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About Sickkids
About SickKids

May 29, 2014

SickKids centre for discovery and innovation draws hundreds of visitors for Doors Open Toronto

By Kat Kostic

Hundreds of people visited The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning (PGCRL) over the two-day Doors Open festival May 24-25. Participating for the first time in the annual event, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) threw the doors open to one of the most exciting buildings in the Toronto Discovery District.

The PGCRL is located at 686 Bay Street; it was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects.

Guests began their visit by learning about some of the current research done at the PGCRL. They spoke to scientists, trainees and child-health research staff, and participated in hands-on exhibits in the second-floor hall known as the Gallery. One exhibit included colour-blindness cards that taught participants about genetic traits. Another used a simulation doll to explain the process in which the lungs of patients with Cystic Fibrosis make it difficult to breathe. Younger guests had fun building their own DNA, using licorice, marshmallows and toothpicks. 

Door Open 2014

Throughout the day, visitors were also given tours to one of the building’s six neighbourhoods – “Molecules, Cells and Therapies” on the 19th floor. Guides talked about the open-concept three-level collaborative space and explained how it provides scientists, clinicians and students with an area to gather and develop new medical ideas and solutions. Guests enjoyed the breathtaking view of the city through the unique curved glass windows, and snapped away with their cameras and mobile devices.

For the first half of Saturday, tours ended at the 250-seat lecture theatre where Dr. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at SickKids, gave an informative presentation about the Research Institute. “Behind the people that deliver the bedside, there’s a whole set of activities that really make a hospital great, and research, education and learning are part of that continuum,” said Rossant. “It’s unusual for a centre that’s focused on children’s health to have such a breadth and depth of research. But it’s always been important to SickKids and its part of the fabric that makes SickKids such a great place.”

On Saturday afternoon, Duncan Higgins, Associate of Diamond Schmitt, spoke to participants about the architectural planning and philosophy that went into building the PGCRL. He explained how the initial ideas originated with the SickKids values – excellence, innovation, collaboration and integrity – and stressed the importance of designing the building to be sustainable and achieve LEED® Gold Certification.

The 1,500 visitors enjoyed the scientific experiments as much as the cutting-edge architecture. One guest was particularly pleased to see what the research building had evolved into. “I always admired the work SickKids did, but now that I had the ability to step inside the PGCRL, I have an even more profound appreciation for the hospital,” she said.