Imagine the Princess of Wales Centre for Visual Arts at OCAD U

Picture a vibrant new gallery space and learning centre in the heart of Toronto’s cultural core that will bring OCAD University to the world. That’s a hope for the future for the OCAD U campus, and on February 14 Dr. Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor announced the name of the 25,000-square-foot facility: the Princess of Wales Centre for Visual Arts at OCAD University.

It’s appropriate this announcement was made on Valentine’s Day, because of the passions it’s awakening in everyone involved and connected to it. The use of the name was approved in a letter of permission sent on behalf of the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry: “Their Royal Highnesses are extremely grateful to you for raising this matter,” read the letter, “since Toronto always held a very special place in their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales’s heart.”
The Mirvish Gehry towers, a model
An early model of the three Mirvish+Gehry towers, Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc.


The new arts-dedicated facility will honour a legacy that associates the creative and socially transformative components of art with the Princess of Wales’s dedication to young people, intergenerational exchange and social concerns such as violence, poverty and HIV education. These themes resonate in contemporary art practice and OCAD U’s engagement with contemporary ethics and art in the social sphere.

“There are very special moments as a leader when your heart both leaps with excitement and warms with profound gratitude,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U’s president at today’s announcement. “The day that David Mirvish called me and shared his hope that OCAD U would become his partner in the creation of a transformative King Street development with world-renowned architect Frank Gehry was such a life moment.”

The Mirvish+Gehry development team
Peter Kofman, President of Projectcore Inc., Vladimir Spicanovic, OCAD U Dean of Arts, Dr. Sarah Diamond, OCAD U President Dr. Sara Diamond, David Mirvish and Craig Webb, one of Frank Gehry's partners. Photo: Martin Iskander.


The facility, part of the Mirvish+Gehry Toronto initiative, is slated to be built at the north east corner of King and Duncan streets in downtown Toronto. The plan proposes a myriad of opportunities for Toronto and international public to engage with the legacy that OCAD U represents.

Like the Sharp Centre for Design designed for OCAD U by Alsop Architects and Robbie/Young + Wright Architects Inc., the Mirvish + Gehry development will be visually unique. Craig Webb, one of Frank Gehry’s partners described the vision as three towers, each with its own identity, emerging from a cloud-like podium structure onto the Toronto skyline.

Early model of the Mirvish+Gehry development
Another early model of the three Mirvish+Gehry towers, Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc.


“Our goal is to define ourselves and our ambitions,” said David Mirvish, who compared the community spirit of the project to that of NYC’s 92nd Street Y, Manhattan’s renowned cultural community hub. “We’re building a neighbourhood that will serve the whole city, and we’re hoping the core of the gallery can be free to the public.”

"This space will be about more than places to see and experience art,” said Vladimir Spicanovic, OCAD U’s Dean of Arts. “It will also be a place to study, curate and create artboth for OCAD U students and for the public.”

Imagine a space where you can:

  • See OCAD U’s permanent collection of more than 6,000 prints, paintings, sculptures, textiles and photographs by more than 250 notable Canadian artists
  • View exhibitions by curatorial students
  • Attend performances and the president’s lecture series in a 254-seat theatre-in-the-round
  • Access OCAD U’s expansive collections by master printmakers and archive of artists’ books
  • Study and research criticism, curatorial practice, art history, printmaking and publications
  • Produce publications in a hands-on studio for layout, editing, bookbinding and print-on-demand bookmaking


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