Doors Open Waterloo


Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

On September 19, individuals participating in Doors Open Waterloo Region were given the opportunity to visit 40 noteworthy buildings and sites, which are not usually open to the public.

Karl Kessler, one of the event coordinators, said Doors Open is a chance to see buildings that would otherwise be limited in access or closed to the public.

Each site chosen as a host for the event contains something interesting — this may include architecture, heritage or simply something neat going on inside which draws visitors in.

In past years, locations have usually received an average of 350 visitors — more popular sites acquiring close to 1,000 guests in one day — equating to almost 15,000 participants in total throughout all 40 sites.

In fact, Doors Open Waterloo is one of the largest events in the region as it compares to larger cities like Toronto, Ottawa and London in regards to number of participants and sites. The event provided Waterloo Region inhabitants a chance to celebrate architecture and heritage while receiving a behind-the-scenes look at many local buildings.

The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Centre for International Governance Innovation campus and Sun Life have often been popular sites in the past. Kessler also explained the importance of taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the local heritage and architecture.

“If we don’t really appreciate our architecture, and we don’t pause and take a moment to celebrate our buildings and study them and find out their stories, then we lose a lot of important buildings and we end up being careless in terms of what we build and how we treat our buildings.”

Those who participated in the event were not only exposed to unique architecture, but also to the stories attached to them. Kessler said buildings are connected to these stories, “because of people — because we use them and we inhabit them, and that’s what makes them really interesting.”

The large open house takes place across the province and has been running annually in Waterloo since 2003.

“Every year about half of our participating sites are brand new and they have never been [part of] Doors Open before,” said Kessler. “We like to freshen things up every year, there’s lots of places to see that haven’t been in the event yet.”

New to the Doors Open event this past year was the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. Kessler explained that the Auditorium would likely be a huge hit as people would be given behind-the-scenes tours which is not something the building typically offers. Another one of the 40 participating sites included Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre of Cold Regions and Water Science.

Tours of the facility included the research labs, rooftop greenhouse and a visitation of the art installation water movement, which emphasizes the shifting form of water.

Kessler also explained the region’s wide movement is also a community building exercise and is not only beneficial to the visitors — but the hosting sites as well:

“It helps people tell the stories of the places where they live and work …they look at their building in a new light and they love having the visitors in. If they didn’t appreciate their building already, then it certainly kindles a new found interest in their buildings.”

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