Area’s busiest library gets $17 mil makeover
Central community hub forced to shut its doors for three months this winter
The North York Central Library (NYCL) closed its doors to the public on Dec. 4 to undergo extensive renovations that are part of a $17 million project to redesign the building.
“We were open. It was our plan to stay open, but the disruption from the construction became too great, so we made the decision to [temporarily] close,” said Kim Huntley, manager of the central branch.
The initial phase started in July 2016 and will continue until the spring, in an effort to modernize and create an open concept community space.
The library was built in 1987 and Huntley said this renovation will help to create a 21st-century environment that fosters collaborative learning. The construction began in July 2016 and will continue until the spring.
“We are going to be focusing on creating new spaces where people can work together,” she said.
Huntley said the second floor will have a content creation space that includes areas where people can record audio and video.
According to Huntley, this branch is the busiest branch in the Toronto public library system, with about 1.5 million visitors a year.
Huntley said, with a lot of newcomers and condominiums in the area, this number is expected to rise. “Many people come to the library for a social space … to meet up with friends and to talk.” In addition to the new innovation spaces, the library will also feature areas for adults, teens and children, including an early literacy learning centre.
The project is being undertaken by Diamond Schmitt Architects. One of the lead architects for the project, Gary McCluskie said they plan to maintain the postmodernist design of the building, originally designed by Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama.
“[We are] taking the great idea of this building, and after 30 years, we are transforming it,” said McCluskie.
McCluskie said the multi-year project will be carried out in phases, with the renovations of the central atrium and second floor to be completed first, then work will start up to the sixth floor of the building.
In the final phase, there are conceptual plans for a rooftop reading garden and a concourse event rental space, to be completed by 2020.
Library-goers can pick up or drop off books at a pop-up library at the North York Centre Mall.
“It was our plan to stay open, but the disruption from the construction became too great.”
A rendering of the North York Central Library’s new modern design