How to Build a Great Gallery

March 2017

By Francisco Alvarez
Dorene & Peter Milligan Executive Director, OCAD U Galleries

OCAD University is building a brand new state-of-the-art flagship professional gallery in a residential building at 199 Richmond Street West. Opening to the public in the fall of 2017, the new 8,000 square-foot Onsite Gallery will be an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media, serving the University and the general public, with the goal of fostering social and cultural transformations.

Below is a floor plan of the new Onsite Gallery. Along the top is Richmond Street West and the compass direction of North. One enters from Richmond Street through a glassed-in vestibule to enter the main exhibition hall. Towards the East, or right side of this floor plan, are a new open storage Collections Room to house our Permanent Collection of art and design, the Media Lounge, and the Gallery offices and meeting room. The main exhibition hall opens towards the South and West, including an area in the centre that can be closed off for special projects. The numbers on the floor plan mark the positions from which the architectural renderings and photographs below are taken. Swipe your mouse across the image to see a “before and after” perspective from each of the six vantage points.


Onsite Floor plan

Onsite Gallery Floor Plan


The new ONSITE Gallery

        VIEW 1: Main exhibition hall, looking north-east

The new items seen here are the new exhaust ducts in the ceiling and the steel beams framing a second set of interior windows to be built along the north wall of the gallery, near Richmond Street. Look for the diagonal beam in front of the window towards the left side of the photo.


March 2, 2017 Architectural rendering
Architectural rendering March 2, 2017

        VIEW 2: View from the entrance vestibule

This view shows a lot more activity and materials in the space. A steelworker is welding a long metal beam in place that will support a sliding wall beside the future Collections Room. Our friendly construction manager, Joe Vala from Steelcore Construction, is wearing a white hard hat.


March 2, 2017 Architectural rendering
Architectural rendering March 2, 2017

         VIEW 3: View from the rear of the exhibition hall, looking north

Standing at the back of the gallery, one can see ceiling ducts and more ceiling ducts. The mechanical system is very complex, to meet the stringent requirements for steady temperature, humidity and air filtration demanded by the Department of Canadian Heritage in order to qualify for Category A status. That means that if the Louvre wanted to loan us the Mona Lisa, we could keep her cozy and safe at Onsite.


Our mechanical room is already loaded with specialized equipment. Joe says that if we ever wanted to turn the gallery into a public skating rink, our chiller could do the job, no problem!


Wow, even our construction crew wants to curate. Look at their cool exhibition of found and original art!



Build the new Onsite Gallery with us

Architectural renderings provided by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects