Young Center For The Performing Arts



Gooderham and Worts was originally founded by James Worts, a British immigrant, in 1832.   The company Became one of the worlds largest distilleries and in 1859 they constructed the largest distillery in Canada, also one of the largest in North America.  This distillery is what remains today as the ‘Distillery District’ at the bottom of Trinity Street in Toronto, Ontario (See Figure 1).   In the first year of the new distillery, G&W produced 849,700 U.S. gallons of proof spirits, a value equivalent to one quarter of the entire Canadian production at that time (Blocker 272).

What is now known as the Young Center For the Performing Arts was originally built as tank house 9 and tank house 10, part of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery.   The buildings were constructed in 1888 following the 1885 Canadian law which states that all whisky must be aged for two years before being consumed.  Prior to this law, whisky was often consumed quickly after it was distilled (; this meant that Gooderham and Worts needed to increase storage space for their product.  Both structures were designed by David Roberts Jr. who designed many of the Distillery’s buildings (

Currently the two tank houses with their additions/renovations house a performance center which combines studio spaces with theatre spaces.  The building is a partnership between the Soul Pepper Theatre company and the George Brown Theatre School.  The building houses four theaters and four studio spaces, all of which are shared by the two entities that make up the owners of the complex.

Designed by Toronto Firm KPMB, the building’s formal qualities are largely derived from the tank houses which make up most of the buildings footprint.  The north and south faces of the tank houses have been purposefully left bare in the original Victorian style which they are constructed.  The renovation of the structures adds two main interventions into the exterior envelope of the tank houses.  Both interventions occur as infill between the structures.


Works Cited

Blocker, Jack S., David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: an International Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Print.

Gibson, Sally. “Adaptive Reuse: Buildings 49 & 50 Young Centre for the Performing Arts.” Distillery District Heritage Website. 1 June 2008. Web. 16 Oct. 2010. <http://>.

South elevation looking West along tank house lane


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