Parkdale Collegiate Library

Surface Experiments

The library at Parkdale Collegiate, although modest in scale and resources, is very well used. The size of the original library was doubled by erecting a new floor within the adjacent double-height gymnasium. The expansion and renovation of the existing library provides more space and incorporates new equipment/resources that provides a new, dynamic environment. The design is structured into spaces or ‘bands’ based on the type of use, allowing for easy supervision and organization. The book stacks and librarian storage sit on one side of the library and the quiet, study carrels are on the other, separated by the main band of activity and circulation. These bands are articulated by various activities within them as well as the finishes and ceiling heights.

This project had an aggressive per-square-foot budget. A high level of design was maintained without exceeding this cost limit by relying on new designed adjacencies rather than the use of rich materials for elevated quality. Standard materials chosen for durability and performance were combined in unexpected ways to achieve richness of texture, colour, and undulating form. All of these transformations were completed while respecting the spirit of the budget.

Parkdale Collegiate Library was the recipient of the Ontario Library Award for innovation and standard setting design.

Located at the centre of an inner-city neighbourhood in the west end of downtown Toronto, the library at Parkdale Collegiate Institute forms an integral part of both the school and the surrounding neighbourhood. Students feel comfortable and welcomed by this new space. The layout of the library allows for fluid circulation, which is dramatically evident during peak user hours, making the library feel spacious regardless of the number of students. Students and teachers want to be in the library and teachers book the library for every period of every day, a testament to the success of the design. The 6,000 sq.ft. library serves approximately 600 students and 50 teachers and staff members, has 18, 758 resources in its collection, 27 computers, and circulates 300 books per month.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Toronto District School Board

  • Location

    Toronto, Ontario

  • Size

    6,000 sqf

  • Status


  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Structural — Blackwell Bowick Engineering

    Electrical — Day + Behn Engineering

    Mechanical — Day + Behn Engineering

  • General Contractor

    KCL Contracting + Engineering LTD.

  • Photography

    Tom Arban