December 2020

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | 69 Massey Hall Revitalization R EN D ER I N GS CO U RT E SY K P M B A RC H I T EC T S MASSEY HALL REVITALIZATION by ROBIN BRUNET I ts design is revered and count- less luminaries have strode onto its stage over the past 125 years, but even at 2,500 seats, the real appeal of Toronto's Massey Hall over the genera- tions has been its unique intimacy. So when the opportunity came in 2014 to develop 4,804 square feet of land along the south wall of the facil- ity, thus kicking off an extensive upgrade and renovation project, the exterior and interior revitalization of Massey Hall had to be planned and conducted with painstaking care. Phase one of the project began in 2015 with EllisDon Corporation's demolition of the Albert Building that was adjacent to the Hall's south wall, to make way for the foundation of a new seven-storey tower that would accommodate another Massey per- formance hall and bar. A two-storey basement was constructed to serve as the foundation for the tower and to accommodate a first-ever back of house and loading dock, backstage and artist space, plus technical and production facilities. Grant Troop, Massey Hall's direc- tor of operations, said at the time, "Everything will be completely renewed through the south tower addition. In the existing Hall itself, it's really a select restoration of the Hall to protect the auditorium environment, refresh it, reseat it, provide new, more flexible seating options, create better safety egress and access for patrons, and provide more facilities for them, more washrooms, more lounge and circulation spaces." KPMB Architects, along with heri- tage specialists Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects, spent five years considering the alterations to the original interior. The resulting Conservation Plan became the guid- ing document for all site work, which commenced after the closing of the Hall in July of 2018. "The restoration of the Hall was followed a few months later by the construction of the tower addition," says Graham Baxter, senior associate at KPMB. New elements of the restoration included the addition of 600 seats on movable rails that could create a gen- eral admission area on the main floor – whose perimeter will be raised to improve sightlines. Key heritage-character defining features were earmarked for restora- tion, such as masonry, brickwork, and metalwork, the ornate plaster ceil- ing, and 100 stained glass windows that for 70 years had been covered by ply wood (the latter were carefully removed and restored by EGD Glass and Vitreous Glassworks). The arched plaster ceiling would become a visual highlight of the resto- ration: an elaborate scaffolding system was erected for workers to remove a wire mesh system that had been installed in the 1960s to contain the crumbling plaster. Beneath the mesh, over 1,100 stalactite-like shapes lining the arches needed to be recast, and the entire surface required careful cleaning, patching, consolidating, and repainting Baxter says of the new tower, "Instead of trying to mimic the heritage elements of the hall, we designed the tower as a simple rect- angular form that would complement the heritage Hall." To connect the Hall with the tower, Entuitive designed the structure of the passerelles to replace old fire stairs. They were hung by EllisDon from new steel trusses and bear on exist- ing masonry walls, linking the Hall's second and third balcony levels to the new patron amenities in the tower. "The passerelles, especially to the east, are composed of a structural glazed envelope system supported by a sec- ondary structure concealed in the hall's attic," says Baxter. EllisDon also built new elevators and bathrooms to service every level of Massey Hall (the old bathrooms were located in the basement). A full upgrade of audio and lighting technol- ogy, new electrical, and a new HVAC system, security and IT were vital if largely unseen elements of the revi- talization project, and the acoustic upgrades were so calibrated in detail that even the bottoms of the new seats were perforated to trap some of the sound in the cushions. In November, scaffolding was removed from the hall's exterior. Refinished doors that more closely resemble how they originally appeared plus a restored late 1800s stone sign bearing the name Massey Music Hall gave the public a sneak peak at the revitalization progress to date. Baxter says, "The tower is being clad and close to weather tight, and the restoration is moving along nicely. We've kept the soul of this remarkable building alive, while vastly improv- ing flow and accessibility, along with acoustics. When the hall eventually reopens, guests will be blown away by what they see and hear." A LOCATION 178 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario OWNER /DEVELOPER The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall PROJECT MANAGER Turner & Townsend ARCHITECT KPMB Architects HERITAGE ARCHITECT Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects GENER AL CONTR ACTOR EllisDon Corporation Inc. STRUCTUR AL CONSULTANT Entuitive MECHANICAL CONSULTANT The Mitchell Partnership Inc. ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Crossey Engineering Ltd. THEATRE PL ANNING Charcoalblue AUDIO VISUAL Engineering Harmonics ACOUSTIC CONSULTANT Sound Space Vision ARCHITECTUR AL LIGHTING Martin Conboy Lighting Design L ANDSCAPE ARCHITECT NAK Design Strategies TOTAL SIZE 60,000 square feet (renovation) 72,000 square feet (addition) TOTAL COST $135 million 10:58 AM 7:35 AM

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