By The Archives of Ontario will be moving into a new “green” facility on York University’s Keele campus in Toronto, the Ontario Minister of Government Services Gerry Phillips announced last month. The York University Development Corporation was one of four initial bids to house the archives. The existing facility is on Grenville Street, near Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto.
The $100-million new building at York University will be designed by architect Bregman + Hamann as architects, with Halsall Associates responsible for the structural engineering and consulting on sustainable design, Smith and Andersen doing mechanical/electrical engineering, and R.V. Anderson Associates as civil engineers.
Some of the material in the archives dates back to the 18th century, and the collection is valued at more than $400 million. Climate control was a major concern in their existing home because of the sensitive nature of the material. The new building will also help the Archives address the major structural concerns present in its current location. The Toronto Star reported that a consultant’s evaluation of the current building found that the archives’ value was declining at a rate of $36,000. The consultant reportedly cited mould infestation and sagging floors as some of the reasons for the decline in value.
The three-storey new building will allow the Archives to double its public reference area, with over 98,000 square feet of space. It will be designed as a sustainable and environmentally-friendly space. The goal is to have LEED silver certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System). It will include features like “smart” lighting, heat recovery and solar shading.
Under the new agreement, the province will sign a 35-year lease with York University. It is hoped that development in the area and the expansion of the Spadina subway line will make the Archives’ new home more accessible to the public.
A York University representative says they hope to break ground later this spring. The new facility is expected to open in the spring of 2009.