A brilliant Fort York Visitor Centre, a legacy for learning, discovery and the local community, is now under construction, to open in 2014. The design by Patkau Architects Inc. / Kearns Mancini Architects Inc., which won a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, artfully references Fort York’s historic context on the bluff of Lake Ontario. The front of the building’s weathered steel panels bring the site into striking, contemporary focus while recalling the fort’s original defensive setting as viewed from the water.
The Visitor Centre, located on Fort York Boulevard, will serve as gateway and hub for the entire 43-acre Fort York National Historic Site. The deck of the Gardiner Expressway, soaring 60 feet overhead, creates a dramatic forecourt on the south side of the Visitor Centre. Watertable, a multimedia public artwork that is part of the underside of the expressway deck highlights the location of Lake Ontario’s original shoreline with light and sound of.
In the Visitor Centre (see plan) you will find: an entrance hall; an orientation theatre; an exhibit room for objects of symbolic power and historical mysteries from City of Toronto collections; a changing exhibits gallery; and a Battle of York immersive experience. This innovative space, the last before the visitor steps from the building onto the Common en route to the Fort, uses video, audio, lighting and graphics to give an impression of the changing dynamics of the battle that occurred just west of Fort York on 27 April, 1813.
The new building will contain a resource centre for material about Fort York and the War of 1812, complementing a new Toronto Public Library on Fort York Blvd at Bathurst St.
A total of $19 million has been committed by three levels of government. The Fort York Foundation needs to raise another $6 million from the community to complete this $25 million building with its exhibits.
Click floor plan image to to view the
proposed multilevel layout (PDF)