With over 2,000 new and under construction condominium units coming to the blocks surrounding the Don Mills and Sheppard intersection—like at Elad Canada's Emerald City and Biyu Condos, and at Fram's Allenbury Gardens redevelopment—the need for added community space is already being addressed in the area. While the new Forest Parkway Community Centre, under construction just southwest of Don Mills Station, is still several months away from opening at the time this is being written, residents of the area were delighted to reclaim their local library today as the Fairview Community Toronto Public Library officially reopened to the public.

The library originally opened in 1976, designed in the brutalist style prevalent at the time by Brook-Carruthers-Shaw Architects. The facility soon needed modifications to handle more people and expanded programming, and saw renovations from 1989-1994 and then again in 1998 and 2005. By the end of the 2010s, the 4-storey building was once again in need of revitalization and on October 6th 2012, the library and attached community theatre were closed for modernization.  

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryFairview Branch Library, image by Jack Landau

Today the public got its first look inside the Makrimichalos Cugini Architects-led redesign, which features improved accessibility, a substantial increase in natural light, outdoor reading areas, streetscape upgrades and much more.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryInside the revitalized library, image by Jack Landau

A new glazed section wraps around the northeast corner of the building flanked by dedicated accessible entrances for both the library and theatre. The exterior curtain wall has been replaced with triple-glazed units along the north and west sides of the building, reducing energy needs fort the future.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryFairview Branch Library, image by Jack Landau

Renovations on the attached Fairview Library Theatre were undertaken during the same timeframe, but were completed a few months prior, with the theatre’s doors reopening this past September.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryTheatre sign on the building's exterior, image by Jack Landau

The revitalized theatre now boasts a new lobby with a box office and refreshment stand, rejuvenated washrooms, dedicated backstage areas including a green room, new theatre handrails and improved lighting.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryBackstage green room with makeup table and lighting, image by Jack Landau

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryTheatre viewed from the top row of seating, image by Jack Landau

In addition to aesthetic, accessibility and other similar upgrades, the renovations also improve the experience for library staff with the help of some pretty neat technology. As one of Toronto’s busiest public libraries, Fairview Branch checks out a lot of books – books which eventually get checked back in of course. Fairview's upgrade includes a new automated returns system now being used at other busy locations. 

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryAutomated returns desk, image by Jack Landau

The system is pretty simple. Use the touchscreen interface, a door opens revealing a green-lit conveyor belt, insert books, magazines, movies or any other borrowed material, light turns red, door closes, receipt is printed. 

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryAutomated returns desk, image by Jack Landau

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryAutomated returns desk, image by Jack Landau

We are all used to using automated machines for various services, whether it is an ATM machine, a vending machine or even a video rental machine (do those still exist?) – but it is what happens on the other side of those automated metal doors that is truly – for lack of a better word – cool.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibrarySorting machine, image by Jack Landau

No “I Love Lucy” conveyor belt mayhem is happening behind these doors, just a sleek automated machine made up of rollers and conveyor belts. The machine scans barcodes on the exterior of the book/movie/magazine and the rollers direct it to the correct bin. The bins are then loaded via hand-powered forklift and carted off to their respective shelves, and in some cases, other libraries.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryClose up of rollers on sorting machine, image by Jack Landau

A second phase of the library revitalization will be undertaken in the near future, focusing on the third and fourth floors of the building. The upper floors of the library have seen minor upgrades during the revitalization, but the bulk of this section has been unchanged since the three-phase revitalization project carried out from 1989-1994.

Fairview Branch Library, Makrimichalos Cugini Architects, Toronto Public LibraryThird floor of library, image by Jack Landau

With the theatre and library now both re-opened to the public, staff are expecting a busy week as residents of the Don Mills and Sheppard neighbourhood continue to reconnect with their freshly revitalized community hub!

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