March 12, 2007
by Canadian Architect
At sunset on Saturday, June 2, 2007, the Royal Ontario Museum will hold its official Architectural Opening & Building Dedication a free public event to celebrate the construction completion of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. On this historic occasion, Governor General Michalle Jean will officially open the dramatic new wing of the Museum, named in honour of Michael Lee-Chin, whose lead donation of $30 million launched the Renaissance ROM expansion project. The Lee-Chin Crystal will then open to the public for the first time, with free admission overnight and through Sunday, June 3. Seven spectacular gallery spaces on four floors, two special exhibitions, new retail and dining facilities, and the Museums new main entrance will open on June 2 following the opening celebrations.
ROM Director and CEO William Thorsell states, It is difficult to imagine a more eloquent symbol of the ROMs growth and revitalization than Daniel Libeskinds Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. With its dynamic form, expansive public areas, and superb gallery spaces, the building is at once inspiring and practical. It will provide Toronto residents and visitors with a place for contemplation, learning, and fun. The Royal Ontario Museum is deeply grateful to Michael Lee-Chin for making this superb building possible.
For a special period until June 10, enthusiasts of contemporary design have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy Daniel Libeskinds architectural design in its purest form throughout the building. During this period only, most of the buildings unique spaces will be empty and open to the public before installation of permanent exhibits, along with the rest of the building. On June 11, the gallery floors will temporarily close for the installation of permanent exhibits, but special exhibitions and public amenities remain open for visitors.
On the evening of June 2, the public Architectural Opening & Building Dedication festivities will be celebrated on the new Bloor Street Plaza in front of the Lee-Chin Crystal. Those in attendance will experience A World of Possibilities, a 75-minute live concert event beginning at sundown, with star performances on three stages, climaxing in the illumination of the buildings impressive faade. This event will be filmed for television broadcast.
After this unique performance, the doors of the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will open to the public for the first time, with free public admission by timed tickets. The Museum will remain open, with free admission, until 6:00pm on Sunday, June 3; regular admission rates come back into effect on Monday, June 4. The Architectural Opening & Building Dedication is the first of many special opening events through the 2007/2008 season. As each of the Lee-Chin Crystals seven permanent galleries is completed over the subsequent months, it will be marked by a special opening event.
Located at one of Canadas most important urban intersections, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will be the distinctive new symbol of Toronto for the 21st century, forming the hub of a renewed cultural district downtown. At the heart of its diverse community, this vibrant, light-filled structure transforms the streetscape in a bold urban gesture, establishing the ROM as the countrys premier cultural and social destination for residents and tourists alike.
The 175,000-square-foot, aluminum-and-glass-covered Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will house seven permanent galleries overlooking Bloor Street West. It also contains a graceful new main entrance and lobby, the soaring four-storey interior Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court, the sizeable new ROM Museum Store, the attractive fine dining destination Crystal Five (C5) Restaurant Lounge (opening late June 2007), excellent special events facilities, and Canadas largest space for international exhibitions the Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall, below the lobby.
The Lee-Chin Crystal is a composition of five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that gently interfaces with the historic buildings that embrace it. With hardly a right angle anywhere, its sloping walls create unique interior spaces with soaring volumes and such ingenious details as the Spirit House, a void at the heart of the building that is traversed by criss-crossing bridges. Slashing windows admit natural light and create uniquely-framed views of the cityscape outside. The historic faades are revealed on the interior in large and small sections, while the sleek, contemporary walls form dramatic backdrops for historic artifacts. Circulation is vastly improved through the addition of the Stair of Wonders, a cabinet of curiosities in itself, plus several new elevators and links into the historic wings.