The University of Toronto's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics is in the early planning stages for a new Astronomy Building, likely to be built on the northwest corner of St. George and Russell streets on the site of the current building, and, it was recently announced, the department would like to build a new planetarium as part of it.

//www.astro.utoronto.ca/about/newtorontoplanetarium/Image from http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/about/newtorontoplanetarium/

The vision is for a 200-seat planetarium which would be used by both U of T students and the general public, making use of cutting-edge digital projection system accurately present the cosmos, and educating while entertaining tens of thousands of anticipated visitors per year. The department notes that modern planetariums "are used for far more than astronomy, from visualizing climate data to exploring the interior of the human brain. The new U of T Planetarium will be accessible to scientists, engineers, artists, and indigenous leaders to pursue research, educational, and cultural activities."

University of Toronto, planetarium, 50 St. George, TorontoSite of existing Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics building at 50 St. George, image via Google Maps

The department wants a "world-class" facility with distinctive "landmark" architecture capable of becoming a "tourist and cultural centrepiece for the city." Expanding upon its vision, the department offer examples of recently built planetariums of architectural significance around the world that it considers of note. These include planetariums at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, the Nagoya City Science Museum in Japan, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, and the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

University of Toronto, planetarium, 50 St. George, Toronto(clockwise from top) Planetariums in Miami, Valencia, and New York, images courtesy of U of T

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics is currently working alongside architects to forge a path towards the building's realization, with the aim of having a design in place by 2020. The department has also begun looking for those interested in supporting the project financially.

It has been about 23 years since the McLaughlin Planetarium was shuttered beside the Royal Ontario Museum. About four years ago, a new cultural complex was proposed to replace it. 

University of Toronto, planetarium, 50 St. George, TorontoExisting McLaughlin Planetarium on Queens Park, image by Bryan Bonnici via Flickr

In the meantime, you can get involved in the discussion by visiting our Forum thread for the project, or by leaving a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.