For two days, many “Authorized Personnel Only” signs become purely decorative as Torontonians are granted a backstage pass to office towers, television studios and other local institutions typically off-limits to the public. In total, more than 130 buildings are welcoming guests over the weekend. While repeat favourites such as the art deco and the First Nation lodge-inspired are sure to draw a crowd, this year’s list of sites also includes a number of notable new additions.
Below, we round up five first-time participants that offer a look at Toronto’s changing urban landscape, other ogle-worthy destinations. Find all of our Doors Open Toronto 2016 must-visits in our .
1 See how old buildings are keeping with the times
This year’s event theme, Re-used, Re-visited and Revised, casts a spotlight on projects updating tired properties. With the complex, merges old with new by suspending a 17-storey glass office tower above several 1900s-era red-brick heritage buildings. The structure’s pièce de résistance is its trio of 21-metre-tall X-shaped delta frames, which support the modern addition and double as dramatic centrepieces in the development’s five-storey atrium lobby. Guided 30-minute tours taking place throughout the day will let visitors take in the view from the upper office suites. 134 Peter St, Sat & Sun 10-5
2 For another contemporary reimagining of a heritage property, visit the . Anchored by the brick façade of the original Toronto General Hospital, the life sciences and tech hub recently expanded to include a -designed glass tower that’s become the Canadian headquarters of Facebook. 101 College St, Sat & Sun 10-5
3 Explore an academic facility at the top of its class
School may be winding down for the summer at York University’s Lassonde School, but there are still plenty of engineering lessons to be learned from the faculty’s radical new designed by . Take, for example, the cloud-shaped structure’s undulating facade, which is clad in triangular glass panels laid out according to a math algorithm. Or the high-bay materials lab, a poured concrete cube “building-within-a-building” that uses metre-thick floors and walls to minimize noise and vibrations from technical simulations. Both features are sure to inspire the next generation of engineers to dream big. 11 Arboretum Ln, Sat & Sun 10-5
4 For more A+ architecture, head to the . Decked in shimmering blue aluminum and patterned glass, ’s gem-shaped campus hotspot features grand social spaces modeled after Greek agoras. 341 Yonge St, Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5
5 Tour a modern home with expert detailing
Boutique developer creates houses that appeal to buyers seeking turn key properties with a twist. Designed by , the mid-market developments feature contemporary facades, but are not so stark as to annoy their historic neighbours. Handsome black-stained pine siding and wood-framed windows add curb appeal to this boxy – and even more smart moves await inside. A skylight above the open-tread staircase illuminates the crisp white interiors, while at the back, a cantilevered second storey extends out over the back patio to provide cozy coverage from the elements. 287 Brusnwick Ave, Sun 10-5
6 For another modern residence, check out ’s . The warehouse-turned-laneway home is named for an internal courtyard carved into the second storey. See for yourself why it won an OAA Design Excellence Award back in 2009. 2087 Davenport Rd, Sat & Sun 10-5
7 Get a look at a renowned architecture firm’s creative process
Time to find out if ’ George St. office is as calm and orderly as the firm’s acclaimed museums and academic buildings. Our guess: yes. Originally a 1920s paper manufacturing facility, this repurposed warehouse retains its industrial roots with exposed brick walls and post beam framing, but adds in a few soothing modern touches – such as a fishpond filled with koi. Look for renderings and wooden models of past projects on display throughout the open concept studio. 117 George St, Sun 10-5
As an added bonus, two of MTA’s most striking designs, the and the , are offering discounted admission during Doors Open.
8 For more designers’ workspaces, stop by the studios of , , (shown here), , and . The is also welcoming visitors to its Don Mills headquarters, where an exhibition of 2016’s will be on display.
9 Hear from an international design star
Industrial designer Karim Rashid kicks off this year’s edition of Doors Open by delivering the event’s first-ever keynote at the Design Exchange on Friday night. In the Toronto Star’s with the prolific creative, he offers some clues about what he may discuss in his talk, titled “The Future of Design.” Specifically, Rashid calls for an end to society’s fear of the present – which he sees as driving hipster nostalgia for retro designs. Perhaps his lecture will convince a few audience members to follow his lead and adopt a boldly contemporary all-pink wardrobe. 234 Bay St, Fri 7:30 pm
10 For more commentary from the design community, join one of Doors Open’s new walking tours. Waterfront Toronto guides a , highlighting how public sculptures such as ’s playful trio of figures, The Water Guardians, have played a role in rejuvenating the neighbourhood. Sat & Sun 10 & 2