Text description provided by the architects. architectsAlliance transformed the Tower Automotive Building, a 9,700sm (104,414 sf) heritage-designated warehouse in Toronto’s Lower Junction Triangle, into a new multi-storey cultural hub anchored by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Canada’s newest public gallery dedicated to international contemporary art.
As a new creative engine in the heart of Toronto’s old manufacturing district, MOCA stands at the conjunction of art and culture, performance and community-building. This exciting new institution offers a ground-floor public meeting hall, café and temporary exhibit space, with four floors above grade occupied by exhibition halls, workshops and maker spaces, administrative offices and public/staff libraries. The top five stories of the Tower Automotive Building are populated by graphic design, software and other creative practices.
The Tower Automotive Building is a significant urban artifact. We wanted to allow others to experience the sense of elation and mystery we felt as we walked its rows of columns and echoing spaces. The key to its revival was a series of unobtrusive interventions that reveal the bones of this extraordinary building – mediations rooted in the history of this structure.
The only overt deviation from this light touch are the transparent glass ‘pop-out’ boxes along the west face of the building. These secondary entrances trace the points of connection between the auto building and former manufacturing out-buildings, and act as lanterns to conduct light into MOCA’s main floor.
This is stealth architecture,” says Peter Clewes, architectsAlliance’s managing partner and design director. “Our goal was to preserve the rawness of the space as we first encountered it: the honesty of a functional, industrial space, with its patina of history and use both cherished and enshrined.
The architecture is not the event, but rather it’s the building, so what we have done is simply reveal its bones and present it in an elemental way. If we’re successful here as architects, then you will sense the art, not the architecture.”