Albion District Library
Award of Merit Winner
Albion District Library
PERKINS+WILL CANADA INC.
A fixture of Rexdale, Albion Library sits within a mix of low-rise buildings along a busy four-lane road, where it has played a vital role for many decades. Physically, it buffers a residential neighbourhood from a road and mall to the north. Programmatically, it offers patrons a wide range of services that go beyond lending—including cultural orientation, social integration, employment skills, and access to technology and knowledge. During consultations for a new library to take the existing one’s place, community members described the library as the “Switzerland” of a troubled urban realm.
While residents recognized that the existing building was no longer fit for its purpose, they were concerned about the closure that would be required to undertake a renovation. In response, the project team proposed to build a new library on the adjacent parking lot, allowing the existing building to remain open over the two years required for construction. Once the new library is complete, the existing building will be demolished and replaced with a landscaped parking lot that will double as a public space and market square.
The design concept for the new building reflects the library’s dual role as a refuge and a resource. In plan, the multi-room building is a pure square punctuated by three courtyards and four interior pavilions. Its perimeter is marked by a polychrome terracotta tile screen, creating a richly textured mass. The screen is lifted at its corners, creating an entry forecourt for the library and articulating key program areas, including an urban living room and lounges for teens and children. The lifted corners also give a sloping form to the green roof, bringing light and water to the courtyard gardens.
Internally, the courtyards and pavilion-like elements divide the square plan into a series of open zones beneath a sloping timber roof. Careful composition of positive and negative space creates a rich and varied plan that accommodates open, cellular and private areas, while ensuring ease of access and supervision throughout.
The trio of courtyards bring nature and sunlight deep into all parts of the library. They provide protected outdoor areas and allow for peaceful contemplation, offering a respite from the busy arterial context of Albion Road, while respecting the privacy of adjacent residences. Each garden has a variety of planting and surface treatments, inspiring use and providing visual interest throughout the year.
The new parking lot is designed as a multifunctional public space
capable of accommodating a public market and wide variety of cultural events. The relationship between building and plaza extends the project’s exploration of positive and negative composition to encompass the site as a whole.
CLIENT Toronto Public Library
ARCHITECT TEAM D’Arcy Arthurs, Andrew Frontini, Aimee Drmic, Jason Nelson, Stephen Van Der Mere, Inga Kantor, Yasmeen Bebal
STRUCTURAL Blackwell Structural Engineers
MECHANICAL Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers
ELECTRICAL Mulvey & Banani International
CIVIL MMM Group
LANDSCAPE Dutoit Alsopp Hillier
ACOUSTICS Swallow Accoustic Consultants
INTERIORS Perkins+Will Canada Inc.
CONTRACTOR Aquicon Construction Company Ltd.
COMMUNICATIONS/BAS/SECURITY/AV Mulvey & Banani International
QUANTITY SURVEYING Turner & Townsend CM2R Inc.
AREA 29,000 ft²
BUDGET $12 M
COMPLETION Spring 2017