincial government announced a contribution of $350,000 towards a new building as part of its postwar employment efforts. The condition for the funding was that construction begin immediately. Excavation began before a design for the building was completed. The architects Darling and Pearson (with Frank Darling the primary designer who had worked on several other buildings for the University) were put in charge. Indeed, the new Electrical Building bore a strong resemblance to the Thermodynamics Building designed by the same team and constructed in 1909, especially in its exterior facade consisting of tall arched windows and detailed brickwork. Construction on the Electrical Building began by fall 1919 and was in use by fall 1920 (officially opening on November 1920). [1]

Electrical Building c. March 1921 (eastern facade photographed from Taddle Creek Road.

As intended, the Electrical Building housed the new and growing Department of Electrical Engineering. It also housed a new laboratory for testing structural materials and was used for the Applied Mechanics teaching department. It was originally built with its eastern entrance facing Taddle Creek Road, on the north side of College Street.

The building was eventually renamed the Rosebrugh Building, in honour of Thomas Rosebrugh, the first head of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

A significant change was made to the surrounding architecture in 2003, when Taddle Creek Road was demolished and became the site of the brand new Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR). As part of the renovation and construction, the original front facade of the Rosebrugh Building facing Taddle Creek Road became a part of the interior entrance atrium of the adjoining CCBR.[2] The structure of Rosebrugh is now embedded into its neighbour, with the former exterior brick wall now forming the decorative interior wall of the atrium garden and enclosed by a glass skylight between the two buildings. A walkway extends from the upper floor of Rosebrugh into CCBR. Indeed, many of the classrooms and offices on the east side of Rosebrugh now have a view of the interior garden of CCBR as well as its entrance lounge.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Richard White, The Skule Story: The University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, 1873-2000, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000) at pp. 98-100.
  2. L.W. Richards, University of Toronto: An Architectural Tour, Princeton Architectural Press (New York: 2009).