Fort York Branch Library

CompanyKPMB Architects
Lead DesignerKPMB Architects
Design TeamShirley Blumberg (partner-in-charge), Andrew Dyke (associate-in-charge), Richard Unterthiner (project architect), Sanaz Shirshekar, Lynn Pilon (project manager), David Poloway, Dave Smythe (contract administration), Carolyn Lee, Rachel Cyr, Jordan Evans
PrizeArchitectural Design / Institutional Architecture

The Toronto Public Library system is the largest in North America and one of the most used per capita in the world. The new Fort York Branch has become an important community centre in a highly diverse, rapidly evolving neighborhood in Toronto. Unique Heritage Context: The library sits on what was once the original forested shoreline of Lake Ontario at the mouth of Garrison Creek. The building is designed to allow pedestrian access from Fort York Boulevard to the south, to the future park to the north. This pedestrian pathway system will connect under the Bathurst Street Bridge to the historic fort and its grounds. The angular trapezoidal geometry of the pavilion building references the ramparts of the fort, and the extensive use of wood in the interior of the building recalls the old wooden cribbing found buried on site during the archaeological survey. Fort York now finds itself buried in today’s urban fabric. The second floor functions as an extraordinary viewing platform to the heritage site, the city and the lake. The Urban Living Room: In order to fulfill the client’s mandate and vision to be the social heart of the neighborhood - to provide a resource for not only books and CD’s, but also community programs, classes, digital studios and study spaces, and to be the first stop for new immigrants – the functional layout of the building had to provide a high level of flexibility for future program development. Integrated Art: Given the site’s unique history, the clients suggested using Margaret Atwood’s poetry collection, The Journals of Susanna Moodie as a theme for integrated art. Poetry excerpts are featured on the exterior of the building, while The Planters drawing by Charles Pachter is reproduced on the perforated metal fins on the west façade along Bathurst Street.