Art Gallery of Ontario

AGO Transformation

HH Angus has been providing consulting engineering services to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) since 1925. Today, the AGO is the 10th largest art gallery in North America.

World-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry designed AGO’s transformation. The project was both an addition (97,763 ft2) and renovation (187,000 ft2), and represented the final phase of a three-phase expansion. Innovative design features were implemented during the phased construction, installation, and commissioning, as well as in the integration of new and existing spaces.

Three main challenges were proposed by the client and the architectural team:

  1. construction would have to be phased in order to provide ongoing service to galleries
  2. sophisticated mechanical systems were needed to meet the specific requirements of each gallery, and these would have to be physically remote from the galleries for aesthetics
  3. integration challenges would have to be overcome in connecting new systems to existing base systems.

The AGO is divided into 70 zones, with each gallery space fitted with dedicated sensors controlling the individual equipment in remote rooms. The mechanical systems were designed to be virtually invisible. The normal paraphernalia of the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems within the gallery viewing areas are not visible to visitors. Reducing fresh air intake during off-peak hours simplified the HVAC system control, and reduced the influence of fluctuations in outside temperature and humidity, providing more stable environmental conditions for the artwork.

The integration of new mechanical systems with existing systems made the already complicated assignment even more complex. The form and arrangement of the new and renovated spaces resulted in an irregularly-connected multi-level project. Interconnected atrium spaces required careful attention to ensure that mechanical services were concealed and that service access routes were maintained. The prediction of temperature- and pressure-induced airflow patterns, and arrangements to segregate returns for balancing return air to individual air handling units, required complex analysis.

In order to avoid the risk of water leakage, which would be a serious issue for the AGO’s collection, all mechanical rooms were located in no-impact areas away from gallery spaces. There is no equipment housed above gallery ceilings for the same reason.

The vertical transportation system includes three passenger elevators, one high capacity freight elevator, two material lifts, and two platform lifts to accommodate persons with physical disabilities. All elevators are of the “traction” type, with special design features to accommodate both large groups and the travel distances required.

We’re very proud to have been involved in the transformation of the AGO – one of Toronto's most important cultural venues.

Mechanical Engineering | Vertical Transportation

Size: 486,000 ft2 | Status: Completed 2007

Toronto, Ontario

Phasing to permit ongoing operations | Sophisticated mechanical systems physically remote from galleries | Integration of new and old building systems | 3
passenger elevators, 1 high capacity freight elevator, 2 material lifts and 2 platform lifts | Complex analysis required to study temperature and pressure-induced airflow patterns and arrangements