CNIB Centre

When the CNIB wanted to create a new vision for its beautiful 16-acre campus in North Toronto, we developed a scheme that would entail selling three quarters of the land — while keeping the prime, accessible Bayview frontage — and using the proceeds to fund construction of the institution’s new facility. Ultimately we were commissioned to design the facility itself.

We endeavoured to create a 21st-century impression that would emphasize the CNIB’s progressive institutional goals. Our Client’s goal was to create a facility that demonstrated the principles of Universal Design. Together we built an environment that integrated all the senses via an interconnected trail of sights, sounds, aromas and tactile experiences — and where the objective of providing unparalleled client service and training were visibly upheld.

Sitting atop an embankment overlooking Bayview Avenue to the west and a deciduous ravine to the north, the new CNIB building is a vibrant, highly functional space featuring a circulation spine with activities located at each of its vertebra, a café admitting natural light into the building’s centre, and numerous sustainability components including exterior and interior sun shading, glazing orientation, occupancy sensors and naturalized plant material.

Each landscaped space — the protected fragrant garden, the western terrace, the north shade garden adjoining the ravine — conveys a distinct character, vitally connecting the building to its natural environment. Texture and colour are used to define boundaries, paths and destinations. Acoustics are utilized to further distinguish separate areas. Together, these dynamic elements coalesce to form an environment that stands as a model of universal design and reflects the ongoing aim of a proud, worthy institution.