Ron Thom at Trent Iconic Modernism: By Bernadine Dodge
The Modern Movement in architecture and design is a statement of the social aims of the age. ...By asserting itself against subjectivity and equivocation, it discloses a universal, purposeful order and clarity in what appears to be a mental wilderness. Berthold Lubetkin. 1947.
Time magazine, July 18, 1969 “Toronto architect Ronald Thom’s buildings are scaled naturally to the landscape. None rises more than four storeys and their shifting perspectives at one moment recall a walled medieval town, at the next a sculpted fortress.” The Master Plan sets a height limit of four stories. This is set because it approximates the height of the predominant natural feature of the valley, the elm trees…. R.J. Thom Photo Credit: Andy Turnbull
Site of Trent University1960 Photo Credit: Professor Robert Stairs
Champlain College The corner stone for Champlain College was laid in 1965 and the College finally opened in 1967. Photo Credit: Parks’ Studio
Champlain College Photographed from under Faryon Bridge
The buildings designed by Ron Thom for Trent University represent a tension between the naturalistic aspects of Prairie architecture and the Brutalist elements of machine aesthetics.
Faryon BridgeDesigned by associates from Thom’s office and Morden Yolles, Structural Engineer
Science Complex under construction1967 Photograph by Roy Nicholls
Science Building Photograph by Roy Nicolls
Ron Thom: Trent University Master Plan, 1964 The library is considered to be the central building of the campus, the one building used by all members of the University. It has therefore been placed at the confluence of all pedestrian traffic, making it the proper hub of the University. Everyone has to pass it in his normal to and fro.
Ron Thom: Trent University Master Plan, 1964 The main academic square, which is paved and of a size to accommodate assemblies, convocations and outdoor gatherings of all sorts, is at the front door of this main building [Bata Library] and will become the gathering point of the campus…It not only falls in the approximate geographical centre of the plan, but also on the main topographical prominence of the river.
Bata Library Opened October 1969
Ron Thom’s Trent, 1969 Science Complex Bata Library Champlain College Lady Eaton College
Ron Thom, Letter, 1963 “The physical character of a university must reflect its philosophical idea. This must find first expression in the plan because the plan is the underlying framework and it will qualify the patterns of activity on the campus forever. Buildings superimposed on this framework can contradict the idea, or merely reflect it, or, ideally, extend and expand it. Buildings not only grow out of the plan, they are a part of it, one and the same thing. They are the physical reality of the plan.”
Thom’s design of Trent University extended to furniture, draperies and fittings. He chose chairs by designers such as Jacobsen, Aalto, Wegner, Mathsson, Saarinen, Bertoia, and Eames for his buildings. Arne Jacobsen Hans Wegner Alvar Aalto Bruno Mathsson [Kaare Klint ?] Eero Saarinen Harry Bertoia All photographs by Bernadine Dodge 1989
3. 1. 2. 1. Arne Jacobsen 2. Arne Jacobsen 3. Hans Wegner 4. Hans Wegner 4.
Chairs assembled by Trent University Archives for a display at Peterborough Centennial Museum and Archives, 1989