October 31, 2012
by Canadian Architect
Thirty-three years of a nomadic and unstable existence finally come to an end as the Theatre Centre finds a permanent home in the former Carnegie Library at 1115 Queen Street West in Toronto.
The company recently kicked off a year-long, $6.2-million renovation that will transform the 100-year-old property into a 21st-century live arts hub. The company has already raised 84% of the total project goal and launched its private sector fundraising campaign. Lead gifts to date include: $1.8 million from the Government of Canada, Department of Heritage Canada; $1.2 million from the Province of Ontario; $500,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation; $1 million from the City of Toronto, along with private donations from the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation, Urbancorp and TD Bank.
The former Carnegie Library is a magnificent heritage property built in 1908. Decommissioned as a library in 1964, the building housed offices for Toronto Public Health for nearly 50 years. The project design is led by Philip Goldsmith, of Goldsmith Borgal & Company Architects, whose transformative work on historic properties such as Canada’s National Ballet School and the Toronto Brickworks, made him the natural choice to breathe life back into this neighbourhood landmark. The building’s Edwardian façade will remain, but the Theatre Centre’s adaptive reuse of the space will transform the interior into a unique live arts facility, and will restore the building to its original function as a place of public use and cultural significance.
Structural highlights of the renovation project include: a flexible contemporary performance space with seating for up to 200; a fully equipped laboratory to support new work creation, development and rehearsal; a glass-walled café lobby on building’s southwest corner with views to a new art park; unique gallery spaces for presentations of visual and media art; a green-roofed terrace and a multi-purpose event space.
This Queen Street landmark was constructed as part of the Andrew Carnegie philanthropy grant program that helped finance 125 free libraries in Canada between 1903 and 1924. It was the second branch in Toronto financed by Carnegie, following Yorkville. Listed as one of the city’s heritage properties, the library was designed by city architect Robert McCallum. The library was built to serve the residents in the West End and opened its doors in 1909 as the Queen Lisgar Branch Library. It served the community until 1964 when it was replaced by a new Parkdale Library. The building housed the offices of the Parkdale Branch of Toronto Public Health until September of 2012.
For more information, please visit www.theatrecentre.org.
the theatre centre's new permanent home is revealed on the steps of the historic carnegie library at 1115 queen street west. left to right: artistic and general director franco boni; campaign chair michele fidani; honourary campaign chair don mckellar; councillor anna bailao; lucille roch, acting chair, ontario trillium foundation; and senator don meredith.