This year's Doors Open Toronto is set to be one unlike any so far, celebrating the 150 years of Canadian history and the growth of Toronto over time. The venues are diverse and spread across the city, ensuring that there is something to see and experience for everyone of all ages and interests.

The weekend of exploration will begin following the special Friday evening kickoff keynote event—hosted by Great Gulf/First Gulf at the future site of East Harbour. As we reported last week, this year's event will have not only venues for exploration (some with timed tours), but musical performances, walking tours, lectures, and other enhanced experiences as well.

With 150 buildings open, there will be something to excite everyone, but today we are highlighting a number of the buildings that are sure-fire bets, for one reason or another. Some of these buildings are on the tour for the first time, some for the last time, some are classics that if you've never been in, it's time you visited.

The banner for this year's Doors Open Toronto, image courtesy of Doors OpenThe banner for this year's Doors Open Toronto, image courtesy of Doors Open

Financial Core

Commerce Court North, TorontoCommerce Court North, image by Jack Landau

Commerce Court North

Doors Open will give visitors access into Commerce Court North, through a series of self-guided tours through the site, and a pop-up museum celebrating 150 years of CIBC (coinciding with the 150th Anniversary of Canada and Ontario). CIBC's Archives Department and the Property Management team will also be on hand for visitors to learn more. One of the iconic chandeliers hanging from the vaulted gold ceiling will also be lowered for the first time ever, giving visitors the chance to get up close to these historic fixtures. 

Design Exchange 

Once the home of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Design Exchange now inhabits the space. As a non-profit organization dedicated to growth and exploration of the design disciplines, the design exchange has become a hub within the design and arts community of Toronto and to an extent—Canada. Open on both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to explore the original TSX Trading Floor and original art-deco murals and permanent collection showcasing Canadian Design housed in the open storage. Musical performances as part of the special programs will also take place and will definitely be worth checking out. 

Massey Hall

New to Doors Open Toronto this year, the famous venue has hosted a long list of historic performances throughout its lifetime, beginning in 1894. Hosting everything from musical performances to political rallies, Massey hall has become a centre of artistic and civic activity in the community. On Sunday, visitors will get the opportunity to explore documents and artifacts tracing nearly 125 years of history and take a picture of them on stage with their solo microphone and get a free souvenir photo.

Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

Another typically restricted performance venue, the iconic Sony Centre for the Performing arts will be open on Saturday and Sunday, hosting a number of events. A multi-media exhibit documenting the life of the centre will be on display, as well as photographs and artifacts from the centre's archives and activities for families to engage in. Guided tours throughout the centre in areas that are typically restricted to the public will be available, including the always interesting stage and backstage areas. 

St. Lawrence Hall 

Constructed in 1850 as the first social and cultural centre for the still young City of Toronto, St. Lawrence Hall has since been designated a national historic site and evolved from its original purpose or serving the social elite, now hosting social gatherings, meetings, rallies, and recitals. On both Saturday and Sunday visitors will be able to explore the famous great hall, and enjoy history talks and activities showcasing the history and life of the building. 

City Hall Area

Toronto City Hall, Viljo Revell, TorontoAerial view of Nathan Phillips Square and City Hall, image by Marcus Mitanis

Toronto City Hall 

Always a popular Doors Open venue, the Toronto City Hall will give visitors a look into the Mayor's Office, Council Chambers, 27th Floor Observation Deck, and Green Roof. A number of event programs will also be occurring including screenings of various films from the National Film Board, an exhibition of 'temporary structures highlighting contemporary living in Toronto', a photography exhibit showcasing the ever changing Toronto city landscape, and activities for children to 'become urban planners'. City Hall will be open on both Saturday and Sunday and will likely be one of the most popular destinations. 

