The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall has release details today on Phase II of the massive revitalization project aimed at bringing Massey Hall into the 21st century.
The seven-year project will include much-needed updates to the interior and exterior of the National Historic Site, and a new addition to the south of the building.
Most notably, Phase II of the planned 8.3 million dollar renovation will include the addition of two new venues: a 500 seat concert space in the south tower, and a new performance space in the expanded Centuries bar.
There will also be a new state-of-the-art retractable seating system installed on the orchestra level which will accommodate both standing and seated patrons.
“The ability to transform the orchestra level into a standing-room audience means a whole new category of acts will be attracted to Massey Hall,” explains Clemeth L. Abercrombie, senior consultant at Charcoalblue, the theatre consultant company behind the renovation. “From a patron standpoint, you get a seating layout that respects the heritage of Massey Hall but uses a higher-quality seat and a system with more flexibility. And when you’re in the standing room, it’s an open floor with space all around.”
Showing a similar approach to the Victorian era Royal Conservatory of Music building renovation on Bloor Street in 2009, Massey Hall has hired a team of heritage building advisors to ensure that Massey Hall is not only updated, but preserved. The site’s existing 124-year-old stained glass windows which have been boarded up for nearly a century will be totally refurbished to like new condition.
“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,” said Marianne McKenna, design lead, founding partner KPMB Architects in a press release statement.
According to Ward 15 Councillor Josh Colle, (also chair of Toronto’s Music Industry Advisory Council), the recognition of the value of arts venues in the city has made the project a priority. In particular, he described the area around Massey Hall on Yonge Street as being overrun by condos and parking lots, which has robbed the area as a hub for entertainment in the city.
“[concert venues] make a main street healthier and safer to have activity at different hours, and not just shut down,” Colle said. “It’s fitting that Massey would be the catalyst to make Yonge Street relevant again for music, because they’ve been there through everything.”