RIP Danforth Toan, Architect of Brutalist Libraries

roens/CC BY 2.0

Brutalism is going through a rough period these days, with many great buildings under threat. (just have a look at F*uck Yea Brutalism if you don't know what it is) Architect Danforth Toan specialized in library design, and often wrapped them in a brutalist shell. One of his major works was Toronto's Robarts Library, with Toronto firm Mathers and Haldenby. Lindsey Roberts writes in Architect Magazine:

At its opening in 1973, the Brutalist-style Robarts Library at the University of Toronto was said to be the largest academic building in the world, with each side of the equilateral-triangle-shaped building measuring 330 feet, and with enough space inside for 4,000 people and 1 million volumes. The library was impressive to more than just Toronto students; novelist Umberto Ecco wrote much of his 1983 novel, "The Name of the Rose," in the library, taking some of its features as inspiration for the secret library described in the book.

Toan was also an historic preservationist; Roberts continues:

It is perhaps appropriate that Toan, designer of a few Brutalist buildings, was also active in historic preservation, finding himself at the center of the Vinyl Wars in 1994 in Tappan, opposing the use of vinyl siding on historic homes.

Danforth Toens, dead at 94.

Here is why I liked the Robarts and brutalism in general: On The Case For Saving Ugly Buildings

Tags: Ban Demolition | Preservation

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