Tunnel art
The tunnel system under University Ave. has been refurbished with brightly-coloured paintings and music. (Photo: Courtesy of Simon Tanenbaum)

Tunnel system under University Ave. transformed with bright paintings and music

The underground tunnel system connecting UHN to neighbouring hospitals along University Ave. has been transformed.

The tunnel system, which connects SickKids, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Toronto Rehab, has been in use since the 1970s, but could be tricky to navigate.

In 2019, members of the Weston Family Foundation approached UHN with an idea to reimagine the tunnels for the patients, families and healthcare workers who travel through it while giving or receiving care.

The Foundation enlisted world-renowned designer Stefan Sagmeister and UHN's Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) to lead the project alongside UHN Foundation.

Each element of the tunnel design by Sagmeister is the result of research into wellness and emotional well-being. The new multi-patterned walls – hand-painted by local artists who were out of work during the pandemic – and brightly coloured floors are meant to create a feeling of hope and serenity.

The tunnel is also equipped with speakers to play music — composed and recorded specifically for this project by pianist Victoria Hong — to add another layer to the unique, inviting atmosphere.

While the renovation took place in spring 2022, the tunnel system officially re-opened with a ribbon cutting on Oct. 31.

The reinvigorated space is meant to provide respite for patients, as well as for the dedicated family members, medical professionals and hospital workers who travel through them every day.

Lisa Vanlint and Haidar Mashlab
Lisa Vanlint, Manager, Environmental Sustainability, Energy & Environment, (R), helps promote sustainable habits at UHN with Haidar Mashlab, Sustainability Coordinator, Energy & Environment. (Photo: UHN)

And the winner is … UHN

UHN has once again proved its status as a leading green hospital – this time claiming first place in the Waste Reduction Week Inter-Hospital Challenge.

This Inter-Hospital Challenge has been led by UHN's Energy & Environment team, part of Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO), for the past seven years.

The challenge, which takes place during the third week of October for Waste Reduction Week, serves as a friendly competition to get hospitals to think more sustainably. Participating hospitals simply encourage staff to complete a Waste Reduction Week quiz and the organization with the most staff participation wins.

This year's challenge was the biggest yet with eight Ontario healthcare organizations participating: UHN, Unity Health Toronto, Trillium Health Partners, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Sinai Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Hamilton Health Sciences and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

A total of 2,130 staff from across all UHN sites took the quiz, collecting an average score of 74 per cent.

While most participants knew PPE belongs in the garbage, a common unknown was that paper coffee cups also belong in the garbage, as to not contaminate recycling.

Congratulations to Energy & Environment and its 700 Green Team volunteers for another successful Waste Reduction Week.

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