York opens its doors

One weekend, once a year in Toronto, over 100 buildings of architectural or historical significance open their doors to the public for a city-wide celebration known as Doors Open Toronto. This weekend marks the event’s fifth anniversary with a special focus on post-1945 contemporary Canadian architecture and architects.

York University is participating in Doors Open Toronto and included in this year’s tour are four elegant facilities built in recent years to accommodate the 47,000 students studying at York. Also among the 155 Doors Open destinations are two with connections to York and two that are close by the University’s Keele campus. Highlights:

Seymour Schulich Building


The Schulich Building is a striking combination of light, stone and steel. Home to the internationally renowned Seymour Schulich School of Business, the facility features strategically placed wings radiating from a central hub that allow sunlight to fill its theatre-style lecture halls and offices. The glass and limestone exterior forms a natural-looking veneer over a hi-tech facility built with the needs of its 2,750 students and 10,000 executive trainees in mind. The building’s dramatic complex, designed by Architects Hariri Pontarini and Robbie/Young + Wright, was cited by the Financial Times of London as one of the new breed of business schools changing the way business is taught. The Seymour Schulich Building is open Saturday 10am-4pm, but will not be open Sunday.

Computer Science & Engineering Building

York University’s Computer Science & Engineering Building (CSEB) won both the 2002 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture and the 2002 World Architecture Magazine’s Green Building of the Year Award. Designed by Busby + Associates/Van Nostrand Di Castri Architects, it is the most advanced “green” cold-climate building constructed by an academic institution in Canada. CSEB features natural light and fresh air, and requires up to two-thirds less energy than other buildings to heat, cool and light. Careful attention was also given to ensuring sustainable building materials were used in construction of the 110,000 square foot building. CSEB is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.



Honour Court and Information Centre

The Honour Court and Information Centre are located on York Boulevard, just inside the University’s main entrance. Designed by Stephen Teeple and Associates and funded entirely by private donations, the building is a tribute to the University’s benefactors and a meeting place for visitors. Its award-winning design enhances the University’s existing architecture and serves as an addition to York’s front door, Vari Hall and the Harry W. Arthurs Common. The pavilion wall contains five types of granite blocks marking the cumulative gifts of donors since York’s founding in 1959. The Information Centre provides visitors with University maps and information via a touch-screen monitor. The Honour Court and Information Centre is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

York University Student Centre

Completed in 1991, the Student Centre is regarded as a prime example of “new modernism” architecture in the Toronto area. Designed by A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt & Company and situated on the Harry W. Arthurs Common, the Student Centre features elliptical openings, magnificent stairs and sculpted structural elements that animate the centre. A continuous colonnade, glazed with triple-hung sash windows, provides weather protection for pedestrians. An over sailing, copper clad eave becomes the capital to the brick base and the concrete columns. The Student Centre houses restaurant and fast food amenities, offices, meeting and lounge spaces, and a daycare. The Student Centre is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

York connections and environs

Osgoode Hall

A Toronto landmark and the hub of legal life in Ontario for more than 170 years, Osgoode Hall is the original home of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, the second oldest common law school in Canada, established in 1889. Built by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1829-1832, the building was named after William Osgoode, first chief justice of the province. It currently houses both the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. A truly national law school, Osgoode graduates have gone into practice in all other common law provinces. Today, in its new home at York University, it stands as the largest faculty of common law in the country and boasts one of the most diverse student bodies in Canada. Osgoode Hall is located at 130 Queen St. West, and is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

The Noor Cultural Centre

Designed by Morijama & Teshima Architects and built in 1963, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre was a signal that the Japanese Canadian community was claiming a place within Canada’s cultural mosaic. The building received international attention for the way it combined a modernist sensibility with details and proportions reminiscent of Japanese building traditions. After the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre moved out of the building, Moriyama & Teshima Architects was responsible for transforming the building into The Noor Cultural Centre, an Islamic cultural centre, introducing subtle details that allude to Islamic building traditions. The building of the centre was funded by Toronto’s Lakhani family and it now serves as a hub for education and dialogue on Islam and other world faiths. Islamic studies activities at the centre are organized in consultation with York University faculty thanks to a fellowship sponsored by the Lakhani family. The centre is located in Don Mills at 123 Wynford Dr., and is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Located adjacent to York University’s Keele campus, Black Creek Pioneer Village is home to more than 35 century-old buildings. A popular tourist destination, “Black Creek pioneers”, dressed in period garb, go about their daily routine looking after the many farm animals housed on the site, tending heritage gardens and running their own pioneer enterprises. Daniel and Elizabeth Stong were the original settlers on the land where Black Creek Pioneer Village now stands. York University’s Stong College is named in their honour. In 1816, the Stongs began their married life together in rural York County. They worked hard, clearing over 100 acres of the land for farming and built their first home on the site. A grain barn, piggery, smoke house and finally, a larger second home were added over the next few years. The Stong farm buildings now form the heart of Black Creek Pioneer Village. The village is located at 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, on the west side of the Keele campus, and is open Saturday and Sunday, 11am-4pm.

Parc Downsview Park – The Hangar

One of the largest buildings on the Downsview Park lands, with an area of 44,464 square meters, the Hangar was built in 1940 to mass-produce Mosquito aircraft during WWII. The building’s design reflects the International Style, a modern architectural movement focusing on industrial and machine-like characteristics. Large windows provide natural lighting, while the large open floor space is suitable for multi-purpose functions and an automated assembly line. Today the Hangar is used as an indoor soccer facility between the months of October and April, while the remainder of the year it is used for trade shows and community and cultural events. The Hangar is located just south of York’s Keele campus at 75 Carl Hall Road. It is open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

About Doors Open Toronto

Doors Open Toronto is an annual weekend event coordinated by the City of Toronto Culture Division. The program allows visitors free access to architecturally and/or historically significant properties that are either not usually open to the public, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Many locations have organized guided tours, displays and activities to enrich the visitor experience. Buildings are selected based on a number of criteria developed by the City’s Culture Division. The roster of buildings reflects Toronto’s built heritage and cultural diversity, ranging from War of 1812-era structures to a modern mosque and environmentally progressive “green” buildings.