ontario science centre

Here's what Toronto could lose if Doug Ford demolishes the Ontario Science Centre

Premier Doug Ford announced new details in the plan to redevelop Ontario Place on Tuesday, confirming the suspicions of many when sharing that the province will indeed relocate the Ontario Science Centre to new digs within the sweeping waterfront redevelopment project.

"We're bringing more to Ontario Place with more beaches, more greenspace, more trails and more fun with the Ontario Science Centre, a year-round Live Nation concert venue and expanded food and beverage offerings so families can enjoy a meal together," said Premier Doug Ford.

Ford and cabinet members revealed details of the new Science Centre to reporters, and all but confirmed that his government was looking into tearing down the existing facility at Don Mills and Eglinton.

"Moving the Ontario Science Centre also creates a generational housing opportunity at the future site of a terminus station of the new Ontario Line with additional planned community infrastructure," reads a release issued by the Province.

Little else was mentioned of the existing Science Centre in Tuesday's presser, but important voices from heritage and architecture circles are already speaking out over apparent plans to level the science museum.

Designed by legendary Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama, the initial pre-expansion complex was constructed from 1966-1967.

ontario science centre

The Ontario Science Centre as illustrated before construction began in the mid-1960s. Image via Moriyama Teshima Architects.

It was intended to open as the "Centennial Centre of Science and Technology" during the Canadian Centennial celebration, though construction ran behind schedule and the connected buildings would not open for another two years.

ontario science centre

The complex under construction in the 1960s. Photo via Ontario Science Centre.

When it finally opened in September 1969, the complex stood out as a bold example of the then-emerging Brutalist style of architecture, named for the French Béton brut, and not for its aggressively imposing aesthetic.

ontario science centre

The complex remains a prime example of Brutalism in Ontario. Image via Moriyama Teshima Architects.

Moriyama's work at the Science Centre is hailed by some as a masterpiece of the era, and one of the defining works of the style in the province.

ontario science centre

Subtle curves and textures carry on from the exterior to indoor areas. Image via Moriyama Teshima Architects.

Like the Science Centre's original exteriors, interiors at the Science Centre make ample use of exposed concrete to form stark spaces that contrast sharply against warm colours used for display spaces and interactive exhibits.

ontario science centre

Mod-themed vibes were featured heavily in the museum's early days. Photo via Ontario Science Centre.

The idea of demolishing this landmark has not gone over well in the design community. Globe and Mail architecture critic, Alex Bozikovic, calls the building "deeply important," and says demolishing it would be a "shameful" move.

In response to Bozikovic's take, one commenter said, "It's criminal that this building, built in 1969, is being presented as too old to be saved - so Ford is moving the Science Centre to the Ontario Place Pods, built only 2 years later," calling the decision "a tragic loss - Ontario will take decades to recover from."

Brutalist buildings have faced an increased threat of demolition in the decades since falling out of favour for more contemporary styles.

ontario science centre

The Ontario Science Centre in its early days. Image via Moriyama Teshima Architects.

Among the Toronto buildings of this style facing the wrecking ball, 522 University Avenue is proposed to be replaced by a new condo tower, and the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre may be reduced to just a few facades as part of a proposed redevelopment of its Wynford Drive site.

Lead photo by

Moriyama Teshima Architects

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