Old City Hall 

The iconic Romanesque revival building, now houses provincial and city courts and has only been accessible to a select few, while the general public can only enter a few metres before being checked or stopped by security. Doors Open will give the public the rare chance to enter historic city hall through organized and self-guided tours. The grand staircase and courtroom 121 (formerly the council chamber) will be open for the public and give visitors a glimpse into the life of a civic courthouse.  

Osgoode Hall

As home to the Law Society of Upper Canada and the highest courts in Ontario, Osgoode Hall is typically closed to the public—for good reason. However, on both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will get the rare opportunity to enter on self-guided tours with the aid of volunteers through the courtrooms, library, convocation hall, and Osgoode Hall restaurant. Visitors will also be able play the role of the judge for a while by trying on the legal robes in the court rooms for a picture. 

Canada Life

The early 20th century beaux-arts style building, home to the famous weather beacon and a typically closed off 17th floor tower observation room, will once again take part in Doors Open. On both Saturday and Sunday self-guided tours, archival displays, a short film, and the open tower observation room will give the public the rare opportunity to enter this icon on University Avenue.  

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, Sick Kids Hospital, TorontoNight view of The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, image by Forum contributor interchange42

The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning 

The recently completed research facility, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, is part of the SickKids Hospital complex and is a hub of research and innovation in pediatrics. Housing numerous labs which support SickKids' seven core research programs, the building features a central core visible from the exterior which encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation outside of the lab environment. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to take part in interactive science demonstrations, meet with SickKids researchers who will showcase their work, and engage in demos which display the endeavours of the facility. The activities and tours are kid focused yet very informative, and the 19th floor will be open for an impressive atrium view of the city and the collaboration spaces (note that the tours are on a first-come first-served basis). 

Downtown Churches

Church of the Holy Trinity • St. Andrew's Church • St. George's Greek Orthodox Church • St. James Cathedral •  St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica 

St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica, TorontoSt. Michael's Cathedral Basilica, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

Downtown Toronto is home to several historic and impressive churches. Within walking distance of each other, these buildings are a reminder of a time when their steeples made up the tallest points on Toronto's skyline.

Four of the five churches are open both Saturday and Sunday. St. Andrew's Church offers organized guided tours, St. James Cathedral will feature self-guided and guided tours as well as an opportunity to visit the cathedral tower to learn about the bells, St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica will be open for exploration throughout the building with partial access to the lower level crypt chapel, and St.George's Greek Orthodox church will allow visitors to explore historical books and virtual tours, a photobook depicting the church's over 100 year history, and a bake sale featuring Greek pastries and desserts.

On Saturday, the Church of the Holy Trinity will feature an actor portraying the original Reverend Dr. Henry Scadding, providing information on the church and neighbourhood's evolution, an organ demonstration, and choral performances. 

Downtown East

The Cooper Koo YMCA, MJMA Architects, TorontoThe Cooper Koo YMCA, image by Stefan Novakovic

Cooper Koo Family YMCA 

As part of the new West Don Lands Neighbourhood, the Cooper Koo Family YMCA has since become a hub of the young community since its opening in Spring of 2016. It was previously host to the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Athletes of the 2015 games and has since transformed to serve the community. While the centre is a highly accessible one, Doors Open at the Cooper Koo Family YMCA will feature special family programming and free classes within the centre and on the 30,000 sq. ft. green roof. Activities such as family gym time, family play time, music & movement, green roof yoga, green roof cardio box and others will take place as well as scheduled tours throughout the day. 

Stone Distillery Building 

Pleasing to look at, but normally relatively inaccessible to the public, the largest and oldest surviving building in the historic Distillery District will be open on Sunday for the public into a glimpse of Toronto's past. Guided tours will focus on the history and process of distilling spirits and showcase the architecture of the Stone Distillery Building and its ever changing transformation. Tours will also allow access through typically closed doors to see industrial and historical artifacts. 

