2022 Award of Excellence – Conservation – Architecture

Massey Hall

Toronto, Ontario
Awarded to:

Sharon VattayCarlos Morell & Christopher Borgal (GBCA Architects)
Eve Guinan (Eve Guinan Design Restoration)
John Wilcox (Vitreous Glassworks)
Jean-Francois Furieri (Iconoplast Designs Inc.)
Eric Stewart (Historic Plaster Conservation Services)
Fiona Graham (Graham Conservation)
Sam Trigila (Clifford Restoration)

Massey Hall, one of Canada’s most iconic entertainment venues, opened its doors in 1894 and has been a landmark ever since. But staying relevant into the 21st century came with the need to update the building with an improved infrastructure that would enhance the overall audience experience. This updating presented an opportunity to acknowledge and restore the heritage elements that lend the Hall its unique architectural identity.

Working in tandem with lead-architects KPMB, GBCA developed a detailed conservation strategy that preserved the Hall’s various character-defining elements, including the Moorish-styled auditorium, the Art Deco lobby and the Palladian exterior. This strategy was based on a thorough understanding of the historic place and a goal of repairing extant heritage elements as opposed to replacing.

Conceived as a memorial to philanthropist Hart Massey’s son, Charles Albert Massey, Massey Hall was designed as an auditorium where public meetings, conventions and musicals could be hosted. Executed in red brick and modestly trimmed in sandstone and terracotta, the Palladian exterior was in stark contrast to the ornate Moorish-style interior, visually dominated by the decorated plaster ceiling. Art Nouveau-style stained glass windows added to the character of the space, allowing natural light into the auditorium. Over the years, Massey Hall’s architectural and historical value was acknowledged when the Hall was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for being a fine example of a late nineteenth century concert hall. The Hall was recognized as a National Historic Site in 1982.