It’s only a few blocks from his office at 19 Russell St. but pharmacy professor Raymond Reilly’s lab at the new Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building seems worlds away.
The brand new $75-million facility at the northwest corner of College Street and Queen’s Park Crescent is a sunlit cathedral of glass and black granite. It’s a far cry from the cramped maze and winking fluorescent lights of the circa-1960s Russell Street building that the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy currently calls home.
While faculty and students will soon be able to appreciate the state-of-the-art research laboratories, the design by architects Foster and Partners of London, England, is nothing short of an esthetic marvel. The panes of glass forming the five-storey atrium are so large they had to be ordered from Luxembourg – the home of the world’s only supplier that would cut the panes that big. The glass allows an unobstructed view of the elegant heritage buildings next door – the Tanz Neuroscience and FitzGerald facilities.
Inside the light-filled atrium, two large pods float overhead like smooth white eggs. Inside the larger “egg” is a 60-seat classroom; the smaller one contains a 24-seat computer training centre. These suspended classrooms could not have been built five years ago, says Darren Lobo, the project co-ordinator for PCL Constructors Canada, the firm heading the construction. The computer software to design them simply didn’t exist.
The spacious six-storey cube on top of the atrium will house research and administrative offices, laboratories and unique teaching environments, such as the Herbert R. Binder/Shoppers Drug Mart Professional Practice Laboratory. This lab will give pharmacy students practice in counselling “patients” (played by actors). Their interactions can be taped and observed by classmates and professors through a closed-circuit television system. In the building’s basement are two large lecture halls – 240 and 300 seats – stacked on top of each other, like the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre a few blocks away.
Leslie L. Dan (BScP 1954, MBA 1959, DScP Hon. 1997), chairman and founder of Novopharm, donated $13 million to the construction of the cutting-edge facility. Apotex and Shoppers Drug Mart are also major contributors, along with the province of Ontario and the University of Toronto. The new building, which opens in September, will enable the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy to double its enrolment to 240 students in the undergraduate pharmacy program and significantly increase the number of faculty, researchers and graduate students.
“The private sector must play a greater role in ensuring that we help meet the need for a greater number of skilled profes-sionals in the province’s pharmacies,” says Dan. “On a personal level, as a U of T alumnus, I feel it is incumbent upon me to give something back – something that will benefit the university and society. The University of Toronto provided a great start to my career, and now I want to make certain others benefit from those same opportunities.”