George Brown College receives historic donation as we break ground on tall-wood building, Limberlost Place

Limberlost Place groundbreaking group shot

George Brown College officially broke ground on what promises to be an iconic addition to our Waterfront Campus and to the Toronto skyline. With Limberlost Place, we are raising the bar for sustainable construction and design thanks to a $10-million donation from Canadian business leader and philanthropist Jack Cockwell who is motivated by his passion for sustainability, the environment, and future generations. 

George Brown hosted a groundbreaking celebration on December 14 with Jack Cockwell, Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop, and Toronto Mayor John Tory. Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near Huntsville, Ontario, was the inspiration for the name of the building, formerly called The Arbour, and now Limberlost Place. When complete, the 10-storey tall-wood, mass-timber, net-zero carbon emissions building will be the first institutional building of its kind in Ontario. It is scheduled to open in summer 2024. 

“This signature building not only represents an important addition to George Brown’s Waterfront Campus but also signifies its strong commitment to sustainable development with innovative design and extensive use of natural building materials,” said Cockwell. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to play a small part in the building of Limberlost Place, and hope that future generations will benefit from the enhanced education, knowledge and innovation it will serve to facilitate.”  

Cockwell’s $10-million gift builds on his earlier $8-million donation to George Brown College. The combined $18 million represents the largest donation to an Ontario college. 

“We are grateful to Mr. Cockwell for his incredibly generous donation that will allow us to build this impressive new centre for learning and deepen George Brown College’s commitment to sustainability and to further its role as a community-builder,” said Dr. Gervan Fearon, President of George Brown College. “Limberlost Place highlights the future leadership role George Brown will play in the city’s Waterfront development as a sustainable city. This innovative and stylish addition to the city skyline will add to the vitality and modernization of Toronto’s beautiful waterfront and will enhance the facilities of George Brown students to work, study, learn and grow. We welcome students from around the world and we are excited to experience a uniquely Canadian building.” 

Limberlost Place will adapt to changing academic needs and represents a step forward in response to climate change 

Limberlost Place will serve as the new home for the School of Architectural Studies, the School of Computer Technology and a new childcare facility. It will also house a research hub called the Brookfield Sustainability Institute. The building will also dedicate space to Truth and Reconciliation and to celebrating Indigenous culture.  

The building will not need to use fossil fuels for heating or cooling and will have the ability to generate the same amount of energy it consumes in part through solar energy and deep-water cooling. 

“The federal government is proud to support George Brown College in their construction of this sustainable and innovative building,” said Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson. “This project will demonstrate how innovation in Canadian wood products, systems, and building design and construction can contribute to meeting our climate targets, stimulating economic growth, and building more resilient and sustainable communities.” 

Visit for more information about the project. 

Limberlost Place groundbreaking event

Photo, top of the page: L-R - Member of Provincial Parliament (Spadina-Fort York) Chris Glover; Jill Dunlop, Ontario Minister of Colleges & Universities; Gareth Cockwell; Toronto Mayor John Tory; Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; George Brown College President Dr. Gervan Fearon; Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy; and George Brown College Board of Governors Chair Kevin Costante.

Photo, bottom: L-R - George Brown College Board of Governors Chair Kevin Costante; Gareth Cockwell; Toronto Mayor John Tory; and George Brown College President Dr. Gervan Fearon.