The launch of this project is made possible thanks to a $35-million gift from Dani Reiss
The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is led by Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect
TORONTO — Today, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and its architectural partners Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect, reveal initial designs for the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, the museum’s expansion project. The addition will increase the museum’s gallery space by 40,000 square feet, with at least 13 new galleries across five floors - increasing the AGO’s total space available to display art by 30%.
Launching this project is a monumental lead gift of $35 million from Dani Reiss. This generous donation is among the largest gifts in the AGO’s history. Dani is the Chairman and CEO of Canada Goose, member of the Order of Canada and an art collector. The size and timing of this gift will help the AGO move forward this expansion with confidence.
From the exterior, the expansion will quietly complement the AGO’s existing built environment, respecting the scale of the surrounding neighbourhood. The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery will sit one story above the AGO’s existing loading dock, nestled between the AGO and OCAD University. It will seamlessly connect to, and be accessed by, the AGO’s existing galleries from four locations, substantially improving visitor circulation throughout the museum.
This expansion will significantly increase gallery space for a growing collection of modern and contemporary art. Inside the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, at least 13 exhibition spaces of varying scale and ceiling height are being designed. These new column-free galleries will be highly functional and very flexible – dynamic enough to display the works of today’s great modern and contemporary artists, and adaptable to the needs of future generations of artists working across all media. Galleries are being designed to adjust to the needs of the program – as large open spaces, or easily divided into a series of more intimate galleries. Designed to encourage intimate encounters with art, the fluidity of these open spaces is enabled by a robust structural capacity, intended to make the installation of complex immersive artworks easier and more accessible.
“The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is more than an expansion project - it’s how we fulfill our mission to bring people together with art, propel global conversations that speak to the issues of our time, and reflect the diversity of Toronto, Ontario and Canada,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “In the past decade we’ve welcomed more than 20,000 artworks into the collection and now thanks to both a monumental lead gift from Dani Reiss and the vision of our architect partners, we’re set to display them in a thoughtful, dynamic, and truly beautiful space. I’d like to thank Jay Smith Co-Chair, Rupert Duchesne, President and Co-Chair and the entire AGO Board of Trustees for all the work they have undertaken to date. Like Toronto itself, the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is driven by both generosity and creativity.”
Initiated in 2022, the design of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is being informed by ongoing consultation with Indigenous leaders and communities, led by Two Row Architect. These conversations and others are instrumental in leading the team to adopt adaptability, accessibility, relevancy, zero carbon operating and inclusivity as their guiding principles. The AGO is grateful for the support of Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (Tkaronto’s Host Nation).
The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is being designed to operate without burning fossil fuel. The all-electric mechanical plant will use no operational carbon and create no emissions, while seeking CAGBC Zero Carbon Operating Building certification - making it one of a very small number of museum spaces to accomplish this. It will also be built to Passive House standards, for maximum heating and cooling efficiency.
This will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. The project is currently in the early stages of the municipal and public review process. Construction is expected to commence in 2024. Estimated construction development costs at this early stage is approximately $100-million. EllisDon is the project Construction Manager.
Donald Schmitt, Principal at Diamond Schmitt: “Diamond Schmitt is thrilled to partner with the AGO in creating an expansion that will host extraordinary collections and be a catalyst for global conversations about art reflecting the diversity of Toronto, and further the museum’s role as a cultural anchor of the city. Our goal for the design is to create meaningful opportunities for connection: with the Museum’s other monumental wings and galleries, with the surrounding environment, and above all, with the larger community. Net zero operations are the foundation of our design approach, ensuring that this space is highly flexible and responsive to the needs of both future generations of artists with boundless vision and our climate.”
Annabelle Selldorf, Principal at Selldorf Architects: “In the design of the new expansion, we were motivated to create something that would at once announce its presence in a strong and impactful way, relating to and respecting the adjacent Gehry building, Grange Park and OCAD University urban context as it simultaneously almost blends into the sky depending on the changing light and climate. The interior provides beautiful well-proportioned flexible galleries that will welcome the public and allow them to experience the AGO’s far-ranging collection in new and engaging ways. Integrated with the existing museum, the addition is conceived to serve the art and the community alike.”
