Andrew Frontini joined the Toronto-based firm of Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners as a young designer in the autumn of 2000. Over the past decade, Andrew has authored numerous award-winning projects and has taken the role of design director at the firm. He has fostered an interdisciplinary, highly collaborative design culture and reinvigorated the firm’s portfolio with a series of innovative public and institutional buildings.
The firm’s designs attracted the attention of the global design practice Perkins + Will, and with a strategic merger in 2010, Shore Tilbe Perkins + Will became the firms’ second Canadian studio. Two recent projects on Canadian university campuses exemplify the Toronto studio’s focus on the creation of unique, publicly-orientated architecture that seeks poetic inspiration from the building programme and context.
The design process focuses on the innovative application of existing technologies to create a finely crafted and materially rich architectural expression. In the Engineering Five building at the University of Waterloo, illustrated here, the building skin is articulated as an abstract graphic field against which the gestures of public movement and the space of social interaction are read.
The Hazel Mcallion Academic Learning Centre is an academic library inspired by Japanese three-dimensional puzzle boxes. A strong material contrast and a series of volumetric manipulations articulate the programme and the building’s response to the environment and a campus-wide public space system.
In both projects, abstraction is used to transcend normative architectural readings in favour of a distilled primary reading. The conventions of window, doors and floor slabs give way to the perception of material and form which resonate strongly within their built and natural context. These buildings define powerful new images for the institutions and create new loci of social and intellectual convergence.