The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts has confirmed renovation and restoration plans that will see a revitalized theater open in the fall of 2010 to celebrate the building’s 50th anniversary. The theater, designated a historical site by the City of Toronto, will undergo major renovations and restorations starting in October 2009. The project will eliminate a number of architectural interventions added to the theater over the years, thus restoring the elegance and grandeur of Peter Dickinson’s original O’Keefe Centre, which opened on October 1, 1960. Iconic features such as the theater marquee canopy and York Wilson’s lobby mural “The Seven Lively Arts” will be preserved. Restoration of the wood, brass and marble that were hallmarks of the original facility will be undertaken, along with audience seating and flooring upgrades, new washrooms, re-configured lobby spaces and significant mechanical and electrical system changes.
The renovation will provide visiting entertainers and performers with a fresh and positive experience both backstage and onstage, and provide audiences with an upgraded and enhanced live entertainment experience.
Sony of Canada Ltd., the naming sponsor of the Centre, will further enhance the theater environment by providing state-of-the-art Sony entertainment solutions throughout the venue. In addition to the latest Sony Bravia panels, visitors can expect to see cutting-edge multimedia technologies like the new Sony Ziris Canvas, a high end feature application where high definition digital content stretches across numerous Sony LCD panels creating a spectacular video wall. This Ziris Canvas will greet visitors as they enter the main foyer of the Sony Centre, and in the north-west corner of the renovated building visitors can explore more Sony technologies in a new Sony Style retail store.
A complex real-estate transaction between the City of Toronto and Ferncastle Developments will provide the funding for the renovation project. Sony Centre C.E.O. Dan Brambilla, who has actively managed the negotiations and completion of the agreement with the developers says “I am very excited that the Sony Centre can benefit from these major improvements and I look forward to the opening of the venue next year, when we can delight our performers and audiences and further contribute to the cultural and commercial fabric of Toronto, Canada and the world. The Sony Centre has hosted many great performances and provided diverse and exciting programming over the past 49 years, and the breadth of these improvements will allow us to provide so much more in the years to come.”
Lowe’s, Canada’s New Home Improvement Warehouse, Sony Centre Building Sponsor, will provide select materials for the construction, and Vanbots Construction will oversee the renovation project.
Another interesting development is the addition of the L Tower to the building due for completion by 2011. The redevelopment of the 50-year-old Sony Centre for the Performing Arts boasts the new L Tower Condominiums and a new arts and cultural facility, which will be combined with the Centre’s existing theater. The entire development will offer a new strategy for 21st Century living, whereby inner city life is actively integrated with culture and the arts. SDL is working with Castlepoint Realty Partners Limited on this project.
SDL’s design proposal for the cultural component of the L Tower and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts Redevelopment is conceptually engaged with the programmatic and experiential intentions of the ArtsLab. It achieves this via a formal and spatial strategy articulated through a central void in the building. This collective space, in the form of a semi-sphere, is a cultural hub, both symbolic and functional, evoking in form the global diversity of cultures present in Toronto and celebrated throughout the program. The residential tower component comprises the majority (428,000 sq.ft.) of the overall redesign. Situated atop the cultural facilities, it will contain approximately 470 units and rise to a height of 57 stories, providing stunning views over downtown Toronto and Ontario. The tower will assert the Sony Centre not only as an icon of the city skyline, but also of cultural institutions within the city. Here is a render of that vision: