Venues by Design: Toronto’s Newest Mega Venues

Great Hall _ Theatre Style

As event planners, we are always waiting with bated breath for a new exciting venue to open.  Selecting a new venue can help to refresh an existing event or be a launch pad for a new one.  It can also be an added enticement to guests who want to experience something new.

Finding the right venue for your event is one of the most critical decisions you will make.

Toronto has two new event spots that we can all get excited about.

Union Station

Union Station is Canada’s busiest, most important multi-modal passenger transportation hub, a designated National Historic Site and a significant part of Toronto’s history and identity. More than a quarter-million people use Union Station daily. The City of Toronto is leading Union Station’s multi-year revitalization to reshape the way people experience Union Station.

Osmington (Union Station) Inc. won the Head Lease and is overseeing the design vision for the commercial space, created by a collaboration of design and architectural consultants with PARTISANS as lead architects.   The collective goal is to make Union Station an international culinary, cultural, design and retail mecca, and – lucky for us – a spectacular venue for events.

They will have six amazing rentable spaces.

The Great Hall

Despite the primary utility of Union being a train station, one which operates as a bustling gateway for millions of people each year, there is a sense of calm in the Great Hall. Beautiful soft light fills the space in the morning as it filters through the arched pane glass window. Steeped in history and character, and charged with the kinetic energy of Toronto, the Great Hall of Union Station creates a sense of awe for any who pass through it.  It has a capacity to hold 360 for a seated dinner and 500 standing.  This space is currently available as is.  It will be available fully renovated in Q4 2018.

Space is perfect for:

  • Awards Ceremonies
  • VIP Dinners
  • Annual Meetings
  • Galas
  • Concerts
  • Speakers and Lectures
  • Spoken word and Poetry
  • Cocktail receptions
  • Film Screenings

The West Wing

With its marble floors and pillars that stretch to the ornate sky light ceiling, the West Wing is a study in grandeur. Once rejuvenated, the West Wing will be a hotspot location for private functions, community and cultural events.  It can be used in conjunction with the Oak Room or on its own. It has a capacity to hold 260 for a seated dinner and 400 standing.  This space will be available in Q3 2016.

The Oak Room

Union Station’s Oak Room echoes the glamour and elegance of private clubrooms or jazz lounges of days past. Complete with oak panel walls and marble flooring, and attached to the West Wing, the Oak Room is perfect for any type of event whether it be private or public in nature.  Capacities will be determined once the space has been built.  This space is currently under construction and will be available for catered events in Q4 2018.

Space is perfect for:

  • Press Conferences
  • Annual Meetings
  • Galas
  • Small Concerts
  • Speakers and Lectures
  • Corporate Functions
  • Trunk Shows

The East Carriageway

The softly lit bowed ceilings and brick walls of the East Carriageway are reminiscent of a wine cellar of French tradition. Warm and welcoming, but also the most private and exclusive of the Union Station venues, the atmosphere of the East Carriageway is perfect for hosting intimate dinner parties, book readings or an aptly suited wine tastings.  Capacities will be determined once the space has been built.  This space is currently under construction and will be available Q4 2018.

The West Carriageway

With its spectacular glass rooftop which peaks onto Front Street, the West Carriageway allows for the ambiance of any season to filter into your event, whether it is a romantic winter snowfall or a warm summer sunset. The West Carriageway feels airy and spacious: a striking counterpart to the adjoined East Carriageway. You can use both for an arresting contrast or allow the West Carriageway to shine all on its own. Perfect for large dinner parties, cocktail events, after-parties or speaker series, the West Carriageway provides your guests a glimpse of Toronto, and Toronto, a glimpse of your event.  Capacities will be determined once the space has been built.   This space is currently under construction and will be available Q4 2018.

Sir John A. MacDonald Plaza

Truly the front doorstep of Toronto and the gateway to Canada, the newly renovated plaza has been home to successful outdoor markets, both in the summer and winter. Both Union Summer and Union Holiday operated 7 days a week, over several months, with a frequent rotation of vendors and entertainment programming. The offering showcased the `Best of Toronto,’ including independent restaurants, food stalls, retailers and artisans. Through these successful programs, the plaza has proven it can be a culinary, retail and cultural destination for Torontonians and tourists alike. This space is currently available.

