Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt and Two Row Architect selected to lead AGO Global Contemporary design development

AGO plans expansion to house growing collection of global modern and contemporary art

TORONTO — Following a rigorous selection process, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) today announces that it has contracted Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt and Two Row Architect to lead the design phase of AGO Global Contemporary, the museum’s proposed expansion project. Each a recognized leader in the creation of dynamic cultural spaces, the three architects will work as a team to design an expansion that will display the museum’s growing collection of global modern and contemporary art. Annabelle Selldorf, of Selldorf Architects will lead the design, in collaboration with Toronto-based Don Schmitt of Diamond Schmitt and Brian Porter of Six Nations of the Grand River’s Two Row Architect as Indigenous architect.

A project with global impact requires an international perspective, grounded in this land and this city,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “AGO Global Contemporary is poised to launch the museum as a force in the international art world – and this team will get us there. It’s a group that is unmatched in its experience and caliber, and reflective of AGO’s Global Contemporary vision. Selldorf Architects is a leader in museum design, having recently completed the Luma Arles in France, and currently working on The Frick Collection in New York. Just last year, Two Row Architect’s Fort Severn Resilient Duplex project was awarded the prize for social equity design. And Diamond Schmitt is putting Toronto on the world stage with David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City and the Ryerson Image Centre here at home. I am confident that this team of architects will produce an exceptional expansion for our museum.”

AGO Global Contemporary will increase exhibition space for the museum’s growing modern and contemporary collection, and present the museum with the opportunity to deliver exhibitions and programming that lead global conversations about art. The proposed building will be approximately 50,000 gross square feet for Modern and Contemporary art at the AGO. This will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. The most recent was the successful Transformation AGO expansion project, designed by Gehry International Architects, Inc.

A goal of this proposed expansion project is to achieve Net Zero Carbon certification, which if successful, would make the addition one of only a few museum spaces globally to accomplish this. The appointment of an architecture and design team is the first step for the project that will undergo a municipal and public review process and final AGO Board of Trustees approval. A public presentation of a concept is anticipated later this year.

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 Buddy Holly Hall in Lubbock, the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, The National Arts Centre and Ingenium Centre in Ottawa, La Maison Symphonique de Montréal­, and David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. Diamond Schmitt has offices in New York, Toronto, and Vancouver.

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 recent clients include The Frick Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery London, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Luma Arles, the Clark Art Institute, and Neue Galerie New York. In addition, the firm has completed numerous galleries for David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Gladstone Gallery, among others, and designed exhibitions for the Whitney Museum, High Museum, Corning Museum, Frieze Masters, Gagosian Gallery and Venice Art Biennale.

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 Allegany Administration Building in Salamanca, New York and the Cultural Center Feasibility Study for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

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 and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. In 2019, the AGO launched a bold new initiative designed to make the museum even more welcoming and accessible with the introduction of free admission for anyone 25 years and under and a $35 annual pass. Visit to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. 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.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson; Manager, Public Relations
[email protected]

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