AGO GLOBAL CONTEMPORARY
Location Toronto, Ontario
Client Art Gallery of Ontario
Completion In Progress
Size 50,000 sf
Team Selldorf Architects, Diamond Schmitt
The design of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Modern & Contemporary Wing will significantly expand the museum’s exhibition space for its growing modern and contemporary collection. This new wing will expand the AGO’s ability to lead global conversations about art from Toronto through extraordinary programs, reflecting the cultures and people who live in the city. Designed to be inclusive and accessible, the new Global Contemporary will seamlessly connect to the AGO’s existing buildings. It will comprise 60,000 gross square feet, adding 40,000 square feet of new galleries, increasing the AGO’s total space available to display art by 35 percent.
Designed with flexibility as a core underlying principle, the Modern & Contemporary’s new column-free galleries will be bright, spacious, and equipped with state-of-the art technology throughout. Varying ceiling heights, gallery footprints, and convertible configurations will prompt a range of curatorial possibilities. The galleries will be flexible and dynamic, adapting to serve the needs of the next generation of artists working across disciplines. A new south-facing terrace will offer stunning views of the Toronto skyline, while serving as an outdoor sculpture gallery and event space, allowing for new kinds of artistic and community engagement at the museum.
Principles of indigeneity are also at the heart of the design approach, particularly in ensuring adaptability, accessibility, inclusivity, meaningful thresholds, and a welcoming environment that feels connected to Mother Earth. This can be seen in physical elements such as the curved gallery spaces on floors four through six which echo natural forms, medicinal and ceremonial plantings on the terrace, and the outdoor learning opportunities that it will enable. Another key tenet of indigeneity is the prioritization of the cardinal directions, which will be present facing north to Dundas Street, south on the terrace facing Grange Park, east through a dramatic window looking onto OCAD University, and west within the main staircase which establishes a vertical connection between the skyworld and the underworld.
By connecting to the AGO’s existing buildings designed by Frank Gehry and Darling and Pearson Architects, the Modern & Contemporary creates a complete circulation loop and new connection points between the museum’s various buildings, solving dead ends and offering increased continuity between epochs of art. From the exterior, the proportions of the new Wing will respect the scale of the surrounding neighborhood.
The Modern & Contemporary is being designed to achieve net-zero carbon operations, which if successful, would make the Modern & Contemporary one of the only museum spaces in the world to accomplish this. Low-carbon materials will be used throughout, and the overall design will ensure optimal efficiency.
Two Row joined the project team in the role of Indigenous architect.