Royal Ontario Museum

All angles and prismatic shapes, the "crystal" extension of the Royal Ontario Museum is a bold and unexpected statement

An architectural gem (quite literally) in Toronto reflects its natural inspiration (yes, a gem). Jagged, prismatic, pointy…the shards of this extension of the Royal Ontario Museum are a most mesmerizing shape as seen from across the street.

The view

Outside of the Intercontinental Hotel on Bloor St. West in Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighbourhood.

The building

The Royal Ontario Museum with its jaw-dropping extension (the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal) made up of five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that co-exist but are not attached to the original ROM building (bridges link the old and new structures, an apropos reflection of the museum’s mandate “… to build bridges of understanding and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures and precious natural environments”).

The inspiration

A sunset that seemed to be refracted through the gem-like prisms. Architect Daniel Libeskind was, in fact, inspired by the ROM’s gem and mineral collection, and his design became known as the “crystal” because of its crystalline shape. As Libeskind puts it:

Why should one expect the new addition to the ROM to be “business as usual”? Architecture in our time is no longer an introvert’s business. On the contrary, the creation of communicative, stunning and unexpected architecture signals a bold re-awakening of the civic life of the museum and the city.

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