In 2004, the Colony Hotel was purchased by the University of Toronto and converted into 89 Chestnut Residence. Many common areas in the building had not been renovated to reflect the new tenancy and needs of the students and staff currently utilizing the space.

In Fall 2015 consultation on a reimagined space for Chestnut Residence began. Staff recognized the need to revitalize several spaces and started by doing a space planning review of all student spaces (common areas, dining halls) and the Residence Life Office area. Students and staff were involved in this process which took about a year with consultations, planning and design, and construction. The architects chosen were a Toronto-based firm called Superkul. The project was made possible with funds that came from the Provost and through departmental funds.

Given the scope of work, it was decided to break the project down into phases. Phase 1 included the dining hall and residence life offices. In terms of the new spaces:

The Dining Hall capacity was increased from 300-350 with an emphasis on harvest style seating that would allow for more variable uses. The area was brightened and modernized and the overall flow for users was enhanced.

The Residence Life Office expanded to bring all staff together in one location. The previously open hallway was enclosed and the whole space was modernized for maximum usability. More functional work and meeting spaces were created to allow collaboration within the team.

The new space is loved by both residents and staff and has seen many other departments and campus’ tour through for inspiration on their own projects.