Robarts Library Is Getting a Giant New Pavillion
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Robarts Library Is Getting a Giant New Pavillion

Phase two of the iconic library's renewal will consist of a huge new study pavilion.


The University of Toronto’s Robarts Library—also love-hateingly known as “The Turkey,” “Fort Book,” and “The Temple of Tears,” among other things—is about to get the third pavilion it always wanted.

Diamond Schmitt Architects submitted the design proposal for the second phase of the library’s renewal earlier this month, which includes a new five-storey glass pavilion that will be called Robarts Commons. The firm was also at the helm of phase one of Robarts’ renewal, which consisted of the addition of two new arrival halls that wrapped up in May 2011.

When the iconic brutalist megastructure on the western edge of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus opened in 1973, only two of the three pavilions originally destined for the development wound up being built, reports Yonge Street. A third, Huron Street–facing pavilion meant to accompany the nooks that became the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Claude T. Bissell Building wound up forgotten. That is, until now.

Robarts in the fall  Photo by Jeremy Gilbert from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Robarts in the fall. Photo by Jeremy Gilbert from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

That third building was originally planned to house a 500-capacity classroom when the building first went up over 40 years ago. It will now be a study commons aimed to accommodate some 1,200 book learners at any given time.

Larry Alford, chief librarian at the university, told the Varsity newspaper earlier this year that the main reason for the extension is that the student population has outgrown the less than 5,000 currently existing study spaces in the library.

An estimated 18,000 students visit Robarts each day, which almost doubles the traffic seen by the library 35 years ago.

Construction is set to begin in early 2016, and the new building is expected to be open to students sometime in the 2017-2018 school year.

CORRECTION: April 17, 10:47 AM An earlier version of this article neglected to include citation of Yonge Street‘s reporting, which has since been amended.

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