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Member Highlight: 401 Richmond

Built at the turn of the 20th century as a tin lithography factory, 401 Richmond Street West is a historic warehouse in downtown Toronto that is now a thriving cultural hub and home to some of the city’s most engaging artists, designers, producers, microenterprises, galleries, festivals and retailers. In 1994, the Zeidler Family purchased the property and transformed it into a vibrant home for artists, galleries, film festivals, charities, non-profits, magazines, architects, theatre groups and design firms. The building’s renewal, which occurred 25 years ago, was inspired by author Jane Jacobs’ observation that “new ideas need old buildings” and the importance of diversity and mixed-uses in the city. One of Toronto’s key arts centres, 401 Richmond is a must-see destination for locals and visitors alike with twelve galleries, three retail spaces and two cafés. As a cornerstone venue for many city-wide and building-wide cultural events such as, Art Hunt, Doors Open, SPARty, Nuit Blanche and Holiday Open House, 401 Richmond presents a unique and dynamic program of engagements annually.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

Hosting events is central to 401 Richmond’s function as an arts and cultural hub. Events at 401 Richmond focus on connecting people inside and outside the building to foster a community and promote a thriving creative economy. Art Hunt is a free, family-friendly community-building initiative that sends participants in search of wooden eggs supplied by 401 and each uniquely decorated by tenants. Doors Open Toronto organized by the City of Toronto, provides an opportunity to see inside some of Toronto’s most significant buildings across the city. 401 Richmond invites visitors to enjoy guided tours, live performances, demonstrations, artist talks, and gain rare public access to the rooftop garden. The annual block party SPARty is exclusively for the employees of buildings in the block bordered by Spadina, Peter, Adelaide and Richmond. Building neighbours enjoy the summer weather, each other’s company, sampling from local food trucks and breweries, live music, art-making demonstrations, and engaging displays to help everyone get better acquainted. Presented in partnership with Nuit Blanche Toronto, Built for Art is 401 Richmond’s curatorial initiative exploring the personality and role as an arts and cultural hub. Throughout the 12-hour event, 401 Richmond teems with dynamic and interactive exhibitions, installations and performances showcasing the iconic address that continues to transform Toronto’s cultural landscape. Holiday Open House kicks off the holiday season as 401 Richmond welcomes the public to participate in free artist and designer studio tours, enjoy live performances, swap and trade ornaments and create all-recycled decorations. In 2018, The City of Toronto created the new building class Creative Co-Location Facility taxed at a lower rate for spaces like 401 that offer lower than market value rents to creative industries, allowing the building to remain an affordable cultural hub in the downtown core.

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

One of the favourite resources that 401 Richmond would recommend is the rooftop garden named Lesley’s Garden to honour and celebrate the life of dear friend and colleague, Lesley Soden. The rooftop is a 6,500 square foot cedar deck and haven for our tenants to enjoy for meetings, lunch or an opportunity enjoy the fresh air. In the summertime, the rooftop comes alive with a myriad of flowers, vines, bushes, fresh vegetables and herbs planted and maintained by our Urban Agriculture Coordinator. We’ve recently started selling some of the rooftop bounty at building-wide events including exfoliating soaps made with rooftop-grown luffas, and tomato and herb seedlings perfect for containers and balconies. We feel incredibly fortunate to have our green urban oasis right in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Center Name: 401 Richmond

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Center Website:  www.401richmond.com

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