Sweeny Sterling Finlayson &Co Architects design the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Toronto
When the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) approached us to create a new vision for its beautiful 16-acre campus in north Toronto, &Co, along with Shore Tilbe Irwin and Partners, strived for a 21st-century impression that would emphasize the CNIB’s progressive institutional goals. The result was an environment conceived to integrate all the senses – via an interconnected trail of sights, sounds, aromas and tactile experiences – in which the goals of unparalleled client service and training were visibly upheld.
Sitting atop an embankment with a deciduous ravine to the north, the new CNIB Cetnre 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.