Inside the transformed Hearn Generating Station, Luminato’s coolest venue yet

Inside the transformed Hearn Generating Station, Luminato’s coolest venue yet

Hearn Generating Station
The Hearn Generating Station, pre-Luminato. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

The Hearn Generating Station has had many lives as a power plant, a grimy film set and the unorthodox setting for a ritzy, one-night gala. All that was just a warm-up: from June 10 to 26, Luminato transforms the sprawling, derelict space into the home of its arts fest, complete with a theatre, music stage and French bistro (and more programming than we can list—though we tried). Here’s how they did it.


Luminato: Situation Rooms
The theatre. Rendering by Partisans and Norm Li

The cavernous theatre occupies the southeast corner of the Hearn—the spot least obstructed by the steel beams that criss-cross the facility.

Workers putting the final touches on the theatre. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

The stage and 1,200 seats were delivered in shipping containers. Partisans, the architecture firm behind the Hearn’s transformation, worked with Giant Container Services to reuse those containers for balcony seating.


One Thousand Speculations, by Michel De Broin. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

One Thousand Speculations, an eight-metre-wide disco ball constructed by Montreal sculptor Michel de Broin, hangs in the Hearn’s northeast corner. The same orb dangled above David Pecaut Square during Luminato in 2013. Here’s how the fest handled the 150-hour installation process.


The Situation Rooms. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

From the outside, this windowless structure looks like a strange sort of movie set. Inside, guests will find a labyrinthine, multi-storey network of small rooms. The complex houses a theatre experience of the same name.


Luminato: Music Stage
An early rendering of the music stage. Rendering by Partisans and Norm Li

Towers of freight containers will wrap the edges of the music stage, a custom-built performance platform backed by a massive video screen.

The completed music stage. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

The colossal venue will host the experimental Unsound Festival (June 10 and 11), Rufus Wainwright’s tribute to Judy Garland (June 23 and 24), a queer dance party by Yes Yes Y’all and DudeBox (June 17), and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Fifth (June 21).


The backdrop for a dinner at Le Pavillon. Photograph by Jonathan Castellino

Le Pavillon, the pop-up French bistro upstairs, is a collaboration between the chefs from the Junction’s Honest Weight and Montreal’s Joe Beef. The kitchen and tables will be tucked between computer consoles and defunct machinery in the Hearn’s old control room.


An early rendering of the front lobby. Rendering by Partisans and Norm Li

A corridor extending from the main lobby will be dotted with installations, like a trippy mirror exhibition from the Design Exchange.

The turbine hall. Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus

The hallway leads to a Spanish Steps–style grand staircase, which will double as a stage for Rufus Wainwright and Choir! Choir! Choir!’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (June 11).


Hearn Generating Station
An exterior shot of the Hearn. Photograph courtesy of Luminato Festival

To mark Luminato’s 10th anniversary, a team of daredevils will base jump—i.e., parachute—off of the Hearn’s 215-metre smokestack (June 10 and 11). Guests can watch from a beer garden operated by Parts and Labour, which will border the shipping channel just north of the main entrance.

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