Media Releases

U of T project would enhance city’s cultural landscape

September 9, 2014

New proposal for 90 Queen’s Park – in the heart of city’s cultural corridor

TORONTO, ON – New per­for­mance space, a new muse­um and new aca­d­e­m­ic facil­i­ties for the study of civ­i­liza­tions and cul­tures are all part of a Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to pro­pos­al that would cre­ate a dra­mat­ic new gate­way to its down­town cam­pus and a major addi­tion to the city’s cul­tur­al dis­trict.

The project, announced today by the Uni­ver­si­ty, would house a 250-seat per­for­mance hall for the University’s Fac­ul­ty of Music, the Depart­ment of His­to­ry, the Depart­ment of Near and Mid­dle East­ern Civ­i­liza­tions, the Insti­tute of Islam­ic Stud­ies, a research arm for the Cen­tre for Jew­ish Stud­ies and gallery space for the new Jew­ish Muse­um of Cana­da, a fundrais­ing part­ner in the pro­posed devel­op­ment.

U of T Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler said the pro­pos­al con­tin­ues the University’s long his­to­ry as a city builder and facil­i­ta­tor of new cul­tur­al, edu­ca­tion­al and social insti­tu­tions. “The Uni­ver­si­ty has had a sto­ried and long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship with many of the city’s great cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions,” said Gertler. “This project would con­tin­ue that proud tra­di­tion and make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to this cul­tur­al precinct and the entire city.”

The process of build­ing finan­cial sup­port for the pro­posed facil­i­ty has already begun under the lead­er­ship of Issy and Ros­alie Sharp, who will be chair­ing the fundrais­ing for the project, and who have demon­strat­ed very tan­gi­bly their com­mit­ment to the cul­tur­al life of the city and the qual­i­ty of the built envi­ron­ment. “This new devel­op­ment will bring the University’s enor­mous per­for­mance, cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al strengths to the fore in a way that ben­e­fits the city as a whole,” said Issy Sharp. “As home to the new Jew­ish Muse­um of Cana­da, it will also become a nation­al land­mark for explor­ing Jew­ish his­to­ry, cul­ture and iden­ti­ty. I look for­ward to work­ing with the Uni­ver­si­ty to make it a real­i­ty.”

The pro­posed devel­op­ment includes improve­ments that would ben­e­fit all Toron­to­ni­ans, includ­ing a new plaza for the Muse­um sub­way sta­tion entrance and improved con­nec­tions between Queen’s Park and Philoso­phers’ Walk. These improve­ments will com­ple­ment the ROM’s recent­ly-announced Wel­come Project, which will enhance the out­door space sur­round­ing the muse­um.

“This pro­pos­al fos­ters col­lab­o­ra­tion by bring­ing togeth­er a num­ber of our aca­d­e­m­ic pro­grams that are devot­ed to his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al stud­ies,” said David Cameron, dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence. “The devel­op­ment takes advan­tage of the loca­tion of the Depart­ment of Clas­sics and the Cen­tre for Medieval Stud­ies, both of which are across the street, to cre­ate a clus­ter for the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary study of civ­i­liza­tions and cul­tures. It would also offer vis­i­tors and stu­dents oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­ple­men­tary pro­gram­ming of the Cen­tre for Jew­ish Stud­ies with both the Jew­ish Muse­um and the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um.”

Don McLean, dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Music, said “the devel­op­ment will pro­vide a new show­case on Queen’s Park for the Fac­ul­ty of Music’s enor­mous­ly diverse per­for­mance pro­grams, while enhanc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for host­ing major aca­d­e­m­ic con­fer­ences and artis­tic events, includ­ing those in col­lab­o­ra­tion with cul­tur­al part­ners on site.”

Plans for the site may also include a the­atre pro­vid­ing a plan­e­tar­i­um expe­ri­ence, oper­at­ed by the Depart­ment of Astron­o­my and Astro­physics, for edu­ca­tion­al shows for both uni­ver­si­ty and school-age stu­dents. The new Jack­man Law Build­ing, a sig­nif­i­cant expan­sion of the Fac­ul­ty of Law, is already under con­struc­tion on the south end of the precinct.

The new devel­op­ment will cre­ate much-need­ed aca­d­e­m­ic study and research space on a cam­pus that has seen a sig­nif­i­cant expan­sion in the num­ber of stu­dents over the past 10 years.  The pro­posed facil­i­ty would be locat­ed on the site of the McLaugh­lin Plan­e­tar­i­um, which is owned by the Uni­ver­si­ty and cur­rent­ly leased to the Roy­al Ontario Muse­um for use as office space and stor­age.

The Uni­ver­si­ty will imme­di­ate­ly begin a full con­sul­ta­tion process involv­ing Uni­ver­si­ty project plan­ning and gov­er­nance, the City, the U of T’s neigh­bours, local part­ners and oth­er stake­hold­ers.

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