The University of Toronto just received a $100M donation to put towards a new innovation centre dedicated to studying artificial intelligence. This is the biggest donation U of T has ever recieved, and it’s all thanks to Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman.

If those names sound familiar to you, it’s because Schwartz and Reisman are a very successful husband-and-wife duo based in Toronto. Schwartz is the CEO of Canada’s oldest private equity firm Onex Corp., while Reisman is the CEO of Indigo Books and Music (hence why the retailer always promotes Heather’s Picks).

“We’re immensely proud and excited to be part of an initiative that will further spark innovation, anchor talent and ideas in Canada, and illuminate the importance of socially responsible technology,” the couple said, according to U of T’s website.

Construction on the 750,000-square-foot Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre will begin this fall. The new building will be located at the corner of College St. and Queen’s Park.

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The centre will have two phases. The first will be a 12-storey tower that will house the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to AI research. The second phase will be a 20-storey tower that will house labs for researchers and innovators in the medicine and genetics field.

New York City-based architectural firm Weiss/Manfredi will design the new U of T complex, which will also include “vertical gardens, soaring atria and collaborative spaces” to promote interaction between scholars and the public.

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Take a look at these stunning renderings:

Ut2 All renderings by Weiss/Manfredi




“The University of Toronto is deeply grateful to Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman for their vision and generosity,” university president Meric Gertler said. “This extraordinary gift will spark Canadian innovation, boost our economy, and enable a deeper examination of how technology shapes our daily lives. It’s a gift that reflects Gerry and Heather’s entrepreneurial spirit and their deep concern for Canadians and global society.”

In addition to the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, U of T is also expected to get a new building at 90 Queen’s Park designed by world-renowned architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The university made the announcement last month and noted the new building would be a “hub for urban and cultural engagement.” However, an official date for the building has not yet been released.