Welcoming Students at U of T's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)

November 29, 2021


Entro contributed to the recent lobby and entrance renovation at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Our interior and exterior signage and wayfinding program not only complement the renovated space, but also integrate with the architectural features of the building.

The University’s Academic Plan identified OISE as a priority for renovation, to bring spaces up-to-date and meet contemporary sustainability and accessibility requirements. The completed lobby renovation, by Gow Hastings Architects and Two Row Architect, introduces important Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, allowing them to permeate the fabric of the 40-year old brutalist building in downtown Toronto. The materials, graphics, lighting and orientation incorporate Indigenous philosophy. The project was completed in the summer of 2021.

The lobby is the first point of contact for visitors, faculty and students, and it could be confusing to navigate. The new entrance now provides clear signage that promotes the University of Toronto and OISE brand. The bright new design includes flexible furniture that is arranged in a circular fashion, to evoke a feeling of completeness and ensure a non-hierarchical order for students and faculty to gather. A floor-to-ceiling “Dish with One Spoon” Wampum belt symbolizes the importance of shared respect for each other and the land, while lights on the ceiling form the Pleiades star cluster.

Copper and cedar, used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, feature prominently in the lobby and in our signage. A copper cross on the floor provides orientation to north, east, south and west, contrasting the city grid of the building’s location.

The updated entryway on Bloor has enhanced wayfinding, improved accessibility and offers a new space for students and faculty to meet and collaborate. Entro’s bold brand identification creates a stark contrast to the brutalist aggregate concrete backdrop. The design invites warmth and community to OISE students, faculty, and visitors.

Photography: Tom Arban