A milestone in Vaughan's cultural and architectural growth could be in the offing as the City of Vaughan and QuadReal Property Group have inked a Memorandum of Understanding to move ahead on a Vaughan Performing and Cultural Arts Centre. To be located in the Assembly Park area of the broader Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC), the new public institution could become a cornerstone of the city's nascent downtown core.


Artist impression concept for VMC Performing & Cultural Arts Centre, designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for QuadReal Property Group and City of Vaughan

The signing ceremony, held on June 20th, was attended by Vaughan’s Mayor Steven Del Duca and representatives from QuadReal. Designed by Giannone Petricone Associates, the centre is anticipated to open between 2029 and 2032. The MOU is set to guide the planning for the physical infrastructure as well as the financial, operational, and design frameworks essential for the centre.

Assembly Park, developed by QuadReal and Menkes Developments, spans 83 acres along Highway 7, between Highway 400 and Jane Street. Since the University Line 1 extension to Vaughan in 2017, the area has witnessed rapid development with multiple high-rise projects.

The Vaughan Performing and Cultural Arts Centre has been supported by study and planning phases, dating back to 2018 when the City first commissioned a feasibility study. By 2019, the Phase 1 Feasibility Study was completed, estimating that it could stimulate over $100 million in economic activity, injecting over $2.5 million annually into the local economy. Subsequent phases focused on site selection and refining operational models, culminating in the completion of Phase 2 in late 2021.

The feasibility study presents four distinct development options. Option 1 proposes an Integrated Podium, where the cultural arts centre would occupy a 2 to 3-storey structure within the podium of a larger residential or commercial development. This option outlines a program area of 3,980m² and a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 6,169m². Option 2, the Pavilion, envisions the arts centre as a 2-storey standalone structure set within a parkland setting. It would have a slightly larger GFA of 6,368m².

Aerial view of artist impression concept for VMC Performing & Cultural Arts Centre, designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for QuadReal Property Group and City of Vaughan


Meanwhile, Option 3 calls for a Design/Build/Finance (DBF) model, integrating the cultural centre within the podium of a larger project, with 70% of design fees transferred to the DBF proponent, with the land leased for 30 years. Lastly, Option 4 proposes a Capital Lease arrangement, where the centre would function under a 20-year capital lease within a development. These latter options would have the same program and GFA footprint as Option 1.

Under any option, the program concept is similar. A Main Hall would be a 545m² multipurpose venue with high-finish, flexible features, including retractable seating that could accommodate up to 400 guests. This space would be designed to host a variety of events from live performances and digital media presentations to festivals and private functions such as banquets.

A 185m² Performance Lab would provide space for experimental and developmental art forms, and seat about 100 people. This lab space would be suitable for rehearsals, smaller performances, and educational events, complemented by less technically sophisticated but highly versatile facilities.

Artist impression concept aerial view of VMC Performing & Cultural Arts Centre, designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for QuadReal Property Group and City of Vaughan

The centre would also include several auxiliary spaces, such as artist studios, a community program room, and administrative offices, which support the daily operations and creative processes of the cultural centre.

In the meantime, Assembly Park’s current development surge is unfolding with VMC Block 6E which is planned to introduce five buildings from 15 to 46 storeys, while Block 4S is set to develop three towers from 18 to 55 storeys. Festival Condominiums is currently under construction, with its first phase comprising four towers between 41 to 59 storeys and a second phase that will add three more towers standing 36 to 45 storeys. To the north of Highway 7, the Park Place VMC plans for two high towers at 48 and 56 storeys, and 3300 Highway 7 is set to see the rise of three towers from 15 to 58 storeys.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story credited the wrong architectural firm. The story has been corrected.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Giannone Petricone Associates, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Menkes Developments, QuadReal Property Group