Evergreen Brickworks

New to Doors Open Toronto this year is the community staple of Evergreen Brick Works, consisting of 16 different buildings with some dating back to 1889, and with the site hosting a multitude of buildings showcasing green technologies and innovations—appropriately set within the Don Valley. Events through Saturday and Sunday include tours from architects, urban planners, and place makers, activities which allow guests to explore and interact with historic structures among the valley, and hands-on activities throughout the site (including making your own bricks). For those looking to explore outside the itinerary, the surrounding trails and parks are great places to explore.

Downtown West

Daniels Building, NADAAA, John H. Daniels Faculty, TorontoThe historic facade of the Daniels building, image by Jack Landau

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (1 Spadina Crescent) 

One of the most highly anticipated buildings among city builders and designers a like is the brand new NADAAA-designed Daniels Faculty Building. As a half renovation/half new development, the renewed 1 Spadina Cr marks the faculty's move from their old home at 230 College and signals the change the faculty is undergoing. Set to fully open for the Fall 2017 semester, visitors during Doors Open will be get a glimpse into the new school and the unique spaces it has to offer. Self-guided tours will take visitors though the old heritage building, contemporary additions, and the unique undergraduate and graduate studio spaces. Students, faculty and staff will also be available to provide information on their new home on Saturday and Sunday.

QRC West 

AlliedREIT's Sweeny &Co-designed Queen Richmond Centre will be open to the public, showcasing the building's unique integration of old and new. Guided tours will be led by the Management Team and Architects throughout the building's amenities and tenant spaces. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the historic facade and the new 70 foot delta frames that make up 80% of the building's structural capacity. The tours throughout the unique and diverse tenant spaces are set to be very informative as they are led by the designers and tenant themselves, giving insight into the creative office spaces that characterize the west-end of downtown.

Waterworks Building

Currently sitting on the site of the historic St. Andrew's Market, the 1930's Waterworks building features unique elements such as original metal windows, steel lattice structure, elegant stonework, and gabled skylights. In the coming years it will return to its original purpose of serving the community as it transforms into a community hub once again featuring a European-style food hall, YMCA, retail, and residences. On Saturday and Sunday, Visitors will be able to explore the typically closed off great hall and all the details it has to offer as well as get a glimpse into the future redevelopment with staff on hand to answer any questions concerning the project. 

Central Waterfront

Fork York Visitor Centre, Patkau Architects, Kearns Mancini Architects, TorontoFort York Visitor Centre, image by Forum contributor plink

Fort York

The historic site was one of the first colonial establishments in Toronto, starting in 1793, it was one of the first establishments which secured Toronto's status as an important node in the region. After playing a crucial role in the war of 1812, Fort York as it stands today is the rebuilt remains of what was once an important part of Toronto's everyday life. On Saturday and Sunday, regular guided tours will allow visitors to tour and experience the military architecture featuring the barracks and fortifications. Live recreation cooking demonstrations in the historic 1826 kitchen, and the visitors centre featuring exhibits about the site will also be open for discovery.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport 

A typically restricted space to the general public, the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will be open Satruday to showcase photography and historical artifacts exhibits celebrating the history of the airport and the role is has played in Toronto and Canada's history. An open fire hall and maintenance facility will give visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn more about the airport's behind the scene's operations such as the many safety vehicles, wildlife management program, and Ornge air ambulance facilities. 

Redpath Sugar

An iconic factory on Toronto's waterfront and one of the last remaining industrial sites along Queens Quay, Redpath Sugar is now a landmark along Toronto's waterfront, even inspiring the famous Sugar Beach. On Saturday and Sunday, interactive exhibits and displays from all different points in the sugar refinery process will be open for visitors to learn. The Redpath Sugar Museum and Sugar transport vehicles will also be open to explore, while a rare glimpse into the raw sugar shed will be available. 

Etobicoke Lakefront 

Humber College Student Welcome & Resource Centre, Moriyama and Teshima ArchitectHumber College Student Welcome & Resource Centre, image courtesy of Scott Norsworthy (for Canadian Architect)

Situated along Etobicoke's waterfront, Humber College offers several building to explore.

