Canadian Consulting Engineer

VIDEO: Engineering firms to help transform Toronto’s ROM

February 16, 2024
By Peter Saunders


Rendering courtesy Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Construction will begin next week at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for the ‘OpenROM’ project, which will architecturally transform the building’s main floor and redesign its Bloor Street entrance (see flythrough video, below).

As its name suggests, the multifaceted initiative is intended to enhance public access and engagement. The revitalization project is funded by private philanthropy, including a $50-million donation from the Hennick Family Foundation, the single largest cash gift in the museum’s history.

Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects leads the design, which will transform 86,000 sf on the main floor and add 6,000 sf of new gallery space to the second and third levels. The project team also includes Eastern Construction, Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineering), TMP (mechanical engineering), Mulvey & Banani (electrical engineering), MTE (civil engineering), Entro (signage/wayfinding), ERA Architects (heritage) and Dan Euser Waterarchitecture (fountain).

The foyer will lead to Hennick Commons, a four-storey atrium capped with a diagrid glass ceiling, where a 2,400-sf forum with a new, levelled limestone and wood floor will host performances and programs. Adjacent to the forum, a lily pad connector of stairs and ramps will offer three accessible lookout platforms and improve mobility between the building’s old and new wings.

OpenROM water feature

Rendering courtesy Hariri Pontarini Architects.

A new showcase water feature will wrap around the heritage façade at the corner of Bloor Street and Queen’s Park (pictured above), changing from water in the summer to cracked ice in the winter. The new, fully accessible floor-to-ceiling glass entryway, dubbed the Hennick Entrance, will be sheltered by a bronze canopy.

“We’re going to reintroduce ROM to Toronto with a design that, in effect, turns the museum inside out,” says Hariri. “We’re going to bring daylight and views deep inside and create new connections with Bloor Street, within the ground-floor public spaces and the galleries themselves.”

The ROM will remain open throughout the estimated three years of construction. Once the work is completed, the initiative will introduce ongoing free access to the main floor, inspired by the success of donor-supported pilot projects in 2022 and 2023.

“OpenROM is more than a physical transformation,” says the museum’s director and CEO, Josh Basseches. “It is a leap forward in becoming a more welcoming and accessible space. We want people from down the block and around the world to feel like this is a place for them.”

The ROM reportedly draws 1.4 million visitors a year.


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