Slice 2014 STUDIO: TORONTO with Kristen Smith

Slice was a design studio project by Lily Jeon and Kristen Smith of a public library situated on the north side of Wellington Street in Toronto. The building is sliced into 5 parallel sections with 4 slabs of monolithic concrete structural walls. The slabs, as well as the walls of adjacent buildings, define linear slices of space, within which a variety of programming is defined. The program includes book stacks and smaller individual seating areas, characteristic of the traditional library, and large, multi-level, outdoor and indoor gathering places, characteristic of the contemporary library. Two large slices on opposite sides make up the traditional library and the contemporary library, while three central slices create the service core of the building. Punctures within the concrete slabs create moments of seating, shelving and connections between the slices of the library.

The library’s form is derived from the rhythm of surrounding buildings on Wellington Street. It takes the narrow proportions of solid and void and reverses them, creating a solid core in the center of the building and glazed “void” spaces on either side of this core. The walls of adjacent buildings can also be seen to act as “exterior walls” to the library’s alleyway patio space.

A dichotomy of materials exists between interior and exterior. A dark palette is used on the interior to compliment the industrial materiality of surrounding buildings. Lighter shades on the interior are used to illuminate and visually enlarge the small spaces of the library. Exterior walls are clad with darker parlex engineered wood panels while interor walls are clad with light maple panels. Concrete on the exterior is rugged while on the interior is polished and smooth. Glass pop-outs and weathered copper-lined windows rhythmically puncture the building envelope, bringing light in a views out to the landscaped patio below. The concrete absorbs heat from sunlight to incorporate passive heating strategies. Weathered copper adds pops of colour.

A cutout of the Eastern external wall of the library as well as windows and pop-outs emphasize connection to the alley, redefining it as a main access street and a gathering space.