Ontario, CA

Selldorf Architects is working with Diamond Schmitt and Two Row Architect on a major expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario to display their growing collection of global modern and contemporary art. The AGO is situated in Toronto’s Grange Park neighborhood and the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery will be the seventh expansion it has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. The project is currently in the early stages of the municipal and public review process with construction expected to commence in 2024.

Designed to be inclusive and accessible, the expansion will complement the AGO’s surrounding built environment, respecting the scale of the neighborhood. The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery will sit one story above the AGO’s current loading dock on the north-east corner of the building, nestled between the AGO and the Ontario College of Art and Design University. It will seamlessly connect to, and be accessed by, a number of galleries in the AGO’s existing buildings from four locations, substantially improving visitor circulation throughout the entire museum.

Inside the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, at least 13 exhibition spaces of varying scale and ceiling height will provide AGO with a 30% increase in gallery space. 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 will 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, which will make the installation of complex immersive artworks easier and more accessible.

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 the team’s adoption of adaptability, accessibility, relevancy, zero carbon operating and inclusivity as their guiding principles.

AGO’s Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is being designed to operate without burning fossil fuel. The all-electric mechanical plant will not use operational carbon or create emissions. The project will be 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.

(Credits: Exterior renderings by Play-Time, courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect. Interior rendering courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects, and Two Row Architect.)