Autumn 2010
Planetary Observatory

The Munk School’s new headquarters on Bloor Street will provide a unique window on the world


Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects - Tom Payne, Partner in Charge Rendering: Norm Li AG+I

It was once home to a service that charted local weather patterns. But the residents of 315 Bloor St. W. will soon be monitoring winds of change across the planet.

As of September 2011, the Munk School of Global Affairs will be headquartered in a 100-year-old sandstone edifice near the Varsity Centre that used to house the Dominion Meteorological Service. During the Second World War, pilots were trained to read weather patterns there so they wouldn’t have to rely on radio communications. A circular tower where there was once a large telescope will be refashioned into meeting rooms and intimate places for conversation, and topped by what KPMB Architects calls a “Thinking Room” offering panoramic views of the campus and city. The tower’s original purpose as an observatory will thereby, in its own way, be recaptured.

Some of the more striking features of the school’s current location will be repeated in the new facility – hedgerows, benches and a “water feature” in the forecourt, providing space for quiet contemplation. Indeed, many Munk School programs will still be conducted at the existing KPMB-designed facility at Trinity College on Devonshire Place.

But the renovated building on Bloor will create a far more public face for the school, situating it at the northern gateway of the St. George campus. Declared a heritage site in 1973, the architects deem it “immediately recognizable as a landmark, expressive of a place of serious inquiry.”


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