Photograph courtesy of AGO Photographer, Carlo Catenazzi. © Art Gallery of Ontario.
Scaffolding and tarpaulins have now been removed from the AGO’s south façade to reveal a signature feature of the Frank Gehry design: the barnacle staircase. Dubbed “barnacle” by the Gehry architects because of the way it projects out from the exterior of the building, this staircase connects the fourth and fifth levels of the south tower, which will house the Gallery’s Centre for Contemporary Art.
The barnacle staircase was not part of the original schematic design. It was added by Frank Gehry in response to feedback by artists advising on the design for the Centre for Contemporary Art, who felt that a special connectivity was needed between the Centre’s two floors. The placement of the staircase on the exterior of the building also responded to encouragement by the AGO’s local neighbourhood to give the south façade a distinguishing feature. The AGO’s south façade with its barnacle staircase is now a unique landmark that can be clearly seen from the Rogers Centre up John Street.