The 2018 Heritage Toronto Special Achievement Award is going to the Toronto Public Library, honouring the organization's contribution to the preservation and education of our city's heritage. The award recognizes the various unique branch buildings across the city, with a range including Beaux Arts-style buildings like the Yorkville branch (Toronto's oldest operating public library), Postmodern buildings like the Toronto Reference Library, Brutalist designs like the Fairview library, and plenty more architectural variety.

"The Toronto Public Library is a great steward of its buildings", reads a statement issued by Kate Marshall, Chair of the Heritage Toronto Board. "It is also an innovator that has worked with leading architectural firms to design vital community spaces to serve a growing city and its changing communities. This Award recognizes the Library's exemplary conservation work and its significant contributions as a city builder."

With 100 branches spread across the city, Toronto Public Library has added new branches, while also renovating or expanding existing branches to both embrace rapid technological change and respect the architectural contributions to the neighbourhoods they serve.

"One of the great strengths of the public library is that we are not just one institution", reads a quote from Vickery Bowles, Toronto Public Library's City Librarian. "We are 100 institutions in 100 different neighbourhoods, reaching and serving people where they live. Our buildings are part of local communities, designed to preserve and recognize the history of neighbourhoods. We appreciate this Award and its recognition of our efforts."

Three specific branch buildings being recognized for their heritage and architecture are:

• Bloor/Gladstone

This branch dates back over a century to 1913, and was the first branch to be built entirely with City funding.  The facility was closed in 2006 for a major restoration and expansion, reopening 3 years later with a modern glass-walled addition designed by RDH Architects and Shoalts and Zaback Architects.

Bloor/Gladstone branch, image courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Fort York

Built as part of the Library District Condos development, this 2014-opened branch at Bathurst and Bremner was designed by KPMB Architects, and features a prominent public art installation on its west façade facing Bathurst.

Fort York branch, image courtesy of Toronto Public Library

• Scarborough Civic Centre

Designed by LGA Architectural Partners in association with Philip H. Carter Architecture + Urban Planning, Toronto's 100th public library branch opened in 2015 to much fanfare. The building has since won the Toronto Urban Design Award, as well as a number of other design awards.

Scarborough Civic Centre branch, image courtesy of Toronto Public Library

What are your favourite libraries around Toronto? Let us know what you think in the comments section provided below.

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