Demolition-main.jpg 
Demolition of The Residence, a 19-storey building that once housed UHN nursing students, is expected to wrap up in September 2013. (Photo: UHN)
 

It's taken almost five years of planning, jackhammering and bulldozing but the demolition of The Residence at 90 Gerrard St. W. is nearly complete.

In September, the mounds of concrete that occupy the lot will be replaced with a level lot that will be available to UHN for future needs.

"When we started the demolition process, we planned to build a lecture theatre," said Michael Sheeres, executive director of infrastructure at UHN. "But since the demolition began, UHN integrated with Toronto Rehab and built the Krembil Discovery Centre, taking care of our need for new educational facilities. We're revisiting potential long-term uses for the property."

Home for nursing students

The Residence was built in 1969 at the corner of Elizabeth & Gerrard streets to house Toronto General Hospital's student nurses. The building was designed in the brutalist style of architecture that is often used for government buildings, low-rent housing and shopping centres to create functional structures at a low cost.

After over four decades of use, the building began to deteriorate and needed extensive updates that would have required millions of dollars to complete. And, upon completion, UHN would have been left with a structure unable to fit ongoing needs. The decision was made to tear the building down. 

'Best years of my life'

"Every day on my way to work I drive past the construction site and I'm flooded with fond memories," said Sarah Nagel, patient resource coordinator for malignant hematology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "I spent two of the best years of my life living there and seeing the building torn down is very nostalgic."

Sarah was one of the first students to live in The Residence, which she described as an ultra-modern dorm with tiny rooms that could fit nothing more than a bed, dresser and desk.

"Back then all the nursing students were female, so as you can imagine, security was very tight," said Sarah. "No matter how hard the frat boys tried, they could never get past the security guard."

Sports, dances

Strict rules may have been enforced but there was still a healthy work-life balance for students living in The Residence. Sarah recalls playing on the squash courts, studying with classmates in the halls and celebrating her graduation at a dance held in the building's recreation room.

The building is almost gone which means that people will begin to think about what happens next on the site.  The memories that people have of their days at The Residence will live on and if you have some to share, please send to Rylee Irwin, public affairs assistant, at rylee.irwin@uhn.ca.

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