We were always studying about the architecture history and thought about the link between the history and architecture. However, there was always different between the historical building and the modern one. I neither saw historical building nor modern, but it was the first time for me to see modern building explore from the historical one. The Royal Ontario Museum one of the buildings that attracted me whenever I passed the opposite street going to the University of Toronto when I was studying there, I always stood for a while to look painstakingly for it and think how it feels inside? Did the visitors notice the transaction between the different architecture styles? How did the designer combine two buildings of different time periods to make a building of the most famous buildings in the world of architecture?
From the first look to this building, the child inside me believes that this is a space object collided with the ground. The way of how it’s associated with the old building makes it look strange building. For others, the extension is known as the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, where they said its five intersecting volumes are reminiscent of crystals that inspired by the crystalline forms in the ROM’s mineralogy galleries.
The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal built in the heart of Toronto downtown, Canada where the profound relationship between traditional and innovation, between history and present, has been intensified. It is built as an extension for old existed museum (the Royal Ontario Museum). Designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind in 2002 and officially opened in Jun 2007.
Some pictures of the museum site
The decisive day came and the decision was made to visit the museum and discovered it myself. The main entrance from the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, where it leads you directly into a vast and not finite space that makes you feel there is no limit for it is. I was very impressed by the size of the place so I realized that my visit would be full of suspense. When I was walking around and enjoy the museum exhibits, moving from department to another and from level to level, I discover that I finished my visit without notice any difference between the two buildings. What was really surprised me it that despite my previous knowledge of the existence of two different buildings, I forgot that during my visit.
The entrance and the foyer
Michael Lee-Chin Crystal building consists of five crystals, two of them used for galleries intersection and it forms void that known by Spirit House. This intersection space consists of a giant atrium rising from the ground level to the fourth one and is broken up by bridges crossing it at different levels. This atrium forms a reflections space for the visitors and provides a lounge for the exhibitions.
One of the other crystals contains the Stair of Wonders that forms the vertical circulation and features exhibition vitrines at the landings, and the fifth one a restaurant. However, they keep the old one as it is.
The complexity of the project was how to integrate these two different buildings in a way to create a graceful transition from one form so the visitors do not notice the exist of two different buildings through their visit. The secret was not only into the structure of the building it was also into the way of how they divide the museum departments and how they display the exhibits. Where they use the new building to display the exhibits that related to the sciences, the animal world and the historical artifacts of some countries. In contrast, they keep the historic building to display the historical exhibits, the arts and the Royal Historical Furniture of Canada where the interior decoration has been used to serve the exhibit and in this way, you cannot feel any difference.
This museum proved that architecture is not just about the design and the construction of buildings but it means intelligence of making the design in line with its surrounding and be part of the site even if it was designed in a different time period.