Because the new Massey Hall is spectacular

Because the new Massey Hall is spectacular

After a three-year, $184-million restoration, it’s back and more beautiful than ever

Photograph by Patrick Marcoux

Massey Hall has been Toronto’s sonic paradise for more than a century, a hallowed sanctuary for homegrown acts like Gordon Lightfoot, the Tragically Hip and Broken Social Scene. But by 2018, even the venue’s most diehard fans had to admit that it felt fatigued. The mostly wooden building was a colossal fire hazard, the creaky gallery seats were less ergonomic than a church pew, and the once-magnificent ceiling had fallen into such disrepair that it had to be wrapped in chicken wire lest pieces plummet onto concert-goers below.

After a three-year, $184-million restoration, Massey is back and more beautiful than ever. With help from a team of design and acoustic experts, veteran architect Marianne McKenna and her firm, KPMB, repaired the ornate ceiling, restored and soundproofed 100 boarded-up stained-glass windows, updated the stage and seats (now with cupholders!), and built a sleek new bar—accessible via a floating glass walkway—so patrons no longer have to bottleneck into the basement for a mid-concert cocktail. Performers will dig the new digs, too, because the auditorium is part of a multi-level music-making complex that features a second venue, a recording studio, rehearsal spaces and green rooms, so artists finally have a proper place to prepare before heading onstage.

The seats on the ground level slide underneath the stage, allowing for general-admission shows. Photograph by Derek Shapton
The venue’s 2,550 freshly cushioned chairs are wider and spaced further apart to provide more ­legroom. Photograph by Derek Shapton
Feist’s sequined jumpsuit is one of the outfits on display in Massey’s lobbies. Photograph by Derek Shapton
One hundred stained-glass windows were removed, restored ­offsite and then ­r­e-installed. Photograph by Derek Shapton

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