Five people, including Humber College president and CEO Ann Marie Vaughan, stand on a stage. One is holding an award.

Humber College received silver at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Awards of Excellence for the innovative and sustainable Humber Cultural Hub (HCH).

Humber earned the award in the Construction Award category, which recognizes an institution or organization that has demonstrated excellence in the development and delivery of modern construction practices that ensure effective and efficient future focused construction project delivery which considers the future sustainability ambitions and needs of this sector.

“It’s wonderful to receive that recognition from colleagues and other institutions from around the world saying ‘You know what? Yes, Humber, that is exciting. That is innovative. That is best practice. Well done.’ It gives you a feeling that we’re on the right track when we deliver these projects,” said Angelo Presta, associate vice-president, Facilities Management and Development.  

The WFCP Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding contributions from member institutions and associations that achieve the vision of the Federation and celebrate accomplishments in the global colleges and polytechnics sector. The awards seek to distinguish WFCP member institutions and individuals whose exceptional initiatives are strengthening applied learning and research outcomes.  

Presta noted the other finalists were from China and England, respectively.

The HCH, which will be located at Lakeshore Campus, is a 365,000- square- foot facility that includes a new 500-seat Performance Hall as well as a 140-seat Music Recital Hall and an informal interior amphitheatre designed for festivals, public events, and community gatherings.

Will house the Centre for Creative Business Innovation

It will also have film studios and screening rooms for student and industry use, and a Comedy Cabaret for private and public comedy performances. Humber’s Centre for Creative Business Innovation, which supports industry through applied research and creativity-driven innovation, will also be housed in the HCH. There will also be an Indigenous classroom and garden, while Indigenous design will be woven throughout the building.

The HCH will benefit culturally underserved local communities and improve access to arts and culture outside Toronto’s downtown core. Cultural and community organizations will have much needed, new performance arts space. Beyond Humber’s own programming, the project will enable 200 performances or events initiated by artists and external organizations that existing facilities are currently unable to accommodate.

It's billed as being a catalyst for developing the next generation of artistic, cultural and creative leaders and that it will inspire creativity, support a connected community and encourage public appreciation of the arts while offering world-class film, media and performance facilities.  

The HCH is being built to the highest standards of sustainability including LEED Platinum and CAGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard certifications as well as the Toronto Green Standard.  

The building will not have any equipment or systems using natural gas. The only other source of energy outside geothermal and solar panels will be electricity supplied by Ontario’s power grid, which mostly relies on hydro and nuclear energy.  

Mass timber used in construction

Mass timber throughout the HCH uses carbon capture sourced from renewable forests to store carbon and displace high carbon and non-renewable cement, brick and steel from traditional construction. By utilizing a high-performance building envelope, the project will reduce heating costs, and with the strategic use of glazing and shading, reduce solar heat gain and loss.  

Accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors and other groups was also top of mind when designing the building. For example, theatre seats in the Recital Hall will be removeable to create additional wheelchair positions in flexible spaces where needed. This is in addition to the existing wheelchair and companion positions that will be built to accommodate the code requirements.

The Performance Hall sound systems will also include listening assistance devices.

Presta stressed that the facility is for the whole campus to use. There will be classrooms for use by various faculties, a new gymnasium and cafeteria, labs and more than 300 student residence rooms.  

“The Humber Cultural Hub will have resources and services for the entire campus community,” said Presta.

The first phase of construction for the Cultural Hub is expected to be completed by spring 2024. The second phase is expected to be completed by 2026.