The Robarts Library - University of Toronto, Canada

Mathers & Haldenby Architects
with consultation from Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde
Date Built
Begun in 1968 and completed in 1973
At the corner of St. George Street and Harbord Street
The building occupies a triangualar site with each side being 100 metres long.  The base of the triangle runs paralel to Huron Street and the apex points towards St. George's Street.  It stands 14-storeys above the ground and 2 below. 

One description of the building describes it as follows, "The elevation is mostly concrete, albeit differing in textures and directionality: smooth concrete lines the façade in a horizontal manner, the rough concrete lining vertically. The steel-framed windows are situated onto the bays protruding from the façade, which remind one of the towers overhanging in medieval castle architecture." 

The original cost of the building was $40million.  In 2008 a significan upgrade to the building was announced that would include replacing some of the concrete walls with windows allow more light into the building.  The cost of the renovations was estimated to be $42million.

In an article in the Toronto Star on Friday, December 17, 2010, the architect involved in the redisgn of the building, Gary McCluskie (a principal at Toronto’s Diamond and Schmitt Architects) said, "...The building was incredibly well built and has lasted really well. We were struck by the quality of the construction. The doors were finished in brass and the couches upholstered in leather. We were hired to create a livelier environment, something brighter and more open.”

In writing the Star article Christopher Hume expressed his own view about the building, "There’s Brutalism and just plain brutal. The University of Toronto’s Robarts Library is both.  Fort Book, as it’s known, opened in 1973 — not so long ago, but an eon ago culturally. Back then, the library was a kind of fortress, a place intended for the academic elite (undergrads not included), a cloistered building designed to keep the world at bay."