Brian Porter, Principal at Two Row Architect: “The Art Gallery of Ontario is a worldwide leader in the field of engaging and representing Indigenous voices. As demonstrated in their book entitled Moving the Museum, they have been committed to reconciliation for many, many years. We saw the expansion as an opportunity to extend the conversation into the very architecture of the place. The team of architects has created a welcoming addition where trust can be built, and relationships nurtured. The design integrates craft, cultural narratives, and the values of Indigenous peoples that can contribute to a curriculum of learning, sharing, healing, and celebrating. This is achieved through three key indigenous values: Adaptability, Biophilia and Kinship. The AGO addition includes open, adaptable areas to serve an evolving need to highlight Indigenous artists and host community gatherings. There are vantage points and an outdoor terrace to access the sky, stars, water, and land to support ceremonies and educational land-based learning. The spaces promote intimate connections between occupants, nature, and art while allowing for the cross-pollination of ideas, culture, and values.”
Dani Reiss, C.M., OOnt, Chairman & CEO Canada Goose: “Contemporary art is an observation of our time; the conversations, issues and triumphs of our generation – a reflection of humanity. I’m proud to support the AGO in their purpose to bring people together through art, especially art that inherently inspires such important discussion. Toronto is a world-class city, and this new gallery further establishes Toronto and Canada as a leader in celebrating modern & contemporary art.”
ABOUT DIAMOND SCHMITT ARCHITECTS
Diamond Schmitt is a global architecture firm that designs transformative, purpose-driven, and highly sustainable buildings. Delivering innovative architecture that empowers people, communities, and organizations to harness change for the greater public good, Diamond Schmitt employs a collaborative research process to create architecture that is known for exceptional performance and meticulous craftsmanship. Current and recent arts and culture spaces recognized for their versatility of space and striking design include David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, Buddy Holly Hall in Lubbock, the National Arts Centre and the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver and La Maison Symphonique de Montréal. Diamond Schmitt has offices in Toronto, Vancouver and New York. dsai.ca
ABOUT SELLDORF ARCHITECTS
Selldorf Architects is a 70-person international architectural design practice founded by Annabelle Selldorf in New York City in 1988. The firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. Since its inception, the firm’s design ethos has been deeply rooted in the principles of humanism. Selldorf Architects has particular expertise in the needs of art spaces and cultural projects, having completed numerous museums, art foundations and galleries, as well as exhibitions, and artists’ studios. Current and cultural clients include The Frick Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Gallery London, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Luma Arles, Clark Art Institute, and Neue Galerie New York. In addition, the firm has completed galleries for David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Gladstone Gallery, among others, and designed exhibitions for the Jewish Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, Frieze Masters, Gagosian and the Venice Art Biennale. selldorf.com
ABOUT TWO ROW ARCHITECT
Two Row Architect (TRA) operates as a sole proprietorship under the direction of Brian Porter (Oneida Nation) with a main office located on the Six Nations of the Grand River territory and a satellite office located in Toronto. Since its inception in 1992, the firm has focused on providing services to projects for Indigenous clients as well as those that have incorporated Indigenous cultural ideologies and teachings manifested in architectural form. TRA assists in promoting an architectural approach that realizes the meshing of local traditional knowledge (Indigenous arts/crafts/design) with current building technology. The firm also promotes the creative and environmentally conscious use of building materials. Over the last thirty years, TRA has worked with the majority of Indigenous Groups and organizations throughout Ontario on multiple projects. TRA has also worked with multiple post-secondary institutions throughout Canada including projects such as The National Centre of Indigenous Laws, University of Victoria and the Indigenous Student Centre at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus, Toronto. TRA’s projects have also extended south of the border with the Seneca Allegany Administration Building in Salamanca, New York and the Cultural Center Feasibility Study for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. tworow.com
ABOUT THE AGO
Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 120,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists to European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. The AGO is committed to being welcoming and accessible: admission is free for anyone under 25 years, and anyone can purchase an annual pass for $35. In 2022, the AGO began the design phase of an expansion project intended to increase exhibition space for the museum’s growing modern and contemporary collection. When construction begins in 2024, it will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. Visit AGO.ca to learn more.
The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.
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