This year the Royal Ontario Museum is celebrating its centennial. As part of the celebration, the ROM held an event this morning announcing several legacy projects to carry the museum into its next century. The first among them is the Welcome Project, a plan to re-imagine the museum's main entrance on Bloor Street West with an upgraded lobby and public plaza.

While work on the design of the new lobby has yet to begin, preliminary renderings of the new plaza and public realm were made available. The plaza, which is being designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects and landscape architects Claude Cormier + Associés, will extend along the length of Bloor Street West from the corner at Bloor and Queen's Park all the way to Philosopher's Walk.

Welcome Project plaza and public realmWelcome Project plaza and public realm looking southeast, rendering courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

Though the addition of the Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal in 2007 was a grand gesture, the plaza welcoming visitors to the bold structure was comparatively underwhelming. This project aims to change change that. The concept behind the new plaza is to create an "outside gallery" for the museum. It is the ROM's hope that by taking its programming outside into the city, it will entice visitors into the museum. It will include landscaping, a live performance space in the form of a small amphitheatre, and urban green space in the form of a biodiversity garden. The amphitheatre will allow for live performances of music, dance and theatre right on Bloor Street West. The ROM anticipates that the performance space will allow it to partner with cultural and artistic institutions and organizations from the local community.

Welcome Project plaza and public realmWelcome Project plaza and public realm looking southwest, rendering courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

As part of the announcement, the ROM also launched the "Love the ROM" campaign in order to finance the Welcome Project and other legacy projects. The campaign aims to raise $15 million by June 2015. As major contributors to the campaign, Helga and (the late) Mike Schmidt of ABC Group Inc. will have the amphitheatre named in their honour.

Though the major components of the design, such as the inclusion of the amphitheatre, are set, many details of the design have yet to be worked out, as the project is pending consultations. Stay tuned with UrbanToronto for updates as they come!

For more information and renderings of this project, click on our dataBase link below. Want to talk about the project? Click on the associated forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page. For further information on the ROM Centennial legacy projects, visit the Love the ROM campaign website here.

Rami Kozman is a commercial real estate lawyer in Toronto and can be found on Twitter at twitter.com/ramikozman.