Art Gallery of Ontario

  • Client

    The Art Gallery of Ontario

  • Region

    Central Canada

  • City


  • Budget

    $135 Million

  • Year Completed


  • Size

    286,000 sq. ft.

  • Sector


  • Sub-Sector

    Culture & Recreation

The Story

EllisDon was selected as Construction Manager for the Art Gallery of Ontario—Transformation AGO project, a building designed by world renowned Architect Frank Gehry.

The project incorporates a 20% increase in overall building size, with a total of 190,000 square feet of renovated space and 97, 000 square feet of newly built space. A new glass and glue laminated wood facade spans 600 feet along Dundas from McCaul Street to Beverly Street and rises 70 feet above the street level, enclosing a 450-foot long sculpture gallery, which connects all the front gallery spaces. This facade is scaled to respect the neighbouring houses on Dundas Street and reconfigures the AGO’s streetscape. The main entrance is re-orientated to the skylit enclosed Walker Court, which is the historic center of the Gallery, where a grand baroque staircase and second floor walkways connects to the new contemporary art and event space in the new south building. The glazed and titanium clad south elevation rises 140 feet above Grange Park framing the AGO’s historic house, The Grange.

In the end, it’s the people who make all the difference in whether a project succeeds or fails. EllisDon gave this project their best people and considerable attention from the top leaders in the company, right down. The success of the project shows the strength of EllisDon’s commitment.
Matthew Teitelbaum, Director and CEO of AGO

The overall gallery space increased by 40% to a total of 123,500 square feet. Other new public space areas includes a two level gift and book shop, a fine dining restaurant, a cafe that is integrated with the members’ lounge and the Jackman Theatre. The Transformation AGO project is one of the most exciting renovations to happen in Toronto’s history and approximately 52,000 people took advantage of free admission on the opening weekend (November 14, 2008). With the new and renovated areas holding new and exciting artwork, the AGO is not only a gallery but also a work of art itself. The fresh facade puts a new face on Toronto’s streetscape, while the high quality interiors welcomes new and old visitors alike.

EllisDon coordinated a massive effort in order to bring the design of Frank Ghehry to fruition. Through hard work, tremendous effort, diligent problem solving and the use of innovative new software, the EllisDon team was able to effectively solve all the design challenges put forward. As announced by AGO President Charlie Baillie, the project came in on budget and a month earlier than expected. This could not have been achieved without the experience, knowledge and forward thinking of EllisDon and its team.