A New Life for Old City Hall

November 2016

Sparking creative thinking to inspire public discussion around future uses for Toronto's Old City Hall.


The City of Toronto must consider how to repurpose a historic and iconic building for a variety of potential public, private, and civic uses. In addition, the City must also consider how a city museum could be incorporated into the space. This report examines examples of creatively programmed city museums that illuminate a city’s past and engage with its present, and new ideas for old buildings from around the globe.


Authored by Sam Carter-Shamai and Claire Nelischer

The authors wish to express thanks to the following organizations and individuals who provided information, interviews, and images to assist in the production of this report:

  • Canadian Centre for Architecture
  • City of Toronto
  • Design Exchange
  • The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
  • MoMA PS1
  • The Theatre Centre
  • The Royal Conservatory of Music
  • Daphne Yuen
  • Anthony Sotomayor

“Toronto is one of the few remaining large cities without a museum dedicated to its history. The location and accessibility of Old City Hall could be a fantastic opportunity to realize its potential, but more is needed than merely placing artifacts and other collectibles into the 1889 Romanesque Revival building. This is where the report looks at case studies—both local and international—to draw inspiration from. ”

Greg LipinskiUrban Toronto