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courtesy of Janet Rosenberg & studio


Located in Whitby, one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area, the Durham College Centre for Food (CFF) goes beyond the basic culinary and hospitality management education to encompass event planning and food science, along with agricultural and horticultural programs. The choice of Gow Hastings Architects seemed obvious, premised on the firm’s recent successes in culinary education facilities for Humber, Centennial and George Brown Colleges. 

At just two storeys, the long, low form grounds the building in the landscape, establishing a connection to fertile fields to the south and orchards to the north. Responding to the extension of Consumers Drive eastward, the CFF inflects ever so slightly, its two skewed volumes meeting in a central double-height atrium space—marking the public entry to the building. Distinguished by a lush, green two-storey living wall, the soaring atrium marks the point of division between the culinary programs in the west wing, and the wine and hospitality programs in the east. 

The school’s driving ethos of “field to fork” embodies the current locavore movement that promotes a diet based on locally raised fruit, vegetables and animal products—and steered the design in a direction that makes visible the entire food-cycle process. Much of the south-facing elevation is glazed, with views to the adjacent agricultural fields in which various crops are grown for use in the school’s culinary programs and restaurant. 

In addition to food storage and distribution zones and a mock hotel suite for hospitality students, the comprehensive program includes a variety of teaching, culinary, wine-tasting and bake labs. Unlike the hermetic, cramped and hot kitchens they may invariably experience later on in working life, students enjoy cooking studios with large windows that permit ample natural daylight. Interior windows into the labs allow a greater degree of illumination and visibility, and encourage exploration and interactivity among students, staff and visitors. Flexibility was key to the design, so workstations are capable of rolling about on casters, facilitating a wide range of configurations conducive to ergonomic efficiency and productivity. [1]

Outside, students can be seen planting in the orchards, the fields and the two-acre arboretum. Inside, upon entrance, a soaring atrium framed by floor-to-ceiling interior windows provide immediate glimpses into the Centre’s inner workings, its open kitchens and laboratories encouraging exploration and interactivity. The sequence of spaces culminates on the second floor with Bistro ’67, an elegant and lofty dining space that is open to the public and features expansive views of the fields. 

The restaurant’s strategic elevated position establishes a direct visual connection for diners between their food and its source. This special culinary experience is only matched by Harvest Dinners that are hosted for the local community in the outdoor landscaped spaces adjacent to the fields. [2]

Yet to be realized in the project’s second phase is the construction of a broad ramp that links site and building. As fruit orchards, vegetable crops and greenhouses are already being tended to by horticultural students, it is hoped that this landscaped earthwork will enable on-site harvested produce to be brought directly into the second-floor kitchens for preparation and cooking. A dominant conceptual driver of the project, the ramp is an inspired architectural gesture that contributes a rich sectional dynamic to the CFF site. Moreover, it provides another opportunity for a planted surface, one on which less hardy species can be grown, thanks to the constancy of warm southern exposure.  [1]


ARIDO Award, 2015
SBID International Design Awards, 2015
FX International Interior Design, 2015
Remmy Awards, 2014
Canadian Design-Build Awards, 2014


[1]       Jen, Leslie. “Durham College Centre for Food, Oshawa, Ontario.” Canadian Architect, June 24, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/durham-cff/.

[2]      “Durham College W Galen Weston Centre for Food.” Gow Hastings Architects. Accessed June 9, 2021. http://gowhastings.com/projects/durham-college-w-galen-weston-centre-for-food.

Additional Information

“Food Services.” Durham College. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://durhamcollege.ca/student-life/get-involved/livinggreen/food-services.

Furuto, Alison. “Durham College Centre for Food / Gow Hastings Architects.” ArchDaily. ArchDaily, November 25, 2012. https://www.archdaily.com/295787/durham-college-centre-for-food-gow-hastings-architects.

“Whitby Campus.” Durham College. Accessed June 9, 2021. https://durhamcollege.ca/academic-schools/school-of-hospitality-horticultural-science/whitby-campus.

Project Title: W. Galen Weston Centre for Food
Artists:  Gow Hastings Architects
Place: Whitby, ON

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