How the University of Toronto wants to make Robarts Library a little less imposing

How the University of Toronto wants to make Robarts Library a little less imposing

What it is: Robarts Common, a glassy, zinc-plated, five-storey addition to the west side of the University of Toronto’s Robarts library, which the university says will add 1,222 new work and study spaces.

Price tag: The university won’t release any information about the cost of the project.

Pedigree: The new wing is being designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, whose resumé includes a number of post-secondary school buildings, among them Ryerson’s Image Centre, a sleek modern gallery and learning space with a light-up exterior. The firm also had a hand in an earlier round of renovations at Robarts, completed in 2012.

Most promising feature: This is a massive improvement over the current west-side facade, which is basically a big concrete wall with a loading dock.

Risk factor: The university relies on donations for big capital projects like these, so the feasibility of the idea will probably depend on the generosity of a few very wealthy people. The university won’t say how the fundraising campaign is going.

Likely opposition: People who appreciate the purity of genuine 1970s brutalist architecture might resent the imposition, but they’re not the best organized lobbying group, so everything will be fine.

The odds: The University of Toronto is pretty good at getting what it wants, and this doesn’t look as though it will be any exception. The project is still waiting on city approval, though, and there’s no firm timeline yet.