Humber College Student Welcome and Resource Centre 

The Moriyama and Teshima Architects designed Humber College Student Welcome and Resource Centre completed last year will be open for the public, showcasing its history and programming. Guided tours will take visitors throughout the various spaces, detailing the construction of the building. Tour spaces can be reserved through their website ( and the nearby Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre will also be available for exploration. 

Assembly Hall 

Today's assembly hall is a mix of the original 1898 brick building and a 2001 addition by renowned Teeple Architects of Toronto. It houses Humber College's premier assembly hall for music, theatre, dance, receptions and special events as well as community spaces and gallery spaces. On Sunday visitors will be able to enjoy exhibitions, gallery displays, numerous artist talks, activities, and a reception from 2 PM to 4 PM. 

Humber Historic Tunnels Tour 

As part of the historic Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, the ten building complex now covered for College use is connected by a tunnel system that runs throughout the entire site. Typically closed to the public, the tunnels will be open through a series of informative tours (Register at on both Saturday and Sunday. The tours will highlight the development of psychiatric care and mental health research over the decades, and the role the hospital staff and patients played in all of this. 

Humber Centre for Entrepreneurship 

The recently refurbished Humber Centre for Entrepreneurship was once the administration building of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, and today is now plays a different yet just as crucial role in the campus. Home to flexible meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, and an event space, the Centre for Entrepreneurship is now a site which fosters collaboration between students, faculty, and professionals. Tours on Saturday and Sunday will teach about the history of the building and site, and the operation occurring today and its impact on the community (register at 


TTC Downsview Park Station 

A highly anticipated Doors Open venue for the UrbanToronto community, the Downsview Park Station as part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension is set to give the public a glimpse into the future subway expansion, and its integration with GO Rail. We gave a short preview of what is to come in our last update, but the experience in person is sure to be much more informative and engaging. While only open on Saturday, the self-guided tours as well as project staff and artists will be on hand to answer any questions concerning the site. Shuttle busses will depart from Sheppard West station for ease of access.

York University Subway Station, Foster and Partners, TTC, Toronto York University Subway Station, image by forum contributor agoraflaneur

TTC York University Station 

Also on the shuttle bus route is the Foster & Partners-designed York University Station, giving a behind-the-scenes preview before its December 2017 opening. Although we have shown you some of the station in our recent update, you will finally be able to experience the future hub through self-guided tours and learn more about the project from project staff and the artists tasked with enriching the station spaces. Like Downsview Park Station, York U Station is only open on Saturday. 

Archives of Ontario, B+H Architects, York University, TorontoArchives of Ontario, image courtesy of York University

Archives of Ontario 

This building located in York University's Keele Campus beside the new York U Station, is home to Canada's second oldest archival records dating back to the late 16th century, with everything from hand-written ledgers to photographs and films. Open on Saturday Only, the archives will be host to behind-the-scenes unscheduled tours of their various facilities and exhibits as well as interactive learning activities for kids and adults. Some of the collections showcasing the 150 years of Ontario's history as well as Toronto's History will also be on display. 

Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence 

The recently completed Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence has since become a hub of activity in York University, with its unique exterior, study spaces, and layouts, it has begun to foster a new culture of learning in the engineering faculty. The Centre will be open on both Saturday and Sunday where visitors will have the opportunity to go on a tour led by student guides and engage in hands-on engineering activities. The Bergeron Centre would be another great stop for those visiting the nearby TTC York University Station. 

Aviva Centre, image courtesy of Aviva CentreAviva Centre, image courtesy of Aviva Centre

Aviva Centre 

As home to the prestigious Rogers Cup, and a regular year-round training ground for some of Canada's best tennis players. Open on both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will get the opportunity to take part in fun activities across the whole site, and play games on the famous centre court (equipment provided). Tennis fans will also enjoy the chance to take a picture with the Rogers Cup itself. Also located on the York University's Keele Campus, the Aviva centre would be a great destination for those visiting surrounding venues. 

