Area’s busiest li­brary gets $17 mil makeover

Cen­tral com­mu­nity hub forced to shut its doors for three months this win­ter

North York Post - - News - by Kristina Kirkaldy

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

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