Place #21: 401 Richmond

This weekend was Doors Open Toronto, a weekend where places around the city open their doors to the public. Most are buildings that are not otherwise accessible to the public, or you can go to areas within public buildings you wouldn’t normally be able to go. There were over 150 locations that participated. Emily and I made it to 6 together over the two days. And out of them all, 401 Richmond was probably my favourite.

Place #21: 401 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

401 Richmond is an old industrial building that has been repurposed into an arts and culture hub. Most of the building is offices, studios, and other small areas that people use for one purpose or another.

The reason it was my top pick this week (and also why I wanted to go in the first place) was because of its rooftop garden. What I didn’t expect was for there to be an elevated courtyard with dozens of leafy plants and brick walls covered with ivy. It was a perfect little oasis in the middle of the city. If you looked up, all you could see was blue sky. Add some patio furniture and you have got yourself a great little hang out spot. There was also an iron staircase to get to the higher levels which just added to the whole look and feel.

The building is rectangular for the first couple floors, and then the upper floors are roughly an elongated ‘U’ shape (of which the courtyard is in the center). But in between the two ends of the building, there’s a wooden and glass bridge connecting these upper floors. The whole thing was basically my ideal vibe and my future dream living situation.

The actual rooftop garden was also very nice. I could imagine eating my lunches there everyday.

Other new places:

  • Canada Life Building, where we went up to the 17th floor observatory deck which is only open two days a year: yesterday and today
  • Court of Appeal, which had a very nice self-guided tour and you had the opportunity to sit in the judge’s seat in courtrooms
  • Old City Hall, a less impressive tour, if you can even call it that. More like facts in random places. About radiators and doorknobs.
  • Mackenzie House, the last house of William Lyon Mackenzie. He printed a weekly newspaper because that was how long it took his workers to arrange moveable type for a one page newspaper

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