DOORS OPEN TORONTO One hundred fifty architecturally and historically significant buildings offer guided tours. Saturday and Sunday (May 24 and 25), 10 am to 5 pm. Free. www.toronto.ca/doorsopen. Rating: NNNNN
Why open these doors?
This is a celebration of buildings that speak to their architectural, historical, cultural and social significance. The throughline of the whole event is to open the doors of buildings we don’t normally have access to. It’s about the stories that spill out when you open the doors and invite people in.
Has Doors Open been a consistent success?
In 1999, the first year, my goal was to get 50 buildings on the roster and 25,000 people. We got 90 buildings and 75,000 people, so we knew right away we were onto something.
What draws people in?
People are curious about what’s behind those doors and where the buildings come from – the Presbyterian church that became a mosque, the bakery that became a condo. It’s as if the event takes the pulse of the city.
Tell us about the sacred spaces theme.
Themes help us refresh the roster and give us another layer of interpretation and public experience. This year we have 14 sacred spaces. Those who have never walked through the doors of a mosque, cathedral, Sikh temple or synagogue need to find out more.
What’s the most surprising building on the roster?
I never thought Osgoode Hall would agree, but Roy McMurtry was all over this and said, “This is a building owned by the people of Ontario – let’s open it up and show them what goes on in here.”
Which building is on your wish list?
The Don Jail, the historic 1850s building. It was on the roster in year one and year two but hasn’t been opened since. And the RC Harris water filtration plant. Architecturally, there’s nothing else like it. Geographically, it’s where the Scarborough bluffs emerge out of the lake. It’s the water filtration plant, but it’s built like a Roman bath, and it’s also the setting for the climax of Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion.
Favourite spot to appreciate T.O. architecture?
Ward’s Island. There isn’t another view of the city like it.