Trent: Young, Unique and Award-winning
Trent University is unique amongst the institutions created during the 1960s’ era of expansion in provincial higher education. The university was planned over an unprecedented three-year period by Ron Thom and his team of architects and designers. The end result was a coherent architectural style with a total design from the inside-out. It was the only university of the era that was designed as a ready-made collegiate institution with a collection of scholarly villages situated around a central library complex. The architectural design won several contemporary awards and continues to be seen as one of the best examples of the mid-century modern style in North America.
The early design was replete with both ingenious design and infuriating faults, as is the case with all truly innovative architectural achievements. Both the modern design and the pastoral setting of Trent University continues to inspire and attract new students. Five decades of growth and innovation have led to a rich campus exploding in art, sculptures, commemorative plaques and monuments, furniture, elements of architecture and design as well as altered natural spaces and indigenous, sacred spaces. Trent’s cultural resources and dynamic spaces play a role in attracting new students, the retention of current students, and the national and international reputation of the institution as one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.
The Architectural Vision
“I believe a university’s physical environment is a fundamental part of the educational experience. A quality education requires an understanding and appreciation of beauty and design. Ron Thom conceived the buildings of Trent to grow out of the landscape. It’s a superb example of a conceptual architecture that is respectful of the location.” Thomas Symons...
Ron Thom Master Planner
Ron Thom (1923-86) surged to the forefront of Canadian architecture in the heady years after World War II. His work at Trent University brought him international acclaim, and for many admirers, it remains the most exemplary masterpiece of his career and secured his place in the pantheon of Canadian architects.