On-Site Magazine

AGO to add 40,000 square feet

By Adam Freill   

Commercial Construction

EllisDon to lead construction team as Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario gets set to undertake a massive expansion.

Aerial view of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery looking northwest. (Rendering by Play-Time, courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect.)

The initial designs have been released for the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), a massive expansion project set to increase the museum’s gallery space by 40,000 square feet.

The downtown Toronto project will increase the AGO’s total available space to display art by 30 per cent adding at least 13 new galleries across five floors. The design of the addition has been the work of architectural partners Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect.

The project is being made possible through a lead gift of $35 million from Dani Reiss, the chairman and CEO of Canada Goose.

From the exterior, the expansion will quietly complement the AGO’s existing built environment, 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. 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 Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is more than an expansion project — it’s how we fulfill our mission to bring people together with art, propel global conversations that speak to the issues of our time, and reflect the diversity of Toronto, Ontario and Canada,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “In the past decade we’ve welcomed more than 20,000 artworks into the collection and now thanks to both a monumental lead gift from Dani Reiss and the vision of our architect partners, we’re set to display them in a thoughtful, dynamic, and truly beautiful space.”

“Diamond Schmitt is thrilled to partner with the AGO in creating an expansion that will host extraordinary collections and be a catalyst for global conversations about art reflecting the diversity of Toronto, and further the museum’s role as a cultural anchor of the city,” stated Don Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt. “Net zero operations are the foundation of our design approach, ensuring that this space is highly flexible and responsive to the needs of both future generations of artists with boundless vision and our climate.”

Initiated in 2022, 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.

The addition will feature an all-electric mechanical plant that uses no operational carbon and creates no emissions. The AGO plans to seek CAGBC Zero Carbon Operating Building certification, which would make 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.

This will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900 and is currently in the early stages of the municipal and public review process. Construction is expected to commence in 2024, with EllisDon serving as the project construction manager.




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