Hariri Pontarini To Design Art Gallery of York University

Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA) have been selected to design a new, stand-alone art gallery at York University. The new building will become a centrepiece at the Keele Campus, building upon the rich history of the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), and magnifying its reach into the local community and the world beyond.

York University Art Gallery, Toronto, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.Rendering of the winning design. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Boasting a contemporary, contextual design with the firm’s signature curves, HPA’s proposal stood out in the online design competition which saw a wide show of interest from strong contenders in the architectural community. Moriyama and Teshima Architects and gh3 were also on the shortlist. All three firms have received Governor General’s Medals in Architecture.

The new building will be located at the heart of the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, steps from the subway station. The three-storey building will highlight contemporary and historic art and include a ground level event space with four separate gallery spaces set within a xeriscape garden.

AGYU’s collection currently contains 1,700 works including…

  • prominent donations of works by Norval Morrisseau and Andy Warhol
  • 200 prints and sculptures by renowned and influential Inuit artists including Kenojuak Ashevek and Kananginak Pootoogook
  • paradigmatic work by Canadian “Automatistes” Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas
  • American Modernists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland
  • RISE, an internationally acclaimed film by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, featuring performances from some of Toronto’s most influential spoken word and rap artists.

York University Art Gallery, Toronto, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.Aerial: The new building will sit at the heart of York Keele Campus’ School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, between the Accolade East Building and the Centre for Film & Theatre. Image courtesy of Googlemaps.

Founding Partner Siamak Hariri cites his excitement to help reimagine the AGYU’s future, “To signify this transformation, we were inspired by metaphor and nature. Like a butterfly, each of the five wings of the new gallery extend their reach out to the campus and of course beyond. Responding to the AGYU’s aspiration to expand the social and civic role of the gallery, the building will have a powerful presence, a new presence, embracing the full University Common, and welcoming and attracting visitors to all the wonder it has to offer.”

The AGYU opened in 1988 and moved into its current 3,000 ft² in 2006. The new building, combined with the AGYU’s existing space, will form a unified art institution and an important hub for artistic engagement. “The new design reflects our vision of an accessible and collaborative art gallery that serves as a space for creation, exhibition and appreciation of diverse art and culture,” says President & Vice- Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

Philanthropists and art collectors Joan and Martin Goldfarb donated $5 million towards the gallery, kicking off this expansion and flagging the importance of the arts on campus. The eponymous Joan and Martin Goldfarb Gallery will honour the Goldfarb’s long history of supporting the arts at York University.

York University Art Gallery, Toronto, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.Rendering of the winning design, aerial view from across the Harry W. Arthurs Common. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

With this win, HPA adds to its notable cultural and institutional portfolio, which includes the recently opened Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, and the internationally award-winning Bahá’í Temple of South America.

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you’d like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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