Black Creek Pioneer Village

This historic Black Creek Pioneer Village is a symbol of Toronto's past, a relic which gives visitors a chance to travel back in time to the settlements of Southern Ontario in the 18th and 19th century. Historical interpreters will give visitors the chance to see traditional trades and crafts as they were done more than 150 years ago, as well as explore the farmyard animals, heritage garden, and historic gallery. Open on both Saturday and Sunday as well, the Black Creek Pioneer village is adjacent to the York University Keele Campus and will be a great way to finish of a visit to the area. 

North York City Centre

Toronto Centre for the Arts

Home to world-class productions and performances, the Zeidler designed Toronto Centre for the Arts features a number of spaces dedicated to the performing arts. The largest of the spaces was recently rebuilt as two spectacularly lit new theatres by Diamond Schmitt Architects. Open on Saturday only, guided walking tours will take place, allowing guests to learn more about the unique centre, live rehearsals, music, and artwork will be available for the public to see, catching a glimpse into the world of performing arts. 

Don Mills

Aga Khan Museum, Fumihiko Maki and Associates, Toronto Aga Khan Museum, image by forum contributor interchange42

Aga Khan Museum Ismaili Centre Toronto

The stunning contemporary museum designed by world renowned architect Fumihiko Maki will host the public through a series of activities within the museum itself and the surrounding courtyards and formal gardens. As a gem in Toronto's landscape—with white Brazilian Granite, a naturally illuminated interior courtyard and extensive permanent collection (still restricted to paid guests during Doors Open)— the museum will surely be an excellent host to Doors Open. The neighbouring Ismaili Centre, with its spectacular contemporary prayer hall and foyer spaces designed by Charles Correa, will also be available to explore through self guided tours, while photo and filming will be permitted in all spaces except the prayer hall. Events spanning Saturday and Sunday in the Aga Khan Museum include family activities taking place in the education centre, non-scheduled tours throughout the spaces, and pop-up performances in a number of different spaces. 


University of Toronto Scarborough - Andrew's Building 

An icon of modern Canadian Architecture, the brutalist Andrew's building draws its inspiration from the power and carved nature of the adjacent Highland Creek Valley. Designed in the postmodern tradition of megastructures, the interior acts a city on its own, with corridors wide and narrow and spaces small and grand fostering social activity at all scales. On Saturday, visitors will get the opportunity to explore the unique building on guided tours led by students from the University of Toronto's John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. It's proximity to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre makes that the next great stop on the local tour. 

Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, Norr Ltd., University of Toronto, TorontoThe Toronto Pan Am Sport Centre's exterior, image courtesy of The University of Toronto Scarborough

Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre 

A legacy building from the Toronto 2015 Pan and Para Pan Am Games converted for public use, the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre features many amenities for the community and U of T Scarborough students to enjoy, serving as a hub of activity for everyone including some of Canada and the World's best athletes. Elite athlete or not, visitors will be able to take guided tours that showcase environmental accessibility features, the spaces which are home to several national amateur sports organizations, the Canadian Sports Institute Ontario, and the home to the U of T Scarborough and Parks, Forestry and Recreation programs. 

Scarborough Civic Centre Branch, Toronto Public Library 

Another recent build is a popular destination year-round, serving as a community hub, the Scarborough Civic Centre Branch will be open for guided tours or self exploration. 3D Printing and innovative technologies will be showcased in the Digital Innovation Hub, and the green roof will be open for wandering—letting visitors investigate the plant life. Open on Saturday and Sunday, there will be a sure to be exciting Birds of Prey presentation on Saturday and numerous activities throughout the weekend for children and adults alike. 


For more information, maps and schedules for this year's event, visit the official website. Finally, once Doors Open has come and gone for another year, we hope you'll post some of your photos in our dedicated Forum thread.