Selldorf Architects leads the seventh expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt and Two Row Architect have released designs for a gallery to be added to the building complex at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
The design includes an entirely new building atop a pre-existing parking lot, adjacent to the 2008 Frank Gehry-designed expansion.
Called the Danny Rees Modern and Contemporary Gallery, the extension will consist of a rectangular volume of five floors oriented toward a park in the center of the complex.
New York-based studio Selldorf Architects was appointed as the design architect to carry out the design of the structure alongside local studios Diamond Schmitt (principal architect) and Two Row Architect. This project marks the seventh time the Art Gallery of Ontario has been expanded since it first opened in 1900.
“In designing the new extension, we had the drive to create something that would immediately announce its presence in a strong and impactful way, in relation to and respecting the neighboring Gehry Building, Grange Park and the urban context of OCAD University because it blends together at almost the same time,” said Annabelle Selldorf, principal at Selldorf Architects. “The design takes to the sky depending on the changing light and climate,” she says.
“Integrated with the existing museum, the addition is designed to serve both art and the community.”
The facade will have a reflective surface made up of small brick-like panels that complement the adjacent Gehry Building while still being a distinctive feature of the campus.
The new building will expand the museum’s exhibition space by adding 13 new galleries and increasing the total space used to display artwork by 30 percent.
Two Row Architect was selected to lead “ongoing consultation with Indigenous leaders and communities” in order to improve the building’s adaptability, relevance and inclusion.
This would broaden the conversation about reconciliation — the process of political accountability that began between the Canadian government and First Nations — to include “the very architecture of place,” said Brian Porter, director of the Tu Rho School.
“The design integrates crafts, cultural narratives and indigenous values that can contribute to an approach of learning, sharing, healing and celebration,” Porter said.
“This is achieved through three key indigenous values: adaptability, biophilia, and kinship,” he continued.
“The addition of the AGO includes open, adaptable areas to serve the evolving need to highlight Indigenous artists and host community gatherings.”
Examples of these principles include the inclusion of “lookout points” and terraces that connect the building to the environment and create spaces for community gathering.
The AGO was first established in 1900 with a design that included an early 19th-century neoclassical mansion called Grange Hall, which still stands on the campus.
A number of other renovations have been carried out in the years since, including interventions by KPMB Architects and Hariri Pontarini Architects.
Selldorf Architects was founded in 1988 and is also currently planning a redesign of the Sainsbury’s Pavilion at the National Gallery in London.