COMMUNAL ACT OF DESIGN Albion Library’s design embodies a community-driven narrative resulting from a series of consultations. The community presented a major shift from original ideations. Employing this feedback, Perkins + Will encouraged the community to drive the design vision.
Located in Toronto’s Rexdale neighbourhood, Albion Library is one of the city’s busiest public libraries, serving as a social epicenter for the suburb.
Recognizing the facility as a critical to the community, Perkins+Will understood that closing down the library during construction was not an option. Instead, the team chose to erect a new facility in the adjacent, underutilized parking lot, allowing branch operations to continue.
The old site will be transformed into a landscaped parking lot mirroring a public plaza and market square.
VIBRANT UNVEILING Reminiscent of a walled garden, the dynamic façade gives the illusion of a front porch trellis – its privacy veil injecting colour into the street.
Punctuated by courtyard gardens and interior pavilions, Albion Library’s footprint is a pure square. The perimeter is defined by a screen of polychrome terracotta tiles in bright, unexpected colours. Contrasting the monotone asphalt that surrounds the site, the form offers a respite from the busy arterial context of Albion Road.
WELCOMING PEOPLE IN Surrounding the library, expansive windows offer pedestrians views inside, showcasing programming and drawing users into the space. The entry is highly visible from the street, public transit, and the community plaza. Ample seating is available in the public forecourt near the main entrance. A generous planting of new trees flank the site, growing into an rich amenity green space.
COLOUR BETWEEN THE LINES Buffering between the residential neighbourhood and busy four-lane road, Albion Library offers a colourful counter to the traffic outside.
Bringing an unexpected vibrancy into the distinctly concrete streetscape, Albion Library’s façade playfully juxtaposes its surroundings.
SEEN FROM ALL ANGLES Stepping inside, transparency fosters community. Strategically placed glass walls separate meeting rooms, while low visual barriers create defined areas for activity and diverse programming.
Every space is visibly accessible, yet connected to the library’s circulation hub.
COURTYARD FOR ALL-AGES Multigenerational design is harnessed through the facility’s three courtyard gardens – dedicated to youth, teens and adults.
Weaving nature and natural light deep into the library’s interiors, spaces allow for quiet contemplation and study. The courtyards provide secure zones for exterior programming.
Bright colours and geometric shapes create a sense of informality and playfulness in the curated greenspace.
URBAN LIVING ROOM Mirroring the community’s evolving needs, Perkins+Will’s design moves beyond the bookshelf, prioritizing spaces for collaboration and creation.
The Urban Living Room resembles a informal extension of the home, providing an adaptable space for cultural events, concerts and readings, from spoken word to hip-hop battles.
The library’s Innovation Studio Lab contributes to cultural production and houses a myriad of STEM programming, empowering youth to enhance their technical skills in coding, circuit building and 3D Printing.
NATURAL BALANCE Notched light is featured throughout – carefully placed windows and lighting fixtures illuminate each area.
The Library footprint is divided into a series of open zones. Careful composition of the spaces creates a rich and varied plan that accommodates open, cellular, and private spaces, ensuring ease of access. Programmatically, the building houses a wide range of services that go beyond traditional book lending to include cultural orientation, social integration, employment skills, and access to technology and knowledge.
MULTI-USE URBAN PLAZA The new parking lot is designed as a multifunctional public space capable of accommodating a wide variety of markets and cultural events – from festivals and concerts to farmers markets. It’s equipped with both water and power for maximum flexibility.