Toronto’s boldest architectural block just got weirder

Toronto’s boldest architectural block just got weirder

Structures like the CN Tower, City Hall and Rogers Center remain some of Toronto’s most famous landmarks, but some of the city’s most avant-garde architectural statements can be found in the Dundas Street West building between McCaul and Beverley Streets.

One of Toronto’s most exciting buildings, home to the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) expansion and OCAD University’s divided, pillar-supported Sharp Center of Design from the late British architect Will Alsop, is set to grow with new additions planned for these two institutions.

OCAD U has been planning to expand its presence in the building since 2017, and a design for a new building rising above the corridor north of the Sharp Center was unveiled in 2020.

The proposed nine-storey, 55,000-square-foot expansion features a design from Los Angeles firm Morphosis, working with Toronto-based Teeple Architects and Indigenous-owned Two Row Architect, which has continued to evolve since its debut a few years ago.

Since the new OCAD U building was proposed at 100 McCall, neighboring AGO has announced its own expansion plans in 2023.

The planned modern and contemporary Danny Reese Gallery will add more architectural creativity to the building in the coming years, featuring design from local firm Diamond Schmitt, New York-based Selldorf Architects, and Two Row Architect.

The 40,000-square-foot addition, named in honor of a $35 million donation from Canada Goose Chairman and CEO Danny Rees, will bring five new floors of cultural space to the AGO.

Ocad before expanding to Toronto

A view of the two extensions facing north-east of Grange Park.

In mid-2023, the planning file associated with the new gallery addition was updated with additional renderings revealing the two additions together, while also noting updates to the design of the OCAD facility.

The letter submitted to the city by planners representing the AGO states, “The relationship between the proposed AGO addition and the adjacent OCAD property and the potential future OCAD addition has been studied in detail.”

Ocad before expanding to Toronto

A rendering of the proposed OCAD expansion and part of the AGO expansion.

In response to potential conflicts with the OCAD addition raised by city planners, the current plan for Dani Reiss Modern provided “design modifications that would allow windows to be modified or moved in the future if a future OCAD addition is constructed,” and to remove structural, electrical, or mechanical elements from the conflict area.

Recently, the AGO’s proposal received a $25 million investment from the federal government to support its goal of meeting carbon-neutral operating standards.

Together the two new buildings will continue the growth of the block with ambitious but still somewhat restrained designs that do their best to conform to the specific landmarks of the site.

(tags for translation)ocad

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