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Functional
Programming

Most functional programming exercises merely establish the quantitative amounts of space required and perhaps the relationships between program components. This, in our view, is only the first step in establishing a space program. To achieve a result that is greater than the sum of it parts requires the inclusion of the qualitative aspect of the space program: the character of the place is as important as its physical dimensions. Qualities of light, proportion, and materiality, are among the factors that ultimately contribute to a building to facilitate that which otherwise would be only functional in its most basic elements.

SICKKIDS RESEARCH TOWER

The Sick Children’s Hospital Research Tower (above) in Toronto is a 708,000 square foot, 22-storey facility with a complex range of facilities and services consisting of an education wing, administrative space, wet and dry labs, retail space, lobby space, a 300-seat auditorium, break out meeting rooms, conference rooms, public spaces and below-grade parking. In an attempt to make a community out of the vertically organized plan, lab neighborhoods are linked by kitchens and informal meeting spaces that extend over a couple of stories.

A large and complicated building program on an equally complicated urban block that does a marvellous job of asserting itself when appropriate and receding at other moments in deference to neighbours with whom it shares the block. Done less skillfully, or with timidity, it would have overwhelmed its setting, and not done justice to its important function. A very good (and rare) example of large urban institutional architecture.

Mr. Alex Krieger
Juror, Toronto Architecture and Urban Design Awards 2003
Professor and Chairman, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University commenting on The Bahen Centre for Information Technology at the University of Toronto.