Every year Doors Open presents a mix of new and favourite sites for the avid architourist (that's not a registered trademark, is it Dave?), and this year, with what's on display at Robarts Library, it should rise to the top of your list... and not just for the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the iSchool Institute, the two Doors Open venues onsite. One of the best reasons to go is not part of Doors Open itself, but integral to visiting them, is the new "portico" atrium lobbies at Robarts. The porticos, along with extensive renovations to the workspaces on the floors above, were recently completed by Diamond + Schmitt Architects. All were officially opened in grand style on Thursday. Let's take a look.

How Robarts looks from afar, and how the entry areas looked, will be familiar to thousands who have used the library over the years.

The John P. Robarts Research Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, imaThe John P. Robarts Research Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, image by Craig White

Robarts Library at U of T before renovations, by Mathers and HaldenbyRobarts Library at U of T before renovations, by Mathers and Haldenby, image courtesy of Diamond + Schmitt Architects

Old Entry Space at Robarts Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, imageOld Entry Space at Robarts Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, image by Craig White

The yawing concrete porticos were windswept and little used. They are now interior spaces, and walking into them, you have the feeling that they should always have been this way.

Robarts Library at U of T after renovations, image courtesy of Diamond +SchmittRobarts Library at U of T after renovations, image courtesy of Diamond + Schmitt Architects

Robarts Library at U of T after renovations by Diamond +Schmitt Architects, imagRobarts Library at U of T after renovations by Diamond + Schmitt Architects, image by Craig White

Robarts Library at U of T after renovations, image courtesy of Diamond +SchmittRobarts Library at U of T after renovations, image courtesy of Diamond + Schmitt Architects

Robarts Library at U of T after renovations by Diamond +Schmitt Architects, imagRobarts Library at U of T after renovations by Diamond + Schmitt Architects, image by Craig White

Robarts Library Portico at U of T after renovations by Diamond +SchmittRobarts Library Portico at U of T after renovations by Diamond + Schmitt Architects, image by Craig White

The porticos are the last part of the phase one renovations at the library, so it was time to celebrate.

Robarts Library Renovations Opening Ceremony, image by Craig WhiteRobarts Library Renovations Opening Ceremony, image by Craig White

Gary McCluskie, principal at Diamond + Schmitt, was one of several speakers at the opening. Here he explains, with the help of slides, a number of the recent improvements to the library, of which there have been many, especially to the student workspaces throughout. Of particular note are touch screens in the portico lobby areas which can show a student exactly where free study spaces can be found throughout the 13 floor building, and which can also locate on a map the exact shelf where any book can be found in the library. Wow.

Gary McCluskie of Diamond + Schmitt Architects speaks at the opening of renovatiGary McCluskie of Diamond + Schmitt Architects speaks at the opening of renovations at Robarts Library, image by Craig White

At the end of the speeches, the ribbon was cut by (left to right) Gary McCluskie of Diamond + Schmitt, Cheryl Misak, Vice President and Provost of the University of Toronto, Russell and Katherine Morrison, lead benefactors and longtime U of T philanthropists, Margaret Kim, undergraduate student representative, and Carole Moore, chief librarian at the U of T.

Ribbon Cutting at the opening of renovations at Robarts Library, image by Craig Ribbon Cutting at the opening of renovations at Robarts Library, image by Craig White

The results of many years efforts can now be seen in the library. Look for them should you be visiting this weekend, as was mentioned above, the two Doors Open venues related to Robarts. In the south tower at Robarts is one of Toronto's true interior gems, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Designed by Mathers and Haldenby with interior fittings by Warner, Burns, Toan and Lunde of New York, the cavernous but intimate space houses much of the 700,000 book collection, and provides an exhibition space for some of its most important items. Works in the collection date from a 1793 BCE Babylonian cuneiform tablet to present original manuscripts of seminal works. This venue is only open on Saturday.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, image byThomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the U of T, by Mathers and Haldenby, image by Craig White

In the north tower is the iSchool Institute, new this year to Doors Open. It is open both Saturday and Sunday, details here.

Next up for Robarts? A new addition to the west side of the building, also by Diamond + Schmitt. We will be looking at it more closely in the coming weeks, but you can get a quick peek now by clicking on the dataBase entry below.

What's your take on Robarts? Did you or do you use the library as a student? We would love to have your memories or comments on the changes here, or in the Projects & Construction thread for Robarts, accessible at the link below.