The O’Keefe Centre, known today as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, is located at 1 Front Street East, sitting on roughly 2.5 acres of sloped land on the corner of Front and Yonge Street, in the heart of the City of Toronto. The chief architect was Earle C. Morgan and he worked in association with one of Toronto’s most decorated firms at the time, Page and Steele, and their principal designer, Peter Dickinson (Watkiss 1). The theatre was an innovative design motivated by the International style and it’s Canada’s largest soft-seat theatre.
The Sony Centre is four stories high and is broken up into three main forms, the entrance block, auditorium and fly tower. The central form of the building is highly symmetrical with an open floor plan. Structurally, the Sony Centre is not overly complicated and uses steel trusses and concrete to hold the majority of the building together. In addition to the structure, the Sony Centre auditorium houses a very sophisticated acoustic system, which gives the audience the sense that the sound is surrounding them (Canadian Architect 18). When it comes to materiality the majority of the original materials are still in the building today. Materials used include: Alabama limestone, glazing, granite, copper, bronze, Carrara marble, carpet, cherry plywood panels and Brazilian Rosewood. The Sony Centre is very diverse with its range of materials and used them in such a way that the unique forms of the building are not over shadowing them.
The Sony Centre is well composed, but I found that its interior, if you can believe it, is its greatest element because of the numerous architectural gems throughout the inside. Some elements include: a grand double-height foyer with coffered ceilings, a 30 metre wide mural by the famous Toronto-born artist R. York Wilson, cantilevering staircases that appear to be floating, bright bronze auditorium doors, and a fan-shaped auditorium with a huge curving balcony. The Sony Centre is still and forever will be a historic local landmark in Toronto. It introduced a modernist twist to the traditional theatre and kick started the transformation of the area into a cultural Mecca.
– Justin Picone
O’Keefe, John. “Sound Strategies.” Canadian Architect 43.3 (March 1998): 18-19.
Watkiss, Ulli S., comp. O’Keefe Centre. Rep. Toronto, 2008. 1 Front Street East O’Keefe Centre. City of Toronto, 25 June 2008. 10 Oct. 2010. <http://www.toronto.ca/involved/statutorynotices/archive2008/jun/hl_id_062508_1.htm>