KPMB has unveiled its designs for a major research building to accompany the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto – Canada’s largest teaching hospital and a world-leading research center. The 35,117-sq-meter building is the largest hybrid mass timber structure for a public building in Canada.
The design reconciles the past, present, and future of CAMH’s campus by honoring the deep Indigenous, pre-settlement origins of the site as a place of gathering, retreat, and security. The curvilinear, wood timber and highly transparent architecture integrate four distinct volumes – communal and clinical spaces, a research sanctuary, and an event space for knowledge exchange on the rooftop – into a new expression of CAMH.
The project culminates a 20-year master plan to transform the center’s downtown campus into an urban village, inspired by the masonry fabric of Toronto’s residential and industrial neighborhoods. The goal with the new building is to remove the stigma associated with mental health institutions and reflect the evolution of CAMH’s leadership and expertise.
Set within a verdant green landscape, the building provides a highly visible and accessible counterpoint to the darker history associated with the former 19th-century palatial asylum that stood on this site, memorialized in remaining fragments of the Heritage Wall built by the residents of the asylum. In this way, it recovers the original meaning of asylum as an oasis for compassion, care, dignity, and respect.
Images: Courtesy of KPMB