Saturday, February 17, 2024

Undercover Allan Gardens Conservatory

The Palm House portion of Allan Gardens is a multi-domed greenhouse, pictured above in 2018, attached to four other greenhouses, located in a large park taking up almost a full city block in downtown Toronto. This heritage structure is usually open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm, and conveniently includes public bathrooms and free admission however, beginning in late 2022 the city began an upgrade to the building that required it to be shut down to the public to facilitate construction work that should last until May of 2024.
Palm House under cover

As work includes removing and replacing the glass panels they had to put up scaffolding and install a protective enclosure to protect the building and upgrades during the work. So if you didn't realize the interesting greenhouse was there you wouldn't know it now that it is covered up.

The other greenhouses are open and portable toilets have been placed outside for public use. You can still see the Arid House, the Tropical House, the Orchid and Bromelied House and the Temperate Show House with a Koi Pond. Recent lineups for a plant sale called the Hungry for Love: Carnivorous Plant Sale show how popular this site is and additional plant and seed sale days are planned in 2024.
A shovel "pine cone" art installation along the back of the greenhouse

From the City's website, "Allan Gardens is a park and an indoor botanical garden with six greenhouses comprising over 16,000 square feet. The indoor conservatory features colourful plants and flowers from around the world. Seasonal plants supplement the permanent plant collection of botanical importance since 1858. The conservatory boasts the "Palm House" (1909) modelled after similar structures in the United States and England."

From project architects discussing the construction work, "Allan Gardens Conservatory is a heritage landmark in one of Toronto’s oldest parks, established in 1858. Consisting of six greenhouses, thecast iron and glass domed Palm House, built in 1910, is one of the oldest such structures in North America and the centrepiece of the historic complex. This project involves the complete interior renovation of the existing administration building, plus a 720 sq.ft. addition. The new and retrofitted spaces will house public washrooms and offices for facility staff. The public washroom facilities are designed as a suite of fully accessible, single occupant rooms, including an AODA compliant washroom.

The addition is conceived as a translucent volume of glass and stainless steel which will reflect the landscape of the park and complement the architecture of the of the main conservatory buildings. To improve the relationship between built form and open park space, a glazed access corridor spans the east facade of the existing Administration building. This corridor allows indoor/outdoor views and brings activity and movement to that area of the park, enhancing public safety."
An indigenous campsite featuring teepees and ceremonial Sacred Fires in the park. Most of the other tent encampments, described as a shantytown by the Toronto Sun, have left the site
Some of the buildings surrounding the park

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