The top 10 buildings to visit at Doors Open Toronto 2013

The top 10 buildings to visit at Doors Open Toronto 2013

The Dineen Building on Yonge Street is one of the new participants in Doors Open this year (Image: iQ Office Suites)

Doors Open Toronto—a.k.a Christmas for architectural voyeurs—takes place this Saturday and Sunday, giving a behind-the-scenes look at more than 150 of the city’s most storied, striking and sacred buildings. This year’s lineup includes perennial favorites like Commerce Court North and the Redpath Sugar Museum, but also has a special focus on renos, revivals and retrofits like the conversion of Maple Leaf Gardens and the Don Jail-Bridgepoint Health mash-up. Trying to take in all the sites would, obviously, be insane. Below, we zero in on 10 of the most intriguing (click here for a map of all our picks).

Jing Yin Temple
Doors Open always features spectacular religious architecture. Constructed mainly by unpaid volunteers in 2012, the Jing Ying Temple is modeled after ancient Chinese temples—the ceramic roof tiles, stone walls and engraved stair rails were all custom made in China. It’s also festooned with over 50 gold-plated bronze Buddha statues. 722 Brimley Rd., 416-267-8838. More information »

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant
This 1941 art deco masterpiece is the ultimate blend of form and function. The myriad arches and sumptuous marble floors give it the look of a Tuscan palazzo but, 70 years on, it still supplies the city with millions of litres of clean drinking water every day. Book lovers will recognize it from Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion (it was the target of a bomb plot); film buffs might recognize it from movies like Strange Brew, Half Baked and Undercover Brother. 2701 Queen St E. More information »

Bridgepoint Hospital and Administration Building
The recently completed Bridgepoint revitalization is a blend of ultra-modern health care design and, eerily enough, old-fashioned prison architecture, since the neighbouring 150-year-old Don Jail was turned into the hospital’s administrative buildings. Expect lineups to visit the preserved cells and gallows. 14 St. Matthews Rd., 416-461-8252. More information »

Regent Park Aquatic Centre
The latest building in Regent Park’s ongoing overhaul features the kind of daring, contemporary architecture that would make even the most discerning neighbourhood snob consider moving to this once-derelict area. Remember to bring your trunks for either lane or leisure swims, and don‘t forget to look up to admire the massive, swooping, cedar-paneled ceiling. 640 Dundas St. E., 416-338-2252. More information »

George Brown College Waterfront Campus
George Brown has grown from a third-tier school to an enviable academic institution in just a few years. The new waterfront campus, with its sweeping lake views and rooftop terraces, has a lot to do with the newfound respect. After touring through the sleek, KPMB-designed facility, check out other nearby waterfront jewels, including Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Commons, and the Corus Quay building. 51 Dockside Dr., 416-415-5000. More information »

Mattamy Athletic Centre at The Gardens
The Leaf’s post-season ended early, but hockey fans might take comfort in visiting a place where the Stanley Cup dream was once realized (albeit a verrry long time ago). The recently re-opened Maple Leaf Gardens is the new home of the Ryerson Rams hockey team, and features seats from the original stands and contents from a 1931 time capsule unearthed during the renovation. 50 Carlton St., 416-598-5966. More information »

Creating Toronto: The Story of the City in Ten Stops
For those who don’t know much about the city’s history, Heritage Toronto is leading free 90-minute tours of the need-to-know highlights, featuring important contributions to science, transportation and culture. The walks are led by PhD-level historians and stops include St. Lawrence Market, Union Station and the Elgin/Winter Garden Theatre. Leaves from 95 Front St. E at 10:30 and 2:30. More information »

Dineen Building 
When it was built in 1897, the showroom of the Dineen Hat and Fur company was a standout in downtown’s shopping district. By the end of the 20th century, the Renaissance revival building was covered in soot and being used as a flophouse. A careful restoration undertaken in 2012 blends modern design (the building now contains offices) with the kind of wood, stone and ironwork detailing unique to the late Victorian period. 140 Yonge St., 416-238-1111. More information »

Toronto Emergency Medical Services Headquarters
Toronto’s EMS headquarters receives over 800 emergency calls a day. A fun and interactive option for families since visitors to get to tour an ambulance, see the inside of a multi-casualty bus, use an Automatic External Defibrillator and learn how to perform Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. 4330 Dufferin St., 416-392-2000. More information »

Humber Arboretum Centre for Urban Ecology
Rexdale isn’t known for its world-class architecture. This minimal-yet-playful building, which has racked up an armload of design awards, is the exception. The surrounds—an oasis of flowers and trees that is much loved by west-end cyclists, photographers and walkers—are equally worth a visit as they feel more like a country meadow than the heart of suburbia. Closed Sunday. 205 Humber College Blvd., 416-675-5009. More information »
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