The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto Announces Major Expansion Project Led by Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt and Two Row Architect | New



Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario

In the wake of Selldorf Architects’ most recent museum upgrade, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has announced the selection of a team led by Annabelle Selldorf’s company to oversee its new AGO Global Contemporary expansion beginning in 2024.

Two Row Architects will join Diamond Schmitt on the project which will give the institution an extended footprint for the first time since its last Frank Gehry-designed expansion opened in fall 2008.

The museum has undergone a total of seven renovations since it first opened in 1900 and is now looking to add around 50,000 square feet of new galleries which would come in the form of “flexible volumes suited to the various mediums of contemporary art”.

AGO Director Stephan Jost also said “we want the work we show to reflect the city we serve” and that the expansion should meet the institution’s new goals for audience development and of community involvement. Plans call for the construction of a six-story tower along the southeast corner of the building overlooking Grange Park with sensitivities to the Gehry structure and the planned expansion of nearby OCAD University facilities by Morphosis.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Wladyslaw. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“The Gehry and the Alsop are big statements and very expressionistic,” Jost said. The Globe and Mail. “So I knew visual competition was the wrong way to go. This addition had to be super subtle.

Part of the expansion will focus on improving visitor orientation and aim to transform the AGO into one of the only net-zero certified cultural institutions in the world, regardless of size. Annabelle Selldorf said she believes the expansion has parallels to the recent San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art project and that the company will build on similar expansion efforts at the Frick Collection and the Neue Galerie to illuminate their design.

Image courtesy of Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“It’s very complex work, and we have to get our feet wet and understand the visitor experience,” she said. The Globe and Mail. “The architectural form will follow. I think great architecture leaves a quiet imprint in the memory of the visitor. Not the first thing – I hope they remember which art they look at first – but the two go together.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Larry Koester. (CC BY 2.0)

The next step would be the public review process which would conclude with a presentation of the concept for consideration by the AGO Board of Directors later in the year. Construction is expected to begin shortly thereafter pending Council approval.

“It’s going to be a fucking good piece of architecture,” Jost said confidently. “It won’t be the loudest building on the skyline, but it will be one of the best.”


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