Moriyama Teshima Architects and Toronto politicians slam Ontario Science Centre’s closure and say it can be saved

Geoffrey Hinton, a renowned science professor at the University of Toronto, pledged $1 million this week in order to save the Ontario Science Centre (OSC)—the late architect Raymond Moriyama’s first built work from 1969. The philanthropic offering by the “Godfather of AI” comes after a recent decision to permanently close the beloved Brutalist building.

The building is operated by the Province of Ontario, but the city of Toronto owns the land which it leases to OSC. Last year, Ontario Premier Doug Ford rolled out plans to demolish the structure at 770 Don Mills Road. Ford said he wanted to move OSC to a temporary location at Ontario Place until a new building for the institution opened on the same site in east Toronto in 2028.

On June 21, Ontario’s Ministry of Infrastructure made good on Ford’s plan when it announced that the Brutalist building will be permanently closed, sparking outrage. Employees from Moriyama Teshima Architects (MTA) described the decision as a “shock” in a public statement they issued on LinkedIn shortly after. Brian Rudy, a partner at MTA, called it a “political move.” Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said the closure was “heartbreaking.”

The 57-year-old building’s roof is compromised and at risk of collapse, officials said, and it must be closed before the next snowfall to keep visitors safe. Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure’s Kinga Surma cited a recent engineering report by Rimkus Consulting that said as much.

But staffers at Moriyama Teshima Architects and Toronto politicians disagree, strongly. In its statement, MTA noted that the Rimkus Consulting report never said the building couldn’t be saved. “The Rimkus engineering report makes it clear that closing the OSC is not a necessity,” MTA said.

MTA has pledged to offer pro bono services to save the building: “Repairs are needed, but on a manageable scale and with potentially minimal impact on the public experience of the building,” the statement reads. “We offer our architectural services pro bono to the Government of Ontario to realize the necessary roof repairs and we encourage the structural and building science community to similarly offer pro bono services for this scope to accomplish the recommended repairs immediately.”

And the opposition seems to be working. On June 27, one week after Surma announced the permanent closure, Toronto city councilors adjourned and passed a motion to take over OSC’s operations from Ontario’s Provincial Government. The motion was sponsored by Toronto Councilor Josh Matlow.

“What this motion does is ask for our objective city staff to give a reality check on the Ford government’s business case and their obligation to us, the landholder, so that we are made right, and the Science Centre is preserved,” Councilor Matlow said.

“We’re sending a very clear message to Doug Ford that he can’t make a unilateral decision,” Matlow continued. “The community wants to be engaged in conversations around the future of the Science Centre.”

Matlow later told The Globe and Mail: “The public is horrified. It’s fair to say anyone who has a kid or who has been a kid has personal memories here. It’s also a heritage masterpiece.”

Should the plan proceed, Matlow said he may launch an investigation into the snap closure which many allege has been fueled by “backroom deals.”

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