Located on the west side of the U of T campus, bordered by Spadina, Willcocks, and Huron, New College is composed of three distinctive buildings — Wetmore Hall, Wilson Hall, and 45 Willcocks.
New College was the first to provide a home to students from all faculties, as well as the first to integrate residential, academic and administrative functions within one building. Originally built in a single architectural style and constructed around a central quad, the college’s features mirrored those of New College in Oxford, England. In fact, the remains of a 700-year-old medieval stone angel from the original structure of the Oxford college now grace Wetmore Lounge, donated in 1965 by the warden of New College at Oxford University.
Wetmore and Wilson Halls
Wetmore and Wilson, the two original buildings, evoke the spirit and ideology of 1960s architecture. Building architect Macy Dubois of the firm Fairfield & Dubois, was asked to design a structure in a “curvilinear form,” that integrated residential, academic, and administrative functions. New College was the first of U of T’s residential colleges and was designed to directly integrate student life, with residence units on upper floors and the library, dining hall, academic facilities, and administration offices on the lower floors.
The buildings have a serpentine design that includes multiple paths of entry, horizontal layout, and integrated living, working and studying spaces. These were conscious choices about the future use of the space that were made by the architect and the members of the college. The architecture is not that of a monolithic structure, but rather that of an open organization that grows with its community. Interestingly, you can’t enter New College from Spadina Avenue. This is because at the time of designing the College, Spadina was supposed to become an expressway. The architects intended for the College to be closed off from Spadina to create a retreat from the street noise.
Wetmore and Wilson Halls, while constructed in very similar styles, do have differences in their use of space. In part this may the result of differences in opinion about the ideal environment for teaching and learning voiced by two giants in Canadian thought, Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. The two men were colleagues and intellectual sparring partners at Victoria College and St. Michael’s during New’s founding years.
New College III
Located at 45 Willcocks, New College III is the newest of the College’s three buildings. Designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architectes, it opened in 2003, and like the College’s original buildings it was designed to be a multi-use space. It contains seven of residence rooms, administrative offices and faculty offices, the William Doo Auditorium, and a variety of multi-use student spaces. The building’s design was awarded a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence in 2001.
New College Plaza
Constructed as part of New College’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the New College Plaza was designed to enhance the streetscape on Willcocks Street, bringing attention to the New College campus and increasing the functionality of the existing space. The New College Student Council (NCSC) and New College alumnus and strong supporter Richard Rooney (B.A., 1977) donated a combined $800,000 to build the plaza, intended as a new space for students to gather and foster an even stronger sense of community within the College. The plaza design includes upgraded landscaping, the installation of bicycle racks and several large benches. The design was mindful of New College’s distinctive architectural style and encourages social interaction by offering the U of T community more space to gather and relax.
When the plaza opened in June 2018, it immediately became a busy hub—the active site for convocation selfies of graduating students and guests alike. Benches invite conversation, plants brighten the view, and a series of spotlights keep the area well lit at night. Having a place to foster this sense of connection is particularly important as community engagement is a significant part of New College’s mission and programming.