The Aga Khan Museum, the first museum in North America dedicated to Islamic arts and cultures, is one component of a two-building complex an important location 15 minutes north of downtown Toronto.
Across from the Museum is the Ismaili Centre Toronto, designed by renowned architect Charles Correa. The Centre incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and for spiritual reflection. The entire complex consist of a new prayer hall and a formal Islamic garden.
Its crystalline frosted glass dome roof, which marks the highest point of the 6.8-hectare site, is mirrored in the five granite-lined pools of the formal gardens — designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic — which are part of a landscaped park. The Aga Khan Park connects the Centre with the Museum and provides a place equally suited to tranquil reflection and dynamic programming.
The program consists of four primary functions: museum, auditorium, education, and restaurant organized around a central courtyard, which will act as the heart of the building and will integrate the differing functions into a cohesive whole while allowing each space to maintain its independence, privacy, and character.
In designing the Aga Khan Museum, Fumihiko Maki, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, used light as his inspiration. He ensured not only that light is ever-present in the building, but that, depending on the time of day or season, light will animate the building in myriad ways: throwing patterns on the exterior walls of Brazilian granite, enhancing interior spaces, or illuminating the open-roofed courtyard.
The building’s compact footprint — 81 metres long and 54 metres wide — contains an impressive variety of spaces, including two exhibition galleries, areas for art conservation and storage, a 350-seat theatre, and two classrooms. Within an unmistakably contemporary design, Maki incorporates historical elements originating in Islamic cultures, building bridges between eras as well as civilizations.
The Museum will include galleries, exhibition spaces, classrooms, a reference library and a state-of-theart auditorium. In these spaces the Museum will invite the public to experience the living traditions of Muslim societies and to learn about their artistic and cultural practices.
The Aga Khan Museum has partnered with leading global institutions, such as the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, to advance scholarship, create exhibitions and engage in promoting the understanding and appreciation of the beauty of the arts of the Islamic world.
The collection’s paintings, ceramics, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, medical and scientific texts, tiles and musical instruments reflect the historic, geographic and cultural diversity of Muslim societies from Spain in the West to China in the East.
Utilizing a series of natural materials with differing light reflecting properties, the building will act as an ever-changing canvas for the display and accentuation of light. In this regard, the building has been envisioned as a kind of precious stone, which can exhibit reflectivity, color variations, translucency, and a visual mystery. Source by Maki Associates.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Architect: Maki Associates
Architect of Record: Moriyama & Teshima Architects
Structural System: Reinforced Concrete, Steel
Structural Engineer: Halcrow Yolles
Mechanical / Electrical Engineer: The Mitchell Partnership / Crossey Engineering
Number of Floors: 1 Basement + 2 Stories
Site Area: 70,000 m2
Building Area: 4,000 m2
Total Floor Area: 11,600 m2
Photographs: Tom Alban, Gary Otte