Doors Open: Five places you should snoop on to see Toronto's urban future in motion
This weekend's Doors Open festival is a unique opportunity to crash some of Toronto's greatest spaces. Important public buildings will provide an extra welcome for visitors; if you haven't seen the historic Don Jail, Osgoode Hall, Queen's Park or Fort York, now's the time. But what about the city of the present and future? Here are some buildings and landscapes that point toward the Toronto that's being built in 2016.
Queen Richmond Centre West
DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF SWEENY&CO ARCHITECTS
It's the flying office tower: an 11-storey building that's been jacked up into the air, making room for bright, sustainable office space while leaving old brick-and-beam lofts in place. As I wrote in December, it "has an almost magical simplicity: It seems to defy gravity, and the equally inevitable force of development pressure." This project by architects Sweeny & Co for developers Allied REIT was one of Toronto's best for 2015, and it sets a valuable precedent for balancing heritage and new construction.
COURTESY OF MORIYAMA & TESHIMA
Don Mills welcomed a world-class museum of Islamic art with the Aga Khan Museum in 2014, but the neighbourhood also got two other jewels: the adjacent Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre. The centre was designed by the great Indian architect Charles Correa with locals Moriyama & Teshima, and it usually restricts sightseers to specific tours but it is open all weekend. Its prayer hall or jamatkhana, capped with a sublime glass roof and filled with numinous light, is one of the great rooms in Toronto.
Modernest House 4
STEVEN EVANS PHOTOGRAPHY
How should a contemporary house land in a Victorian neighbourhood? Architects Kyra Clarkson and Chris Glaisek have an answer: As Modernest, they've built four infill houses that are beautiful black boxes, assertively modernist and skillfully designed to fit their lots and blocks. They are, as I wrote last year, setting an example for other builders and architects about how to do modern right. "House 4" in the Annex, where Clarkson and Glaisek live with their kids, is open this weekend.
Mobile Ink Factory
FERNANDO MORALES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
DeRAIL – a new program for art, architecture and performance along the West Toronto Railpath – launches its first commission this weekend. Mobile Ink Factory sees the artist and designer Jason Logan leading guided walks along the Railpath: Visitors will make ink from natural elements collected along the way, turning the landscape into art supplies.
DEBORAH BAIC/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Some of the city's leading design firms are opening their offices. Particular highlights: the landscape architects DTAH, in a remarkable modernist building just steps from Yonge and Bloor; downtown, Moriyama & Teshima, Teeple Architects and Hariri Pontarini; and Denegri Bessai in the Annex. Further west, the finely crafted home/office of Studio Junction, shown above, is a rare treat: located in a laneway, it suggests one way that redevelopment could add new layers and life to the city.
Map: where to find the key attractions
Alex Bozikovic is The Globe and Mail's architecture critic.