Toronto Reference Library – the Moriyama Experience
Father and son architects, Raymond and Ajon Moriyama, were together at the Toronto Reference Library on September 4 as part of a Royal Ontario Museum architectural tour. They talked about their experiences designing and revitalizing the library.
Raymond Moriyama described the library as one of his most challenging projects when he designed it in 1973. They had to look at 43 sites before they found this central location near Yonge and Bloor. The original design of the library was a glass box – he was ahead of his time.
Raymond spent a lot of energy trying to
convince City Council to accept the design but it was rejected and the
library was redesigned with its red brick exterior. Read the story in Unbuilt Toronto 2 by
Ajon Moriyama referred to the opening of the Toronto Reference Library in 1977 as a “magical” moment for him as a 10 year old who saw his father on the stage talking about the library atrium as an empty cup, a container to be filled with knowledge. It made him decide to be an architect.
Twenty-two years later, in 1999, Ajon started the redesign of the library to create a more engaging space, with the flexibility to accommodate future technology and enabling the library to keep up with the changing needs of its users. Renovations have been ongoing since 2001 with the addition of the Digital Design Studio, the Information Commons, the Toronto Star Newspaper Room, the Computer Terrace, the Atrium Stage, the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, culminating last year with the new Entrance Cube, inspired by the original design and creating a welcoming street presence for the library. The revamped TD Gallery, the expanded Browsery and a new Café, Balzac's, also opened this year.