The Royal Ontario Museum completed the third phase of its three-year-long Welcome Project this week with the opening of a new public terrace and plaza surrounding the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Bloor Street entrance. Dubbed the Helga and Mike Schmidt Performance Terrace and the Reed Family Plaza, the additions are the final phase of the museum’s initiative to provide greater access to the Toronto community. The first two phases consisted of the reopening of the heritage Weston Entrance on Queen’s Park in 2017 and the granting of free public access to the Daphne Cockwell Gallery, dedicated to Indigenous art and culture, in 2018.
The new outdoor spaces, funded through philanthropic efforts and designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, are intended to function as a passageway between the cosmopolitan city and the ROM’s rich worlds of art, artifacts, and history. They are the architectural personification of an open invitation to enter the museum, a beckoning finger to passersby.
A place for both solitary contemplation and discussion, the terrace overlooks the winding Philosopher’s Walk below and features a platform for performances. The plaza extends from the Bloor Street entrance and is a gathering space embellished with calming greenery, including perennial plants native to Ontario (appealing to pollinators as well as people). The two areas collectively encompass 13,595 square feet, hold up to 250 people, and were constructed with Algonquin limestone, found only in the Wiarton region of Ontario. The surrounding gardens will transform throughout the year, with new florals budding seasonally—a cycle of colour ornamenting the ROM itself.
Photos by Matt Forsythe.
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