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Local engineers worked with Gehry on Art Gallery of Ontario

In all the celebrations and media coverage of the latest transformation to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on...


In all the celebrations and media coverage of the latest transformation to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on November 14, there was little mention of the long list of consulting engineers and others who helped to realize the dramatic changes.

Frank Gehry International of Los Angeles were the architects of the project and the work is very much in the sculptural dramatic style for which he is famous.

The $276-million project added a sweeping curved glass galleria stretching an entire city block along Dundas Street West. On the south side facing Grange Park and the dramatic OCAD “table top building,” the AGO has a new contemporary four-storey tower clad in tinted glass and titanium.

The alterations have doubled the gallery viewing space into 110 galleries, partly to include the Thomson Collection with its 2,000 works.  Many of the galleries are now filled with daylight, which has some archivists concerned. There is also a new and imposing and large spiral staircase structure that ascends from Walker Court. Walker Court now has a glass roof.

Frank Gehry is a Pritzker Prize winning architect known worldwide for his extremely irregular and unique forms, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain and the “Dancing House” in Prague, Czech Republic. He grew up in the Toronto neighbourhood of the museum before moving to the U.S.

Working with Gehry was a whole string of local consultants. They include:

Structural Engineering – Halcrow Yolles

Mechanical Engineering – H.H. Angus & Associates

Electrical Engineering – Mulvey & Banani International

Geo-Technical Engineering – Trow Associates

Civil Engineering – RV Anderson Associates

Local on-site Architect – Adamson Associates

Code Compliance/Life Safety – Leber/Rubes, Inc.

Inspecting & Testing – Peto MacCallum

Wind Testing – Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin 

Scheduling – Project Control Group

Cost Consultant – Hanscomb

Parking & Traffic – BA Group Transportation Consultants

Urban Planning/City Approvals – Urban Strategies

The AGO acquired the Dundas Street building in 1918, and since then the building has undergone several additions and renovations.  The most notable changes in the last half-century are the expansion by John C. Parkin Architects in 1974 which added the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, and another in 1993 by Barton Myers/KPMB Architects which added the Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium and a new front along Dundas Street — a frontage now removed and superseded by the Gehry addition.