As part of an ambitious development in Toronto’s entertainment district, OCAD University announced today that its facility within the multi-purpose Mirvish-Gehry condo-cultural centre will be called The Princess of Wales Arts Centre at OCAD University.
The new 25,000-square-foot facility is named in homage to the Princess of Wales Theatre, which is slated for demolition as part of the Mirvish-Gehry proposal.
It will complement a new 2,600-unit condo development and a new gallery for David Mirvish’s personal art collection.
“This new arts-dedicated facility provides a means to honour a legacy that associates the creative and socially transformative virtues of art with the Princess of Wales's legendary dedication to young people,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, president of OCAD U.
Last October, theatre impresario David Mirvish and renowned Canadian architect Frank Gehry announced a plan to rebuild two blocks in the King St. West entertainment district, including several heritage buildings and the Princess of Wales Theatre.
The proposal calls for a three-tower condominium complex rising as high as 85 storeys.
Mr. Gehry, a Toronto native, is best known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. He also designed the major renovation and addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario that was completed in 2008.
At a news conference in the main auditorium of OCAD University, president Sara Diamond read a letter to the audience from Britain’s royal highnesses, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, giving their blessing to the transfer of the name. “The royal highnesses are extremely grateful for raising this matter since Toronto has always held a very special place in their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales’s heart.”
The Princess of Wales Visual Arts Centre and the 60,000-square-foot Mirvish Gallery are the two anchors in the first tower, which Mirvish told media after the press conference “is definitely moving ahead.”
Just as business leaders designed and built the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1907 to put Toronto on the map as a place of culture and entertainment, Mirvish added, he wants the Gehry-designed complex to “define ourselves as a this moment in time. All of architecture is a portrait of the community at this point in time. I want to give our artists this space. And I want it to the best it can possibly be.”
The new visual arts centre includes a 254-seat theatre/lecture hall, we well as a public gallery to showcase the university’s permanent collection, a faculty gallery, an artist in residence studio, as well as printmaking studios and archives. It will be built on the northeast corner of King and Duncan Sts.
Mr. Gehry could not attend the event yesterday, but he was represented by Craig Webb, a partner in his architecture practice. “The design is a process that is constantly evolving, and we’re still in the early stages,” said Mr. Webb. “It has three towers with very individual identities, connected by a free-flowing podium. Frank describes [the podium] like a cloud. Now we have to figure out how to make that.”