Buildings - Award
Eatonville Public Library
Address: 420 Burnhamthorpe Rd.
Architect/Urban Designer: Teeple Architects Inc.
Landscape Architect: Gunta Mackars
Owner/Developer: City of Toronto
The building is very impressive in its play on three-dimensional forms and composition of materials. It defines an important new urban statement in a suburban context. But, like many urban interventions, this project is frustrating for its lack of resources and commitment to the ground plan, the site and the landscape.
Architecturally ambitious and striking especially as approached from the various highway-like streets which surround it. An impressive attempt to aggrandize a modestly-sized public facility which otherwise would be lost amidst it suburban strip neighbours. While powerful from a distance, the impression diminished somewhat right at the building site due to the paltry treatment of the landscape. One or two fewer formal architectural complexities might have retained a bit more budget for the landscape - a point which architects of public buildings with limited budgets ought to consider, especially in a suburban neighbourhood setting.
Addressing a major highway and a busy suburban intersection, this building responds with a bold, curving zinc-clad façade. By contrast, the other elevations read much smaller in scale and are constructed of stone and glass. All of the sculptural articulation on the exterior creates intimate places and surprising lighting conditions on the interior. It's a wonderful library, but also a great piece of contemporary urban architecture.
I'm told that about 16 million people in Toronto visit the City's public libraries annually and that we check out more books than any other library system in North America. This library is a talking book that has something important to say about the making of civic architecture on the urban fringes of Toronto. Its sweeping horizontal band is architecture talking back to the highway traffic zipping along next to it. There's a careful dynamic of textures - the random horizontal coursing of the Wiarton stone, the black brick and the perforated aluminum that hides the mechanical systems from full view. I think that visitors feel immediately welcomed by this neighbourhood library. There are angled fins that jut out from the brick wall - that's where you can find the reading carrels.