January 19, 2007
This Centennial series of feature stories and photographs is designed to inspire readers to look around, beyond Collegiate Gothic, to see the wide range of architectural styles on campus. With the help of University architect Colin Tennent and planner Colin Hartl, Silas Polkinghorne examines the history, design and construction of some of the buildings on this remarkable campus.
This one breaks a few rules of Architecture 101.
But despite its unusual design, the Dentistry Building is an intriguing part of the U of S campus – an understated and sculptural building that is also simple and poetic.
Dentistry’s displays a fascinating mix of materials.
Photo by Liam Richards
Layered with field stone on the bottom, tyndalstone on top, and a modern glass exterior sandwiched in between, these materials create tension and abstraction. Nevertheless, the building as a whole still manages to holds together as a single, cohesive element.
“It’s quietly spectacular,” says University Architect Colin Tennent, who especially likes the use of a glass to divide the two stone materials.
Designed by architects Holliday-Scott, Paine and built for $4 million, construction of the building began in 1978. Dentistry classes were already underway but temporarily housed in The Cancer Institute, Ellis Hall, and then the Health Sciences Building. The building opened to 25 Dentistry students in 1979.
The Health Sciences Building next door is recalled in Dentistry’s decorative scuppers that provide drainage for water on the roof. The entrance facing Wiggins Road, meanwhile, has a grand bridge leading to the doorway and what resembles a moat –without water – underneath.
The metal artwork nearby – “Passage” by Don Foulds – is among the most effective uses of sculpture on campus, Tennent says. “It’s abstracted, and it works with the building.”
The building also eschews conventional notions of front and back doors; instead, it effectively has two front doors, and its strong east-west axis helps to move visitors through the building.
Stone from the exterior has been used to enhance the central corridor inside, creating not only an opportunity to use rich building materials, but a way to blend the outside and inside together. This feature also puts a major emphasis on circulation.
The building had bright pink or magenta doors facing Wiggins Road when it opened, although the paint has faded over time.
“Holliday-Scott was well-known for his intense colour usage,” says Tennent. “He was always introducing very vidid colours.” Original bright green, blue, yellow, and red colours remain inside the building, while big, bold graphics denote floor numbers and point to washrooms.
Cutline: Dentistry’s displays a fascinating mix of materials.
Photo by Liam Richards