Instagram by Valentin Pereda (with text by Jon Horvatin)

You saw it on Instagram, now learn the story behind the "shaggy dog" building

Incoming University of Toronto students might not realize it yet, but they’ll be attending classes in and around some of Canada’s most spectacular architecture.

One of the best places to see some of these storied buildings across three campuses is on the U of T Instagram account. These visually striking and even quirky buildings comprise some of the favorite subjects of U of T Instagrammers. But who built them and why are they an important part of the history and landscape of the Greater Toronto Area?

For answers, writer Dominic Ali turned to the man who wrote the book about the U of T’s campuses: Larry Richards. A professor emeritus and former dean of the U of T’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, Richards is also the author of University of Toronto: The Campus Guide published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Below, Richards's expert commentary is illustrated by U of T Instagrammers. Our thanks to all the talented photographers who agreed to let us use their images here.

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