New College students get a sneak peek at spaces they helped renovate

Mar 28, 2022
Students chat in an airy cafeteria space with cheery green chairs.

New College student spaces will have a fresh look this spring! The Wilson Hall Lounge and 45 Willcocks on the University of Toronto’s St. George campus have been undergoing renovations to make them more welcoming and dynamic spaces that enhance students’ experience and create a sense of community.

The Wilson Hall Lounge is one of the central gathering spaces for New College students and the heart of student life. This heavily used space has been redefined to be a more comfortable lounge that will include fun and functional furniture that allows students to study, eat lunch, and gather in groups. There will be chairs, bar stools, and tables for students who want to work by themselves, as well as an increased number of power outlets.

Once completed, this space will feature an opened-up ceiling to enhance the feeling of a large open space and the old lighting has been replaced with LED lighting. The popular Coffee Shed will also return, after undergoing some modest renovations.

One of the highlights of the space will be a large ‘Welcome Wall’ which will run along the main staircase, from the 40 Willcocks entrance. The wall will feature the word for ‘welcome’ in several Indigenous languages, as well as many of the other languages spoken by New College students. The space will be functional, bright, and welcoming.

This renovation was made possible by the generosity of New College students who three years ago voted on a capital levy to contribute $250,000 to this project. New College is receiving $50,000 a year from students every year for the next five to help pay for this project. As well, $250,000 was received from a competition from the Provost’s Office, the Student Spaces Enhancement University Fund.

Across the street, 45 Willcocks is undergoing phase two of its extensive renovation. Phase one saw the William Doo Auditorium undergo a total revamp, plus the creation of the GNU Lounge, the Den lounge, a Bodyworks Studio and a Multipurpose Room. Both the William Doo Auditorium and the Multipurpose Room have smudging facilities. The work of phase two began outside the building. Previously, the exterior stairs and mezzanine lobby of the building were dark and lacking colour and vibrancy. The main steps to the building will be updated with LED lighting, making the entrance both more inviting and adding an additional level of safety.

The interior entrance was previously an under-used space, but has been transformed into a vibrant and comfortable lounge. The east side of the building is now a solarium, and the green and lush theme continues into the new mezzanine lobby, complete with an abundance of plants and comfortable seating areas for students to gather and socialize. The design is meant to create a welcoming sense of place, something that the students can identify with and be proud to call their own.

This phase of the project will also see the completion of the atrium at the main entrance to the William Doo Auditorium. This bright and open space features an abundance of seating for students, a new Second Cup coffee shop, and spacious offices for the New College Student Council. Once phase two is completed there will be a total of four new lounges for students to use and enjoy – the GNU Lounge and The Den on the lower level of 45 Willcocks, the hangout steps in the William Doo, and the new mezzanine lobby on the first floor.

New College is committed to providing students with spaces that add to a positive learning and living environment. We are looking forward to our entire community being able to enjoy these spaces together!

Artist's illustration of a bright, open cafteria space. The ceiling is studded with tiny lights like stars.
An artist's illustration shows a wide staircase leading up to a cafeteria area.
Artist's illustration of a bright, open cafteria space. The ceiling is studded with tiny lights like stars.
An artist's illustration shows a wide staircase leading up to a cafeteria area.

New College welcomes donations to support the improvement of student spaces, such as student lounges, study spaces and outdoor areas. These projects grow the New College community and encourage learning.

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