The Don Valley Parkway has served as the entrance to the downtown core for countless residents and commuters alike, a drive that is loved for its views as much as it is despised for its gridlock. Memories of watching the CN Tower rise and fall amidst the lush valley defined the drive into the downtown core after long weekends at the cottage, a glimpse of the fast-paced city that awaits. While sporadic condominium and apartment towers have popped up alongside the valley, none standout quite like the Aga Khan Museum + Ismaili Centre, currently under construction just north of Eglinton and the DVP. The buildings’ unique rooflines and proximity to the parkway make-up for their relatively short stature compared to the nearby towers, and although they’re still very much under construction, they nonetheless warrant your attention as you drive - or crawl, depending on time of day - along the parkway.
The Aga Khan Museum is a project by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The current Aga Khan has undertaken to build a variety of cultural venues across the world, this museum dedicated to preserving Islamic art and heritage. Designed by Fumihiko Maki, the building is simple in design, a rectilinear structure surrounding a central courtyard.
An extensively landscaped garden will separate the museum from the striking Ismaili Centre, designed by Charles Correa with Moriyama + Teshima Architects. The building’s crystalline dome demarcates the prayer hall below, the most private space in the complex that is simultaneously the most visible from the exterior. Both the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum share common design elements that bind the structures, where strength and solidity are expressed through simple forms and material similarity. While the Ismaili Centre is no doubt the more elaborate of the two, it has yet to overshadow the museum, evidencing the cooperation and mutual respect shared between all architectural parties involved.
The Aga Khan Museum + Ismaili Centre are set to open in 2013. The buildings will serve both educational and cultural purposes for the larger community, drawing tourists and locals alike with a one-of-a-kind collection and standout architecture. The next time your stuck on the DVP be sure to check out the development; if you want the latest updates head over to the dataBase listing below or the associated project forum.