Make sure you’ve got your camera ready this weekend—on May 26 and 27, the annual Doors Open event offers an extraordinary chance to explore some of Toronto’s most interesting buildings (some of which are rarely open to the public), learn about the city’s history, and get some amazing photos while you’re at it! More than 135 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant sites welcome visitors this weekend; if you have time to see only a few of them, here are 5 that definitely caught our interest.
401 Richmond Street West
This circa-1899 industrial building has become a hive of artistic activity in the downtown core. Dozens of creative businesses—from art galleries and theatre groups to media companies and non-profit organizations—now call the fantastically restored site home.
A highlight is the huge green roof and courtyard garden, both vibrantly a-bloom!
The headquarters of the Corus Entertainment broadcasting company is an anchor for the ongoing revitalization of the city’s western waterfront. Designed by Toronto firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the building represents what a vibrant modern workspace can be. Its atrium is a major draw, what with its five-storey living wall and twisting three-storey slide. (Yes, it has a slide.) Befitting Corus’s mandate, performances and appearances by its television and radio personalities are also scheduled.
De La Salle College “Oaklands”
A new participant in the Doors Open experience is this Catholic school, which is celebrating the 160th year of its founding. Situated on a beautiful tree-lined property in Midtown, the campus’s main attraction is a lovely Edwardian mansion—barely visible from Avenue Road, it’s truly one of Toronto’s hidden architectural gems.
Fort York National Historic Site
Commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 by visiting the place where modern Toronto began. Built in 1793, the fort was originally a naval base (the land the now exists south of the site is almost entirely man-made), and was actually occupied by American forces for six days in 1813. Today it features a number of buildings from that era, and offers tours, demonstrations of historic cooking, and more.
R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant
You may wonder how a water treatment facility could possibly be worth your interest. Trust us—visit this building at the east end of The Beach neighbourhood. Immortalized in Michael Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a Lion, the plant is a stunning example of Art Deco design, inside and out, and a testament to the important role that civil engineering plays in the functioning of our vast metropolis.