OCAD University gets $1M from Ottawa to modernize historic building

MP Adam Vaughan announced Tuesday that OCAD University has received $1 million from the federal government to refurbish a historic building on its property in downtown Toronto.

Money will be used to refurbish George Reid House, the school's original 1921 campus building

This image is an architectural rendering of a hallway in George Reid House that will be renovated. (Teeple and Morphosis with Two Row Architects)

OCAD University has received $1 million from the federal government to refurbish a historic building on its property in downtown Toronto, MP Adam Vaughan announced Tuesday.

Vaughan said the money will be used to modernize the George Reid House, the original 1921 campus building of the school, formerly known as Ontario College of Art (OCA). The house was the first building in Canada built specifically to educate professional artists and designers.

The money has been awarded through the Canada 150 community infrastructure fund, which is $300 million set aside to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday through investments in community spaces. 
This image is an architectural rendering of a room in George Reid House that will be turned into an event and meeting place. (Teeple and Morphosis with Two Row Architects)

Vaughan, who represents Spadina-Fort York, said the funding is timely given that Grange Park, which George Reid House overlooks, has been revitalized.

"I am proud to see my community and Toronto benefit from this program," Vaughan said on Tuesday.

Dr. Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor of OCAD University, said the art school contributes much to the social, cultural and economic fabric of Toronto and Ontario.

"Through this generous funding, the refurbishment of the George Reid House ensures a bright future for this historic building by modernizing the interior facilities and re-establishing it as a significant university and community asset," she said.

She said the George Reid House was last renovated in 1967, during Canada's centennial year, when an "impressive" foundry was added to allow students in sculpture and industrial design students to create works in cast bronze and aluminum.

Project will cost $3M in all

Renovations of the house will begin later this week and "substantial completion" of the project is expected by the end of March 2018, she added.

The refurbishment project will cost $3 million in all. It involves creating new event and meeting spaces, enhancing a space through a hallway to allow for interpretative displays, and restoring the west side portico, which will be renamed the Canada 150 Portico.

Christine Crosbie, OCAD University manager of media and communications, said the portico will be redone. A portico is a porch that leads to a building entrance, with a roof over a walkway, and is held up by columns or enclosed by walls.

"It will be cleaned up. It will be made shiny and new," Crosbie said. 

The house was designed by painter George Reid, an alumnus who was principal of OCA at the time, and vice-principal Arthur Lismer, a member of the Group of Seven.

"The project will restore the building to its 1921 splendour and modernize its facilities for the 21st century," OCAD University said in a news release on Tuesday.

The refurbishment is part of the school's larger creative city campus revitalization project. Under the project, studio-based and experiential learning is to be expanded, learning and teaching technology is to be upgraded, and the school's research capacity would be increased.

Leslie Gales, campaign chair of Ignite Imagination: The Campaign for OCAD University, said the money is welcome.

"The realization of our goals and vision could not be achieved without the assistance of all of our private and public supporters," Gales said.

Founded in 1876, the university is dedicated to art, design and digital media education, practice and research, and to knowledge and invention across many disciplines.