On a side note, you may be interested to know the confirmed tenant list to date:

Go York Concourse

McCafé, Starbucks, Booster Juice, Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake, International News, The Bagel Stop

Great Hall 

Pilot Coffee (temporary kiosk)

York Street Promenade 

Tim Hortons (temporary kiosk), Union Chicken, Burger’s Priest

Front Street Promenade

Danish Pastry House, Loding, Ugly Dukling, Greenhouse Juice, Pilot Coffee, Urban Herbivore

Union Eatery 

Shanghai 360, Paramount Fine Foods, Scaccia

11 Polson

Ink Entertainment, Canada’s leading lifestyle and entertainment company led by visionary entrepreneur Charles Khabouth, is launching 11 Polson (formally the old Sound Academy).  It is an exceptional, premier world-class space that will function as a state-of-the-art live concert venue, a versatile corporate event space and a spectacular dance space for club nights.  It is scheduled to open May 28, 2016.

Designed by Studio Munge, the 45,000 square foot space will be a visual and architectural masterpiece.  It will feature two floors with a private VIP entrance, sprawling views of the city skyline and a seamless connection to the luxury outdoor lounge, Cabana PoolBar.   The colour scheme is black and gold and will feature high gloss contemporary surfaces, unusual animalistic and vegetal patterns and subversive graphics, a sculpted ceiling, along with state-of-the-art visual displays.

The venue has five rentable spaces and has been designed to provide event planners with a full turn-key solution and one that creates a complete sensory experience for guests.  It will have a state-of-the art sound system, advanced LED lighting technology, along with multiple bars, each with their own design concepts through-out the spaces.   There will be multiple rigging points in the ceiling to accommodate a variety of installations, as well as wide enough doors to move in things like a luxury vehicle for display.  The whole facility will have brand new luxury washroom facilities.

The Main Room (still to be appropriately named) will feature a 65 foot stage with an expansive installation of LED video walls.  Along the sides will be lush VIP booths that will offer unobstructed views of the main stage.    It will have the capacity to hold 670 people for a seated dinner and 1,500 people standing.

The City Bar will have incredible views of the Toronto Skyline and waterfront, as well as glass doors that will connect this space to the Cabana PoolBar.  There will be a retractable sliding wall that will separate it from the Main Room.  It will have the capacity to hold 500 people standing.

There will be no major changes to an existing space called the Solarium.  It has a contemporary and stylish design and an unsurpassed panoramic view.  It is perched on the second floor at the edge of Lake Ontario overlooking the stunning City skyline.   The 5,750 sq. ft. unique all-glass room features a retractable ceiling, double-sided fireplaces, two patios, a private entrance and elevator. It has a capacity to hold 240 for a seated dinner and 600 standing.

VIP 1 (Lakeview) and VIP 2 (Stage Right) are exclusive backstage clubs.  VIP 1 is an intimate dynamic side club that will feature impressive views of the city.  It will have the capacity to hold 80 people seated and 150 people standing.  VIP 2 is situated discretely away from the main stage and will have the capacity to hold 70 people seated and 150 standing.

The venue also has 600 parking spots.

Special thanks to the following individuals for their value time:

  • Jeff Wojcik, Director of Corporate Events and Sales, INK Entertainment
  • Elaine Quan, Director of Publicity, INK Entertainment
  • Charlene Lo, Union Brand & Communications
  • Jeanette Janzen-Jones, Union, Programming & Special Events
[author image=”” ]Hala Bissada is an international award-winning event-producer, one of Canada’s foremost event fundraisers and an industry Thought-Leader. Prior to establishing Hala Events, she spent 5 years with SickKids Foundation and 8 years with Children’s Aid Foundation managing their high-profile event portfolios. In 2013, she earned the coveted Best Industry Contribution Award at the ISES Esprit awards for establishing the Ryerson University Special Event Certificate Program where she currently teaches the curriculum. Hala was also recognized as Event Professional of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Event Industry Star Awards and in 2010, received the Alumni Award of Distinction from her alma mater, Ryerson University. On a personal note, Hala completed an Ironman in 2004 and loves to ride her motorcycle.[/author]