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Why Toronto Libraries Have a Bright Future

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The city’s newest branches combine dramatic architecture and cutting-edge technology

There’s nothing quiet about the ambitions of Toronto’s latest libraries.

Opened last spring, the city’s 99th branch on Fort York Boulevard is a contemporary take on the traditional book repository. For one thing, the beautifully angular, KPMB-designed building could easily be mistaken for an art gallery. For another, it’s home to a lot more than just literature. On the second floor, a Digital Innovation Hub stocked with a MakerBot Replicator 3-D printer lets visitors manufacture everything from jewellery to phone cases. (Last December, the library even unveiled a Christmas tree decorated in 3-D printed ornaments.) No wonder the building has quickly established itself as a vibrant neighbourhood hub, earning a place in the Site Seeing section of our summer issue’s King West Guide.

Now, another next-generation cultural hub has joined the ranks. The east end’s recently-opened Scarborough Civic Centre Branch is a similarly light-soaked space buzzing with energy. Flexible indoor social areas make it a vibrant neighbourhood meeting place, while such high-tech amenities as a green screen studio make state-of-the-art technology accessible to everyone.

Thanks to architects LGA Architectural Partners and Philip H. Carter, the library’s community-minded attitude is thoughtfully expressed by its eye-catching exterior. When we first profiled the then-under-construction project back in the spring, we noted that the branch’s four sloped green roofs recall the nearby Scarborough Bluffs. Now that the building’s finished, this landscaping has transformed the library’s urban site into a green oasis. A glulam timber frame adds a sense of warmth, while the structure’s horizontality contrasts well with the abutting vertical Scarborough Civic Centre.

Later this year, TPL will start construction on its next architectural gem: a new Albion branch designed by Perkins + Will. Three other branch renovations are slated to begin in 2016.

For more on the Scarborough Civic Centre Branch, read Azure‘s recent post about the building.

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Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.

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