THE SCOOP | Toronto’s Massey Hall Reopens After Three-Year Revitalization Project

By Anya Wassenberg on November 26, 2021

Massey_Hall

Toronto’s venerable Massey Music Hall reopened last night, November 25, 2021, after a massive revitalization project. The venue marked the occasions with a performance by iconic Canadian music star Gordon Lightfoot, who received a key to the city from Mayor John Tory.

In its storied history, Massey Hall was home to the TSO for six decades. Along with a string of nationally and internationally acclaimed music artists, the hall has played host to political rallies, and sporting events. It’s the site of several live recordings, including Rush’s All the World’s a Stage, and Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall.

The hall first opened in 1894, a gift from industrial magnate Hart Massey to the city of Toronto.

The revitalization project is still ongoing, with a budget of about $184 million funded by all three levels of government, along with corporate and private donors. It includes the addition of a seven-storey structure on the south side of the original building that adds accessibility features, and will eventually house a recording studio, a basement bar/lounge, and more when complete.

Live-at-Massey-Hall-Stage

The goal of the renovation for Massey Hall itself was to fix any structural issues — and longstanding deficiencies such as the limited public bathrooms available — while preserving the ambience and acoustics that turned the 2,800 seat venue into an intimate space, and that so many musicians have come to love about the hall over the years.

A look at restoring the long forgotten stained-glass windows:

Improvements include:

  • Brand new retractable flooring;
  • Stained-glass windows that had been covered with plywood for decades carefully restored;
  • Plaster ceiling repaired;
  • The stage has been completely rebuilt;
  • The entire ground floor has been raised;
  • Upgraded audio and light technology;
  • Improved acoustics;
  • Among many other renovations.

Standing_Ovation_at_Massey_Hall

Marianne McKenna of KPMB Architects is chief architect of the Massey Hall revitalization project. “I’m a contemporary architect,” McKenna told the CBC in an interview. “You know, we do things in very contemporary ways, but to acknowledge and respect the history, to try not to change it but to augment the feeling of being here. To make it better. It’s a big challenge for an architect.”

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