Three Moments from Fall 2020

Convocation Hall’s new top, preparing for virtual labs, and a spectacular campus trail that’s accessible to all

Aerial photo of the roof of Convocation Hall under construction
Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn/University of Toronto

Rooftop Revival

Date: September 24
Time: 5:31 a.m.
Campus: St. George

Convocation Hall, the historic centrepiece of U of T’s St. George campus, is being fitted with a new glass skylight – a once-in-a-century renewal that will help ensure the longevity and grandeur of the 114-year-old building.

A crane towering over King’s College Circle carefully hoisted the skylight’s superstructure into place on Con Hall’s domed roof. Glass panels were to be installed next, with completion early in 2021.

No detail was overlooked to ensure the replacement skylight is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor, says Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president, operations and real estate partnerships. “How the glass fits together, the kind of glass and how it appears is very loyal to the original structure,” he says.

The installation of the new skylight, or oculus, is part of a broader refurbishment of the heritage building, which serves as the university’s biggest classroom and the site of its annual convocation ceremonies.

– Rahul Kalvapalle

Hominin skulls and bones laid out on a tray; one skull is being held up by someone
Photo by Johnny Guatto

Scanning the Past

Date: October 8
Time: 11:39 a.m.
Campus: Mississauga

Armed with 3D scanners, U of T Mississauga anthropologists are preparing hundreds of fossils for virtual labs. Specimens consisting mostly of casts of hominin skulls and other bones are being scanned in meticulous detail and converted into 3D digital models.

These models imitate the casts students would normally work with during an in-person lab. Students can interact with the virtual models, turning them, zooming in on points of interest and noting surface details. The models are also annotated, drawing attention to certain features students will need to recognize.

The shift to virtual labs during the pandemic has spurred this project, but the newly digitized teaching collection will help augment hands-on learning when labs resume normal operations. 

– Patricia Lonergan

A loop of the UTSC trail through forested area
Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Valley Views

Date: October 7
Time: 3:16 p.m.
Campus: Scarborough

The new, winding nature trail behind U of T Scarborough’s Andrews Building is a powerful statement for inclusive design. Once a steep, uneven 20-metre slope into the Highland Creek Valley, the new Valley Land Trail is now accessible to anyone with mobility challenges.

With a wide path, charging station for motorized accessibility devices and more than 300 LED lights built into a continuous handrail, the trail meets the highest accessibility standards.

Multiple raised lookout points and an outdoor amphitheatre built into the hillside next to the iconic Andrews Building offer stunning views of the valley. The trail is maintained through all four seasons, which means everyone in the community can enjoy it year-round.

– Don Campbell

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