Doors Open is an annual free event developed by the City of Toronto that gives people the opportunity to be nosey and snoop around the beautiful buildings of Toronto. The various participating buildings of architectural, historical, cultural and social significance are usually out of bounds to the public.
This year’s 15th Doors Open Toronto was held on 24-25th May and with 155 buildings taking part you would have been hard pressed to find one that didn’t capture your imagination. I was determined to see at least 10 buildings on Sunday 25th, but after spending almost 2 hours in the first building because it was so darn interesting, it soon became apparent that 10 buildings was nigh impossible.
The first stop was the Foundery Buildings, which serve as a creative hub giving indivuals the opportunity to rent out work space on a sporadic basis. It allows members 24 hours access and is home to local entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators.
As someone who who finds working from home a job in itself (distractions), renting innovative work spaces is likely to be a god send to freelancers, artists and designers. The creativity and impromptu meetings that are probably shared between all the innovators must makes the Foundery an incredible place to work in.
The Legislation Building is situated at the northernmost part of University Avenue with Queens Park Crescent meandering around it. The Legislation Building certainly rules the landscape with its regal design and sheer size.
Inside it reminded me somewhat of the stateley homes I would visit in the UK. The lovely staff were always on hand to answer any questions we had and there was a lot to be learnt about the structure and roles of the various members of parliament that work day in, day out in this beautiful building.
Style: Revival (1800-Early 1900)
Original Architect: Richard A. Waite
Subsequent Architect(s)/Consultant(s):E.J. Lennox, George W. Gouinlock
3. Spadina House
Without a doubt, the highlight for me was Spadina House. Well not so much the house in fact but the surrounding gardens. The blazing sun and the descending blosoms from the trees that danced around you were always going to be hard to beat.
The house itself also had a lot of character. Built by Toronto financier James Austin and his wife, Susan, in 1866, Spadina Museum was home to 3 generations of the Austin family until 1982.
Style: Revival (1800-Early 1900)
Original Architect: Unknown
Subsequent Architect(s)/Consultant(s):1896 two storey addition by Vaux Chadwick; 1905, 1909 and 1912 additions
4. High Level Pumping
Finding High Level Pumping proved a little tricky but once inside we were greeted by large metal structures that reminded me of scenes from the Titanic. The bulky heavy structures in the light, large, open space was a nice juxtaposition.
Built in 1906, the building remains to play a significant role in supplying safe drinking water to parts of Toronto. While Torontonians now rely on Lake Ontario for their tap water, the station’s core function of pumping water to higher elevations in Toronto remains unchanged after more than a century.
This one was the hardest to find by a country mile, not helped by Google Maps leading us astray. We got there with 5 minutes to spare before last entry and I’m sure glad we did. Another highlight of the day, mainly due to the contents and shape of the building resembling something that had jumped out of my imagination as a child. The place I always dreamed I would work as an adult.
Safely hidden away on bpNichol Lane since 1967, Coach House has become one of Canada’s best independent publishers and printing presses. The amount of nooks and crannies in this creepy, cobwebbed beauty left me in awe and truly inspired.