Recent updates to the initial concept for the redesign of Toronto Public Library's Dawes Road branch positions the project to become a visual, cultural, and environmental landmark. ( A detailed review of the project's initial design is in this previous UrbanToronto feature.)

Looking northwest to the Dawes Road Library, designed by Perkins&Will and Smoke Architecture for the Toronto Public Library

Designed by Perkins&Will and the Hamilton based Indigenous architecture firm Smoke Architecture, the design of the three-storey, 25,500 ft² building embraces Indigenous values, features a community-hub serving various community needs, and incorporates materials and structures that support current environmental imperatives.

According to the architects, the "three-storey building’s façade is inspired by the cultural star blanket, wrapping around the building as a symbol of respect and admiration for everyone in the community. A new roundhouse will form the heart of the building, visible from the streetscape, which will host ceremonies for Indigenous communities and become a central space for knowledge sharing."

Interior of the second floor, Dawes Road Library, designed by Perkins&Will and Smoke Architecture for the Toronto Public Library

Current revisions to the project respond to feedback from the City’s Design Review Panel (DRP) — including a more saturated colouration of the exterior — and various community stakeholders.

Improvements within the right of way

The DRP expressed concern about the impact of existing hydro infrastructure on the public realm. In response to this concern the project team submitted an application to Toronto Hydro for the relocation or upgrade of hydro poles along Chapman and Dawes Road.

Pedestrian Experience - Crosswalk and Pedestrian Path Upgrade

To further address public realm concerns raised by the DRP, the project team suggested an upgrade to the crosswalk on Dawes Road that will elevate the walking surface to put it on level with the sidewalk for improved pedestrian safety. To enhance the pedestrian experience, there will be consistent pedestrian paving from the building face to the curb. Surrounding pedestrian paths will be added green plantings to create more opportunities for seating and gathering places.

Looking west to the Dawes Road Library, designed by Perkins&Will and Smoke Architecture for the Toronto Public Library

Further Public Realm Enhancements

The project team is also proposing the inclusion of pedestal mounted charging stations for laptops and phones, outdoor Wi-Fi coverage, bottle fill and pet drinking fountain, bike repair station, and a variety of seating options. The project team notes that many of these proposed amenities address public realm enhancements but are beyond the formal scope of the project and would require additional support in the form of permitting, scheduling, and possibly funding.

Looking northeast to the library, designed by Perkins&Will and Smoke Architecture for the Toronto Public Library

Building Massing and Setbacks

Following review with the City’s Planning Division, the Project team revised the building massing to achieve a slight set back from the south property line and to more closely meet the built edge established by neighbouring houses.

Environmental Priorities

Targeting net zero carbon certification, the building structure incorporates a geothermal system, and a high performance-building envelope.

To support staff and visitors’ use of low carbon emission bikes for transportation, updated plans now include allotment of internal and external spaces for the parking of bikes. The exact amount of spaces will be determined based on discussion with City staff, and precedence from other TPL branches.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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