MacLaren Art Centre

Barrie, ON

Project Facts

  • Client

    Maclaren Art Centre

  • Location

    Barrie, ON

  • Status

    Completed 2001

  • Size

    25,000 Sq. Ft.

  • Partner

The design of the MacLaren Art Centre was conceived with the idea of the gallery as a place for the community to come together, and was inspired by a commitment to openness, transparency, and the demystification of art. To this end, HPA integrated the historic Carnegie Library (c. 1917) with a new wing and an internal sculpture courtyard. The main entrance draws visitors in at the junction of the new addition and the historic Library. The spacious, sky-lit lobby creates an immediate sense of welcome with a fireplace and café/shop. This unobstructed space leads downwards into the education studio, and upwards into galleries in the heritage structure.


Compared to some institutions, the MacLaren’s gallery rooms are not very big. However, long views create a sense of expansiveness—one can look down stairs, into adjacent rooms, and through windows, to spaces inside and out. Large windows and carefully placed skylights fill spaces with natural light. The idea of openness is reinforced by making the café, shop, and various activities visible from the street. Outside, thoughtful landscaping underscores the civic grandeur of the former Carnegie Library. The Centre has become a regional leader because its secure, environmentally controlled exhibition spaces meet professional museum standards, allowing it to host significant artworks and touring exhibits.The project received the 2003 National Post Design Exchange Award of Merit.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Maclaren Art Centre

  • Location

    Barrie, ON

  • Status

    Completed 2001

  • Size

    25,000 Sq. Ft.

  • Partner

Select Awards

  • 2003 – National Post/Design Exchange Award of Merit

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Institutional A: (less than $10 million)

  • 2002 – The City of Barrie Barrie Urban Design Awards

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“Under the leadership of Siamak Hariri, the HPA team performed remarkably. In developing the architectural programme they did more than simply listening with sensitivity to gain a deep understanding – they became us and felt our needs. We experienced the firm’s commitment in the creation of a facility that will stand the test of time and be what it is – a great building.”
—William Moore, Former Executive Director of the MacLaren Art Centre
“Under the leadership of Siamak Hariri, the HPA team performed remarkably. In developing the architectural programme they did more than simply listening with sensitivity to gain a deep understanding – they became us and felt our needs. We experienced the firm’s commitment in the creation of a facility that will stand the test of time and be what it is – a great building.”
—William Moore, Former Executive Director of the MacLaren Art Centre

New and existing facades were seamlessly combined in the preservation the historic Carnegie Library and the alteration of the 1964 renovation. 

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New and existing facades were seamlessly combined in the preservation the historic Carnegie Library and the alteration of the 1964 renovation. 

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The staircase leading down from the Gallery Café to the lower Mulcaster Landing features Canadian artist John McEwen’s work, Radio. Visible from the street, the perforate stars on the flame-cut corten steel installation are animated by motion, shimmering as people pass by.

The staircase leading down from the Gallery Café to the lower Mulcaster Landing features Canadian artist John McEwen’s work, Radio. Visible from the street, the perforate stars on the flame-cut corten steel installation are animated by motion, shimmering as people pass by.

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Select Awards

  • 2003 – National Post/Design Exchange Award of Merit

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Institutional A: (less than $10 million)

  • 2002 – The City of Barrie Barrie Urban Design Awards