Presented on these ten panels and model is a scheme for the Stage 3 expansion and renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The scheme accommodates the expanded programme area and the desires of Gallery Board and staff for a more open and dynamic centre for art, while expanding the brief to accommodate further modifications of the building's organization, form and relationship to the city. The scheme strikes a balance between gallery building as raw container for art and gallery building as a piece of art. Going to A.G.O. is an event, a special occasion, and the building should be imbused with a quality of space that distinguishes it from other urban, institutional buildings. The Art Gallery is an educational and exploratory tool for its staff and patrons, and the building itself becomes an examination of the nature of architecture, especially in the circulation areas between display spaces, where the architectural intent and drama can be most intense. Elements of light and shade, height and compression, rhythm and disjuncture are used to modulate the visitor's experience of the A.G.O., to give the visitor a sense of passage and sequence. This movement sense is reinforced in the circulation system by constant orientation to major interior points such as the existing Walker Court, the new Sculpture Court or to the outside; a quality absent from the A.G.O. presently and whose absence causes confusion and a sense of «sameness» to most of the Gallery interiors.
Two primary circulation concepts structure the new and renovated Gallery. One is based on an axial series of vaulted rooms on the centreline established by the 1925 Gallery, starting from the new front porch at Dundas Street, through the main stair hall, Walker Court and the new sculpture court. Opposed to this axis is a sequential movement pattern indicated not by volumes but by planes or "moving walls" which lead on Dundas Street from the ramped entrance walls under the vault through the splayed stair walls past the new video gallery and renovated Margaret Eaton Gallery, through to the cafe and members lounge area adjacent to the Grange. These walls have very different material properties, glass and metal opposed to stone and concrete.
Routes through the new Sculpture Court on both levels allow a visitor to explore the various exhibition spaces without doubling back. (And allow single galleries to be closed off for installation without disrupting the circulation routes). Likewise, some interventions take on the character of the "moving walls", such as the new walls which define a separate circulation path within the Zack's Galleries while not touching existing walls or ceiling.
Connection is made back to the city through the "large windows", which provide dramatic views of the gallery interior to passers-by as well. The large windows bring light to less sensitive areas such as the Porch or Sculpture Court and serve to modulate the street and park frontages. The facades project the openness and excitement of the gallery in an architectural style distinct form commercial or retail precedents. The facades and, especially, the entry sequence, give a sense of occasion to a visit; the ascent up the ramp, covered but outside, into the spectacular Porch; gradually separates the visitor from the city and prepares him or her for the special events and experience inside.
The Dundas Street elevation is crowned by the large vault. It starts as an open frame above the base of the ramp, directing the main entrance sequence from the east from whence the majority of pedestrians come. The solid vault continues over the galleries, finally forming a distinctive north-west corner at Dundas and Beverley Streets. It acts as a binding element for the new and old building segments along Dundas and reinforces the idea of the new North Wall being the proper, rather than added-on, entrance wall. Turning the corner, the vault end is the first in a varied series of new and old building elements down Beverley Street which terminates in the open framework of the restaurant entrance and terrace.
The minor interventions and renovations within the Gallery utilize this opposition of rooms and planes. As the centreline of the Walker Court is expanded to form the "institutional axis", so the concentric circulation rings of the 1923 Gallery are expanded to include the surrounding newer galleries.
On the south façade, the curved glass wall defers to Grange House and provides a spectacular outlook for Café and Members' lounge patrons to the park beyond while clearly marking the secondary , lower-ground floor entrance. This glass room could provide a second major entrance lobby from the south if in the future, security considerations permit it.
Internally, the variety of new, renovated and existing gallery spaces is enormous. They include:
- the series of low-ceilinged and distinctly defined display rooms which replace the rather amorphous Contemporary gallery on the first floor;
- the new addition to the Zack's Galleries to the north, a high-ceilinged exhibition space behind the large window on Dundas Street;
- the series of gallery space which partly occupy the space of the former offices, a combination of low ceiling and high vaulted display areas;
- the experimental video gallery housed in a difficult and "landlocked" interior area of the first floor, adjacent to the A/V and Media production areas;
- the Inuit display, placed in a translucent semi-vaulted gallery beside, appropriately, the remodelled Canadian Historical galleries;
- the new glazed Sculpture court, treated not as infill between A.G.O. and Grange, but as a formal and defined display area, with outlooks to the garden court and stained glass window of Grange House.
A feature of many of the galleries is the suspended translucent glass ceiling which acts as a "light tuner" by supporting task lighting, concealing ambient lighting of the gallery and incorporating daylight filters for those galleries with skylights.
A few other features bear noting.
- the new service corridor under the Sculpture Court allows the north and south halves of the basement to be divided into secured and unsecured zones, with no breaches as occurs presently.
- the café, restaurant and Member's Lounge, now grouped together, can share the same kitchen and menu, which, along with the sylvan view, vastly increases the amenity of the Member's Lounge. Additionally, it allows the north arches of the Walker Court on the second floor to be opened up provide views down into the court.
Many of the technical details of the display areas will be worked out in consultation with Gallery staff and administration. We would for instance like to include the latest user-sensitive lighting technology in gallery spaces to tailor the ambient viewing conditions for work displayed, weather, even the number of visitors.
The Stage 3 programme for the Art Gallery of Ontario is a complex and sensitive undertaking. What this scheme provides is a sound and exciting conceptual framework upon which the design development can take place.
Major Building Materials
- Masonry and Stucco Walls
- Metal Panel Clad gallery vault on steel structure at North Side
- Glass and steel vaulted gallery at South Side
- Drywall walls to all galleries and offices
- Hardwood floors, new and renovated gallery spaces except Sculpture Court, in Terazzo and Front Porch, also in terrazzo
- Areas of marble or glass walls in special areas of circulation zones
- Exposed concrete ceilings or drywall ceiling in gallery with suspended glass ceiling
- Reinforced Concrete structure except for vaulted structures and bridges which are steel structures
(From competitor's text)
Competition Critique by Stephen V. Irwin
This scheme is closely modelled on the layout of the original program and planning schematic for the Gallery. The strongly defined circulation lines which run counter to the existing axis of the buildings compromise several of the existing galleries. The creation of a 'Meieresque' addition in the Park appears to overwhelm The Grange and cuts off views from Beverley Street. It was felt that the overall image of the building was disjointed and appeared to delight in covering up as much of the existing building as possible, with a great range of materials and architectural styles. The interventions to the Moore Gallery appear to destroy one of the most successful parts of the present Gallery. The Dundas Street facade and entry sequence is awkward and unconvincing. The two-storey entrance porch eliminates a second-floor gallery on the northern facade of the building. The new vaulted gallery space indicates a curious series of triangular skylights which would seem to present some serious interior light control problems. Inside the glazed vault over the sculpture court, a second-floor connecting bridge is treated as a punctured wall and is set directly against the rear of the existing Grange House.
(From specialized magazine)
6 scanned / 6 viewable
- Photograph of Model
- Photograph of Model
- Photograph of Model