May 16, 2022

Library Design: “A New Chapter for University of Toronto’s Brutalist Behemoth Fort Book”

From The Globe and Mail:

Image: U. of Toronto Libraries

The hulking pile sometimes known as Fort Book looms over the U of T campus like a sci-fi version of a medieval castle. From one angle it resembles a strutting turkey made from Lego blocks. Its dull concrete walls admit light grudgingly through tall slit windows. Instead of a grand main entrance, it has several, some reached by trudging up wide stone staircases. Inviting it is not.

A new wing aims to change that. The Robarts Commons adds five storeys of light-bathed study and meeting space to the old fort.

With pandemic restrictions easing, the library decided to give students a little treat and unveil the addition this week, while the finishing touches were still being applied. The doors opened at 8:30 on Thursday morning. Early birds started trickling in, looking a bit agog as they explored.

What they found was quite marvellous. Visitors enter by way of a new plaza flanked by cherry trees. Inside are 1,200 new study spots: some at facing desks; others on descending steps; others lined up against a huge glass wall; still others in chairs arranged in conversation circles. The look is all warm oak and grey carpet.

Image: U. of Toronto Libraries

Learn More, Read the Complete Article

See Also: Background and Images via University of Toronto Libraries

See Also: This is What the Inside of the Expanded Robarts Library at U of Toronto Will Look Like (via BlogTO; August 2021)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.