The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has unveiled plans for a major expansion that will give Toronto an additional 40,000 square feet of cultural space to enjoy across five floors — all of them named in honour of Canada Goose chairman and CEO Dani Reiss.
“This expansion will significantly increase gallery space for a growing collection of modern and contemporary art,” announced the AGO on Thursday of its forthcoming Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, which will be built to complement the existing museum while “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,” says the art museum.
“It will seamlessly connect to, and be accessed by, the AGO’s existing galleries from four locations, substantially improving visitor circulation throughout the museum.”
The AGO credits a $35 million donation from Reiss — one of the largest in the organization’s history — for helping to make the project possible.
“Dani is the Chairman and CEO of Canada Goose, member of the Order of Canada and an art collector,” writes the AGO of the 49-year-old Canadian outerwear tycoon.
“The size and timing of this gift will help the AGO move forward this expansion with confidence.”
To illustrate what the facility at 317 Dundas St. W. might look like after its next expansion, the AGO released four initial design renderings from its architectural partners, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect.
“Inside the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, at least 13 exhibition spaces of varying scale and ceiling height are being designed,” reads a press release announcing the expansion.
“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.”
The AGO says its new galleries are being designed as large spaces that can be easily divided to adjust to the needs of programming, and that the entire wing will run without burning any fossil fuels.
“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,” notes the museum.
“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.”
Construction is slated to begin sometime in early 2024, according to the AGO, with early development costs pegged at approximately $100 million. Designs are subject to change, as the project is only now in the early stages of municipal and public reviews.
When it does get cracking, this will mark the seventh expansion to the Art Gallery of Ontario since the organization was founded more than 120 years ago.
Toronto’s very own Frank Gehry designed what might be the most-notable of these expansions, built in 2004 under the project name “Transformation AGO.” It was the famed architect’s first-ever project in his home nation of Canada.
“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,” said Reiss on Thursday of his namesake expansion.
“Toronto is a world-class city, and this new gallery further establishes Toronto and Canada as a leader in celebrating modern & contemporary art.”
Rendering by Play-Time, courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect