Photo by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.
It isn’t every day that you go out in search of a story and come back wearing another person’s shoes. This, however, is the fate that befell Torontoist photographer Andrew Louis yesterday, in the halls of the newly renovated Royal Conservatory. Torontoist was there to preview the refurbished and expanded centre of all things musical, and since parts of it are still under construction, at a certain point we were required to trade in our kicks for steel-toed boots. (And also to don construction hats. Conservatory staff in attendance were even trained in adjusting the hats to fit our heads, which we found a remarkably deft touch.) And upon our return…lo! Missing shoes!
But what about the building, you ask? The building, we answer, is coming along very nicely. Designed by Toronto fave KPMB, it is reminiscent of Brookfield (formerly BCE) Place in that it retains an existing historical building and marries it with a glass-clad expansion—both the new and old side’s materials are set off to particularly good effect in this way. The interior reminded us a good deal of the Four Seasons Centre: lots of blonde wood, neutral fabrics (under their plastic wrap the seats in the seats appeared bluish-grey), and open glass walkways. The effect is gentle and graceful, forming the loveliest of backdrops. (Though, as with the Four Seasons Centre, we wish it was perhaps not quite so backdrop-y. Just one splash of colour? Please?)
The highlight of the preview was the much-anticipated Koerner Hall, a new 1135-seat performance space that will see everyone from classical quartets to Ravi Shankar grace its stage during the 2009–2010 performance season. Unfortunately, since the hall is in the aforementioned construction zone no photographs were allowed, and so we cannot show it to you just yet. However, we can report that its most distinctive feature—a curvaceous ceiling made of long thin panels of oak, and meant to evoke the strings on an instrument—is already fully installed, and is as pretty to look at as we’d hoped.
Our verdict? The new Royal Conservatory is going to be worth the price of admission. Possibly even the price of a new pair of shoes.