Doors Open Toronto provides architecture enthusiasts with a yearly opportunity to experience interiors that are not usually available for public access. For May 26-27, 2018, organizers have devised a particularly photogenic theme “Film: the Great Romance.” (link: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/doors-open-toronto/) While the destination list includes some new opportunities to gather insight into Toronto’s creative film industry, there are also some familiar locations that are perennial favorites. Here are my top five architectural interiors that are definitely worth a visit:
Ismaili Centre Toronto
Alex Bozikovic, Architecture Critic at the Globe & Mail, has called the Ismaili Centre’s (49 Wynford Dr.) contemporary central glass-roofed prayer hall, or jamat khana, “one of the great sacred rooms in Canada.” (Toronto Architecture: A City Guide) The building was designed by Charles Correa Associates, with Moriyama & Teshima Architectes, completed 2014. Interior Design by Arriz & Co. with Gotham Notting Hill UK. Matthew Hague’s 2015 article “The Spectacular Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre” for Azure magazine shares key details. During ‘Doors Open’, guests will be provided with a tour of the prayer hall, atrium, social hall and boardroom including the stone terrace and garden.
Home to courts, offices, and facilities for continuing legal education, Osgoode Hall (130 Queen St. W.) is a Neoclassical heritage building (built in various phases during 1832-1991 as described here) that features a variety of well-preserved interiors. A highlight is the Great Library and the adjacent American Reading Room. Derek Flack’s useful 2017 overview “This Hidden Library May be Toronto’s Most Beautiful Room” for blogTO provides some sneak peeks. Doors Open visitors may explore this site with a self-guided tour route staffed by knowledgeable volunteers.
University of Toronto’s Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent
At the University of Toronto’s Downtown Campus, the newly renovated educational facility (2017) for the Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape and Design (1 Spadina Cres.) features an adaptive-reuse approach as well as stunning contemporary interiors. Alec Bozikovic has written about it here for the Globe and Mail.
University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Room
Usually challenging to access without special Library privileges, the interior of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Room at the University of Toronto (130 St. George St.) creates a spatial effect that is both erudite in its geometry and sensuous in its structure and surfaces. It is modern in the expressive power of its minimal parts. (Architect: Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde, New York, with Mathers & Haldenby, Toronto, 1968-72) Linked to the John P. Robarts Research Library, but entered separately, the central reading room has a soaring central volume surrounded by beautiful Brutalist concrete piers and intimate book-lined mezzanines and capped by a panelled ceiling with windowed clerestory. The darkened wood and metal finishes throughout are suitably studious. Lit directly at task level but indirectly elsewhere, the dim interior glows like the rich inner life of a scholar.
TD-Centre 54th floor
A visit to the well-maintained, exclusive executive floor of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s International Style office tower is not to be missed. “The 54th floor is home to some of Canada’s best preserved 1960’s corporate interiors, featuring exquisite architectural details …and the original boardroom table.” (Doors Open)