Toronto’s downtown campuses offer state-of-the-art classrooms, lecture halls, computer labs and special event venues year-round. Here’s a close look at how five unique campuses provide the canvas for collaborative and creative group gatherings.
University of Toronto
Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto is among Canada’s oldest universities. It ranks 22nd out of 1,000 top performers in the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities and sixth among North America’s public universities.
Campus Vibe: Situated near the Royal Ontario Museum and other downtown attractions, a stroll through the university’s St. George Campus provides Ivy League vibes as well as glimpses of the future thanks to state-of-the-art meeting and event facilities within both historic and modern architecture.
Meetings & Events: On the St. George Campus, there are dozens of meeting and event spaces to choose from, but Gothic-style Trinity College is notable for the Trinity College Chapel, perfect for recitals and artistic performances, George Ignatieff Theatre for lectures and the Private Dining Room for working lunches. Venue rentals on the St. George Campus are decentralized, so it’s a good idea to contact the Campus Events Office to learn about the many options and for help booking venues. Also downtown, the Chestnut Conference Centre is owned and operated by the University of Toronto and offers 12 unique meeting spaces over 20,000 sq. ft. of space.
As Canada’s largest school for art, design and media, the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) champions cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies.
Campus Vibe: With international students representing over 25% of OCAD U’s full-time undergraduate complement, the campus provides a welcoming home to the exchange of creative ideas and diverse concepts. The tight-knit community is close to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Chinatown and the Entertainment District.
Meetings & Events: Fondly known as the “tabletop,” the award-winning Rosalie Sharp Centre for Design is a striking downtown landmark soaring high above the main campus building on 12 multi-coloured stilts. The building’s Great Hall is just one of the spaces available to rent year-round and is perfect for exhibitions and receptions. In addition, OCAD U offers 14,000 sq. ft. of flexible studio space on Toronto’s waterfront, suitable for strategic planning sessions, hackathons and leadership training.
Toronto Metropolitan University
Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) leads by example when it comes to embracing difficult conversations, taking a hard look at the status quo and working to make itself, and the city, a better place. TMU is renowned for fostering creative and entrepreneurial thinking, notably through its DMZ initiative, a startup incubator for tech entrepreneurs that ranks among the best in North America.
Campus Vibe: You can’t get any closer to the city centre than TMU, located just steps to vibrant Yonge-Dundas Square, the Eaton Centre, restaurants and nightlife. Over several decades, the university has expanded into the surrounding tree-lined neighbourhoods to occupy an eclectic mix of heritage, mid-century and modern architecture, including the dynamic new Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre.
Meetings & Events: Conveniently close to public transit, the campus offers venues for any occasion, such as corporate meetings, conferences and lectures and event banquets. The Rogers Communications Centre and Kerr Hall have even hosted movie shoots, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Meeting planners are encouraged to tap into on-campus expertise. For example, The Creative School at 80 Gould Street, is home to the Red Bull Gaming Hub, a high-performance facility for both learning and elite-level gaming.
George Brown College
George Brown College offers a blend of theory and hands-on experience at its three neighbourhood-friendly and very walkable campuses — St. James Campus, Casa Loma Campus and Waterfront Campus. George Brown’s strong industry partnerships provide students with access to the latest field education opportunities.
Campus Vibe: George Brown’s renowned Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Program is located on the St. James Campus in historic Old Toronto, just steps from inspiring restaurants, bars, event venues and attractions such as St. Lawrence Market, the nearby Distillery District and the Globe and Mail Centre for special events.
Meetings & Events: Hosting a business event at George Brown is a great way to support the next generation of hospitality professionals. 215 King St. East is the food, beverage and hospitality hub for the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts program. The venue has event rooms for meetings, receptions and seated dinners as well as a contemporary wine theatre and tasting stations. The Chefs’ House restaurant is where culinary, beverage and hospitality students are mentored by industry professionals and apply their skills and knowledge in a real world setting.
MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District is a learning campus, but not of the traditional college or university kind. Founded in 2000, MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub, focusing on cleantech, health, fintech and enterprise software and supporting over 1,400 Canadian science and tech companies at every stage of their development with customized resources.
Campus Vibe: What better place to collaborate and problem solve than on either of MaRS’s two Toronto locations — on College Street and at the waterfront — where tenants are described as positive, bold and results-driven.
Meetings & Events: With a façade dating back to 1913, the MaRS Centre on College St. is a blend of historic and modern architecture. Inside, the landmark offers high-tech collaboration rooms as well as a full-service auditorium and a soaring four-storey glass atrium for large conferences and exhibition-style events.
The lakeside location, MaRS Waterfront will soon be open for event rentals. The Nexus lounge-event-conference space features panoramic views of Lake Ontario, two amphitheatres, three conference rooms, private meeting rooms and outdoor terraces.