Robertson Davies once told a group of architects that they were “the designers of the scenery against which we act out the drama of our personal lives.” Ron Thom seems to have taken this observation to heart in designing the college’s public rooms and especially the quadrangle, which, with its elegant clock tower, rectangular pools, splashing fountains, irregular walls of old gold and cinnamon brick, flagstone walkways, and pleasant lawns, has a captivating, ever-changing beauty. Shadowy morning light gradually gives way there to the direct sun of noon, the angled shadows of afternoon and evening, and the dark of night, the passage of the hours marked by the clock, by the striking of the bell, and by the flow of fellows to and from meals, classes, offices. As the seasons change, so too does the colour palette, the fresh green of spring slowly darkening into the fall, replaced in turn by the clean white of winter’s new snow. The quadrangle invites quiet contemplation from the Common Room and from residents’ windows, permitting unobtrusive observation of others’ lives. Indeed, this outdoor living room is perhaps the most observed space in the college.
Grant, Judith Skelton. A Meeting of Minds: The Massey College Story. University of Toronto Press, 2015. p. 312