Inside Massey Hall’s three-year renovation

Inside Massey Hall’s three-year renovation

As Torontonians toe (cautiously) back into IRL revelry, Massey Hall is ready to welcome them back. To label the space as simply a music venue would be a colossal understatement. It’s a hallowed hall, a church of sound that Canadian legends call a home-away-from-home, with musicians including Gordon Lightfoot and Geddy Lee among the regulars. Massey’s original design was done by Sidney Badgley, who was best known for his churches, which may explain the almost-religious experiences so many Torontonians have had at Massey. The first edict of the revitalization was to preserve the venue’s legendary acoustics. Here’s a look inside.


The original exterior signage has had extensive metalwork restoration and new neon lighting put in:

The 1933 lobby looks largely the same, save for a deep clean and a fresh coat of paint. The preservation efforts, led by Marianne McKenna of KPMB Architects, included restoring the Art Deco brass banisters and iron columns and peeling back layers upon layers of paint:

Here’s the cavernous main hall:

The seats on the ground level slide underneath the stage, allowing for general admission shows from rowdier artists like Majid Jordan and Charli XCX. The venue’s 2,550 freshly cushioned chairs are wider and spaced further apart to provide for more legroom and the addition of cupholders:

In the old space, the absence of elevators made accessibility minimal. Now, two elevators and extended accessible seating broadens the number of visitors who can catch a gig:

One hundred stained-glass windows were removed, restored offsite and then reinstalled. Performers can choose to let the light in or close the mechanical blinds for a moodier set:

Massey Hall’s signature arches were covered in chicken wire some 80 years ago to prevent plaster from falling on patrons. During the renovations, the architects built a 60-foot scaffold so artisans could restore the detailing by hand. The ceiling was also reinforced to support pop star-level lighting and sound equipment:

A glass-walled outdoor walkway was installed to connect patrons to a brand-new bar and refreshment area (plus a loo or two):

Here’s a view of the addition from the outside:

Feist’s sequined jumpsuit plus some Blue Rodeo and Arcade Fire memorabilia are on display in Massey’s new bar:

There’s a new basement performance space for lower-octane concerts from up-and-coming artists. There’s also now space for recording studios, creative labs, rehearsal areas and content capture suites for TV and web: