A designer’s eye on the MaRS Centre Phase 2

A designer’s eye on the MaRS Centre Phase 2

Set to open in the fall of 2013, the MaRS Centre Phase 2 will anchor Toronto’s Discovery District and complete the MaRS Centre campus. Now that construction is well underway, I’m sure everyone is wondering what exactly the MaRS Centre Phase 2 will look like. I spoke with the architecture firm responsible for the building, B+H Architects, to get a sense of the thinking that went into their design.

Through our discussion, I learned that a building of this scale is much more than meets the eye, with great consideration given not only to the prospective tenants, but also to the community at large. Given its prominent location on one of the busiest intersections in Toronto, the MaRS Centre Phase 2 was designed to be open and welcoming to the public, with direct access to the subway, a four-storey, public atrium and external cladding that offers a strategic view of the goings-on inside the building. It was also designed in such a way as to complement not only the surrounding area, but also the existing Phase 1 building, which offers a blend of historic and modern design.

While explaining that Phase 2 was designed to enhance the MaRS campus of converging ideas, the architects listed a few of the structure’s key features below:

The Jewel Box


The Jewel Box will serve as an integral volumetric piece of the overall Phase 2 structure and will acknowledge the historical features of the MaRS Heritage Building through a modern sensitivity. Along the west elevation (University Avenue), terra cotta screens and panels will be employed to mirror the terra cotta cornices of the Heritage Building. The terra cotta will extend through a ceremonial four-storey entrance into the public, 60-foot-high, skylit interior atrium, subtly contrasting the Jewel Box and complementing the brick façade of the Heritage Building.

MaRS Centre Phase 2: Atrium Connection

The Tower

The tower portion of the Phase 2 structure is designed as several articulated masses that help break down the monolithic building surfaces normally associated with such a large floor plate. Just like a protective skin being peeled away to reveal inner tissues, a portion of the building will be clad in a blue-silver tinted glazing. This glazing will feature protruding aluminum fins that further break down the mass of the structure by creating a finely textured surface.

Ultra-clear low-iron glass will be recessed from the glazing, showing the inner workings of the building to the city. As a result, the exterior skin of the building will focus on balancing inward views and outward views while selectively revealing the inner activity of the atrium and the strategic application of transparent materials that address private and public spaces.

To watch the progress on the site, be sure to check out our “Progress Cam.”