BALLENFORD BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE, 600 Markham, 416-588-0800, www.ballenford.com. Rating: NNNNN
If you need background material for fall's big design-geek draw, the Architecture Days Festival (www.architecturedays.com), head over to Ballenford Books on Architecture. The 25-year-old Mirvish Village shop (one of only two bookstores in Canada dealing exclusively with architecture) was taken over in 1996 by Susan Delean, who's created a stylish and well-stacked reading post for design professionals and fans.
An acid yellow anteroom leads to a quiet, carpeted space filled with journals (The Plan, 2G), mags (Azure, Abitare and Spacing) and heavy-weight volumes. Noguchi-coffee-table-ready tomes include Taschen's series on modern starchitects like Renzo Piano and Santiago Calatrava. The store specializes in hard-to-find titles and publishers, and proudly sells essay compendiums by local firms.
An art wall showcases landscapes by architect-turned-architectural photographer Tom Arban, while the in-house postcard collection features striking archival images and amateur snaps tracing Toronto's design evolution.
Ballenford picks: A Toronto archives postcard shows new City Hall looming over the classical Registry of Deeds and Titles block that stood next door, $1.50; a Tom Arban street scene from Jordan hangs horizontally on a salmon-coloured wall, $1,900; El Croquis is the hefty holy grail of architecture journals (double issue 134/135 follows the work of OMA and Rem Koolhaas from 1996 to 2007, $125).
Look for: 10 per cent discounts for students and faculty.
Hours: Monday and Sunday noon to 5 pm, Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday 10 am to 7 pm.