Grand Designs: Toronto's City Halls

August 28, 2015 | Cynthia

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See the full website:
A Grand Design: the Toronto City Hall Design Competition
Modernist architectural drawings & models submitted from forty-two countries.


City Hall and Square 1967Take a look at these pictures. 

When we think of Toronto's City Hall, we are willing to gamble that most Torontonians would pick the picture on the left - still referred to as The "New City Hall". And that is our fourth City Hall.

The municipal governments of the past sat in a few locations around Toronto's downtown. What we call "Old City Hall" is actually our third City Hall.

When Toronto was incorporated as a city in 1834, the early City Council met in rented facilities at the southwest corner of King and Jarvis.

City Hall 1800sIn 1845, a permanent City Hall opened on the south side of Front Street, familiar to us as the St. Lawrence Market area.


Old City HallEdward James Lennox designed the impressive Old City Hall that acted as a City Hall and Court House. It opened September 18, 1899.



Post-war Toronto was booming in the 1950's and outgrowing its third City Hall. People were looking for change - something new, something different, something distinctive. The idea for a City Hall Design Competition was brewing.


Viljo Revell's unique and striking design for Toronto's "New City Hall" was chosen in an international competition held in 1958 that attracted over 500 entrants from 42 countries, and put Toronto at the centre of a major discussion of Modernist architecture.

City Hall Model 1958

And this September we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the "New City Hall".  

City Hall Lecture Poster


The Toronto Reference Library is marking the occasion with the launch of a new website (coming soon) with images of the models and plans from the 1958 competition, co-sponsoring a series of lectures in City Hall Council Chambers, participating in a special day of festivities at City Hall on Sunday, September 13th and publishing a series of blogs to honour the anniversary.

Come to the Reference Library's Toronto Collection on the second floor for more on Toronto Architecture and Toronto's City Halls. 

NOTE : The Lecture Series will be held at the New City Hall in the Council Chamber. The first lecture is on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 7pm.