Massey Hall Revamp Now Includes Two New Live Venues: Photos

Massey Hall
Courtesy of Massey Hall

Rendering of the exterior of Massey Hall.

As part of Massey Hall's 7-year $135 million ($107M USD) revitalization, the 123-year-old Toronto concert venue, which has hosted shows by George Gershwin, Glenn Gould and Luciano Pavarotti to U2, Bryan Adams, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, will receive a state-of-the-art retractable seating system, along with two new small performance venues.

The auditorium, which has a capacity of 2765 for the floor, balcony and upper "gallery" combined, will have the ability to retain its classic seating configuration "with greater comfort," but will also retract to allow for general admission on the floor.  A raised parterre seating section will be built around the perimeter of floor.

The additional venues will be "a more intimate space" in the expanded Centuries Bar & Lounge on the lower level of Massey Hall, which currently holds 175 people, and a 500-capacity space on the fourth floor of a brand new seven-story tower connected to the south end of the building.

"We are extremely proud and excited to share these new Massey Hall Revitalization details," said Deane Cameron, president and CEO of The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. "With these improvements, our goal is to keep the original inspiration of Hart Massey alive by continuing to operate as an eternal gift for the people of Toronto and making the hall more accessible for patrons and artists alike."

Rendering of the interior of Massey Hall.Courtesy of Massey Hall

Massey Hall was gifted by the Massey Family to the city in 1894. Businessman and philanthropist Hart Almerrin Massey died two years later at age 72.

As previously announced, the south tower will also include artist dressing rooms, the venue's first modern loading dock, and additional technical capacities for larger, more complex touring productions.  There will also be much-needed additional washrooms (plus food & beverage concessions) on every level "instead of currently having to trek down three or four stairwells to the auditorium basement," it states in the press release.

Toronto's KPMB Architects -- whose designs includes the Royal Conservatory and Koerner Hall, TIFF Lightbox, National Ballet School, Gardiner Museum and Young Centre -- have just released initial renderings.

"We will retain the qualities that make Massey Hall such a unique and vibrant performance space while complementing this treasured heritage venue with new spaces that will extend the role of the hall as a creative cultural hub," design lead and founding partner Marianne McKenna said in a statement. "The revitalized Massey Hall will offer educational opportunities and additional performance venues to host events and support new Canadian talent well into the future."

On a cool note, during the early phase of the revitalization, the 100 original stained glass windows -- 124 years old -- located on all four levels of the auditorium were uncovered after being boarded up for over a century and are being restored by a team of experts, led by Sharon Vattay, architectural historian with Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects.


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