Students, staff and faculty got a sneak peek at the newest addition to U of T’s international-level athletic facilities in early October, as the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport opened its doors for the first time.
Denise Wooding, a fourth-year student and Varsity volleyball player, was one of several university athletes on hand at the building preview who encouraged visitors to join pick-up games. “I’m so excited,” she says, noting that the new building feels like a “fresh start” for U of T athletics.
Many guests simply marveled at the building’s innovative design, created by Patkau Associates and MJM Architects. The main field house is below street level. Windows high along the walls allow pedestrians to watch athletes in action below. The three upper floors of the building are suspended from a steel superstructure. “It’s not an unusual way to make a bridge,” says architect Shane O’Neill, “but it’s an unusual way to make a building.
The facility, located on Devonshire Place, houses an expanded David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic, classrooms and research labs, a strength and conditioning centre and a fitness studio – all for use by U of T students.
The Goldring Centre will attract a very diverse audience, says Michelle Brownrigg, director of physical activity and equity at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “A recreational athlete could be training next to an Olympian.”
Wooding, who has seen her share of university athletic facilities, says the Goldring Centre stands in a class of its own. “We’ve travelled around Ontario, Manitoba, B.C., Alberta, and this is the best gym we’re going to play in. It’s state of the art.”
Beth Ali, director of intercollegiate sport for the faculty, says the Goldring Centre will help U of T recruit top athletes to play for the Varsity Blues. “Our university has an outstanding academic reputation,” Ali says. “We want our athletic reputation to match.”
Professor Gretchen Kerr, the faculty’s vice-dean for academic affairs, says the Goldring Centre will also inspire students through education and research. “Graduate students will benefit tremendously from the state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment for doing their research, and the centre itself will be like a living lab. They will be able to study high performance athletes and other exercisers.”
The Goldring Centre is supported by a lead donation from the Goldring family and from Ron Kimel, whose gift will create the Kimel Family Field House within the complex.