Roy Thomson Hall is located at 60 Simcoe St (at King St W on the southwest corner) in the Entertainment District of downtown Toronto.
The “New Massey Hall”
In 1967, plans to build a “New Massey Hall” were announced. It took several years of preparation, and in 1979, construction began on the concert hall. In 1982, the venue was officially named Roy Thomson Hall when Mr Thomson’s family made a $4.5 million donation toward building the $39 million venue. That same year, the iconic structure opened for its inaugural season.
The Glass Dome Concert Hall
The Modern style building, which sits on 2.5 acres of land, was designed by Arthur Erickson, a prominent Canadian architect and author. This was in association with the Toronto architectural firm of Mathers and Haldenby. To ensure accessibility for disabled patrons and performers, violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman was a special advisor to the architects.
Roy Thomson Hall is constructed of steel and concrete and is covered by a multi-paned glass roof. The triangular and diamond-shaped glass is divided by glazing bars and braced by a steel-tube frame. By day the glass becomes reflective, and by night, it’s transparent.
The 30,000-square-foot auditorium initially had seating for 2,812 guests.
Acoustical Renovation of Roy Thomson Hall
In 2002, the auditorium underwent a $20+ million acoustical reengineering altering its size, design and shape. One of the major updates included adding 23 multi-layered wooden bulkheads to the upper chamber. This brought reflective surfaces closer to the audience, creating better sound.
Other updates included replacing the clear acrylic discs suspended over the stage with two adjustable wooden canopies. The stage was lengthened and refinished as well as the auditorium floor with Canadian maple. The capacity was reduced to 2,630 seats, and the seating on the main floor was divided between two aisles for better access.
Roy Herbert Thomson was a Canadian-born newspaper magnate named after Baron Thomson of Fleet.
The opening night gala was on September 13, 1982, and was televised live on CBC.
In 1992, the building received heritage status from the city.
From the mid-1910s until 1977, the location of Roy Thomson Hall was once home to the Canadian Pacific Express General Office Building and freight sheds. The demolition of the office building was controversial as it was considered an important example of Toronto’s early 20th-century industrial architecture. After its demolition and during Roy Thomson Hall’s construction, the site temporarily became a parking lot.
From 1867 until 1912, the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, known as the Government House, stood at the southwest corner of King St W and Simcoe St, where the concert hall stands today. The prior government residence, located on the same site, had been destroyed by fire in 1862.