Yorkville Public Library: Part of Toronto’s Heritage

Address: 22 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Standing out front of the Yorkville Public Library you can not help but be drawn to the facade of the building as the grand architectural detailing entices you to further explore this symmetrical building. Walking up the concrete stairs advancing to the entrance of the library you feel as though you are caged in by the sublime columns. These columns are paired on both sides of the front doors as they guide your eyes upwards towards the entablature which houses the buildings title as a library, and the gable. The architectural detailing of the enthralling facade acknowledges greek architecture dating back to 400 BC. This acknowledgement is not verbally given by the architect who designed the library, but is visually demonstrated with columns, an entablature, dentils, and a gable. The library was designed in 1903 by city architect Robert McCallum who also designed many other libraries, community centers, and fire stations located in Toronto. The library did not open to the public till June 13, 1907.

The materials used in the facade of the library are repeated throughout the exterior in a very symmetrical rhythm. If you were to cut the building in half from the south-facing doors to the north backing of the library, you would have two perfect halves. The many materials used to build the library were very easily transported, and bought, as the materials mainly consisted of concrete, bricks, wood, and glass. Most of the building is constructed out of concrete, more specifically prefabricated concrete. The process of pre-making the desired shaper of the columns, window frames, stairs, etc. made it easier to construct, and reduced labour hours down to a minimum. The concrete slabbed base, as well, the concrete bottom ground floor is poured into place as these perfectly flat horizontal and vertical planes demonstrate such beautiful craftsmanship. Moving on from the use of concrete in the building the second material to stand out the most is the brick detailing, which encompasses the building all the way around as if it were covering the library like a blanket, or more like a helmet protecting the cities knowledge (books, city documents, etc.). Yet again the bricked facade was as well easy to operate with during the construction process, and a very neutral colored brick, it gave the library some life to its surroundings instead of keeping everything a basic monochromatic scheme. At the top of the stairs underneath the gable you encounter the two grand wooden doors housing the entrance to the library. The repetition of wood is also used in the inner window framing which houses the clear glazed glass.

The library has a mixture of design elements and inspirations, as it mixes traditional architecture, modern, and greek. The windows being traditional casement windows (now fixed windows) have very heavy concrete detailing around the windows. This detailing for the library makes the library stand out from a distance, as each feature is massively done from the windows, to the doors, to the front entrance in general. In regards to the front entrance at the bottom of the stairs I forgot to mention that there lays a beautiful little garden of trees and shrubs circling along the sides, and there are also a few benches just under the trees with bike racks.This space alone adds to the publics’ feeling of well-being, though this space was designed for them, whether they wanted to take a book out to read on a bench or if they decided to ride their bicycle into Yorkville. Overall the Yorkville Public Library was a well planned and thought out building, which has always served its purpose which has been to always function as a library for the public


– “History of Yorkville.” http://www.Bloor-Yorkville.com. 2010 Bloor Yorkville. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://www.bloor-yorkville.com/About-Us/History.aspx>.

– Brown, Alan. “Yorkville Branch, Toronto Public Library 1907”. http://www.alanbrown.com. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://www.alanbrown.com/TorontoHistory/Pages_VWZ/Yorkville_Branch_Library.html>.

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