Following a ground breaking ceremony held this past summer, construction is underway for a significant renovation and expansion of Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. The iconic 1972 example of Brutalist design by architects Mathers and Haldenby is being expanded with a 4,304 m² Diamond Schmitt Architects-designed addition rising 5 storeys along the west side of the building, to be known as Robarts Common upon its completion in Fall 2019.

Robarts Library, Robarts Common, Diamond Schmitt, University of TorontoRobarts Library, image by Craig White

Robarts Common's design features a main volume clad in fritted curtainwall glazing, buffered from the existing concrete exterior by a narrower—yet slightly taller—volume clad in interlocking aluminum panels. The buffering volume is designed to complement the existing structure's materiality without competing. To be completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester, the project will increase the number of study spaces at Robarts by 25%, taking the total to 6,000. 

Robarts Library, Robarts Common, Diamond Schmitt, University of TorontoNew public space coming to Robarts Library, image courtesy of the University of Toronto

The 1,200 new study spaces—in rooms based with natural light—will be complemented by an enhancement of the site's public realm, adding a new outdoor plaza and park to the south of the building, fronting the lively corner of Harbord and Huron streets. The new public space will add outdoor seating to the intersection, while preserving a collection of blossoming cherry trees known for drawing crowds every spring.

Robarts Library, Robarts Common, Diamond Schmitt, University of TorontoRobarts Library and Robarts Common, image courtesy of the University of Toronto

Before the addition rises from the library's Huron Street frontage, crews must prepare the addition's footprint for the start of shoring activity. To accommodate shoring work, a temporary ramp will be built linking Huron Street to the north side of the construction site, which will be used to move construction machinery on and off site. Shoring is expected to begin once this temporary ramp is operational.

Robarts Library, Robarts Common, Diamond Schmitt, University of TorontoSite activity underway for Robarts Common, image by Craig White

We will keep you updated as construction progresses over the coming months. In the meantime, be sure to check out our database file with more detailed renderings and related stories, linked below. Join the discussion in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.