Here is a look at the winning design of Toronto’s spectacular new theatre

Toronto is getting a stunning new theatre in the St. Lawrence Market district as the City of Toronto through its real estate agency CreateTO is announcing Hariri Pontarini Architects as the winning design of the new St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (STLC) Design Competition.

The winning design team includes Hariri Pontarini Architects, LMN Architects, Tawaw Architecture Collective, Smoke Architecture, and SLA.

The competition was to reimagine the STLC. The Pontarini design is called Transparence and features a high-performance transparent façade that wraps the existing structure, a landmark performing arts theatre in the heart of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. The design also incorporates several Indigenous design elements, including the exterior which was inspired by the role of Wampum belts in storytelling, artistry and craft and the inclusion of a circular ceremonial fire at Front and Scott streets.

A rendering of the lobby of the new St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts

“Reimagining the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is an incredibly important civic and cultural initiative for the St. Lawrence neighbourhood and broader Toronto community. The winning submission from the team led by Hariri Pontarini Architects honours the building’s legacy while creating an accessible, uniquely flexible cultural centre with plenty of public spaces that will serve the broad cultural sector, the St. Lawrence community and people from across Toronto, all while strengthening the diverse neighbourhood,” said Chris Noise, city councillor for Toronto Centre.

The St. Lawrence Centre is currently home to two theatres including the larger Bluma Appel Theatre and the Jane Mallett Theatre that host touring shows as well as many productions from the Canadian Stage Company. The theatre is known for having some of the worst leg-room game in the city. It is across the street from Meridian Hall.

In addition to the main stage performance space and an acoustic hall, the new centre is set to create a cultural hub with rehearsal/multi-purpose rooms, artist-in- residence studios, media studios, child minding space, front of house public spaces, front of house support, back of house, outdoor spaces and significant improvements to the public realm.

A rendering that shows the improved public realm outside the new theatre

The first stage of the two-stage design competition was launched with the release of a Request for Supplier Qualifications in October. Five teams were shortlisted to advance to the second stage, which was launched in November with the release of a Request for Proposals.

“The new STLC is an opportunity to reclaim public space in the dense urban core of the city while renewing the ongoing commitment to the artists of Toronto,” said Clyde Wagner, president & CEO of TO Live.

“It is an iconic project, setting the stage to define the 21st century performing arts centre through its ability to offer a welcoming space for all people while fulfilling the need for permanent artist studios and creation spaces in order to uplift the rich creative economy of the city. The centre will be a destination for future visitors to the city for generations and a space that artists and the community will be proud to call their creative home.”

The winning submission will be presented to Executive Committee and Toronto City Council in Q3, 2023.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO