Oshawa Cultural Hub Feasibility Study

The City of Oshawa engaged Nordicity and Giaimo to explore the possibility of transforming the Arts Resource Centre at 45 Queen Street into a Cultural Hub. The Hub will be an affordable, accessible, and inclusive space for creative participation. It will be a place where residents, artists, and organizations can come together to experience, support, and participate in artistic, cultural, and heritage activities.


City of Oshawa


Oshawa, Canada

Start Date


Completion Date



Draft Report Stage


Feasibility Study

Cultural, Public Sector

Renovation & Addition


Nordicity & Giaimo


The purpose of the Feasibility Study is to assess the existing A.R.C. to evaluate current operations (e.g. program and facility), recommend a new operating model (including program delivery and function), and facility and building enhancements. Giaimo’s scope of work as the lead architect and designers included developing three concept design options that explored how the existing 10,000sq.ft. building could be adaptively reused, either through renovation, new additions, or a combination of both. This involved massing studies, drawings, and the development of design guidelines.

Through a facility assessment, Nordicity and Giaimo found that the A.R.C. is a suitable site and is equipped for transformation into a Cultural Hub in downtown Oshawa. Although the building presents challenges, the architectural foundation and design can be leveraged to create a space that is both functional and embodies design excellence. Transforming this building would be a form of adaptive reuse, which conserves the cultural, architectural, and historic value of the building, and offers an environmentally sustainable option for re-using existing infrastructure.

Giaimo developed 3 different concepts that differ in size and features, ranging from a 12,000sqft renovation of the existing building, to a 25,000sq.ft. transformation with renovation and new additions. All 3 concepts also include a shared vision, design guidelines and key features for the Cultural Hub: sustainable design through adaptive reuse and green building principles, light-filled studios and gallery that offer welcoming programming, an auditorium for performances, talks, and other cultural events, and new outdoor spaces for expanded arts activities.

The 3 options were shared with the public in-person an online so that anyone could review the designs and provide feedback and their preferences. The goal was to understand which conceptual design and scale best resonated with the Oshawa community, to help inform the Feasibility Study’s final recommendations. The final report is currently awaiting staff and Council approval.


The project started with public engagement and community consultation to help develop a vision for an accessible and inclusive space and understand the needs of various users and community groups. To ensure this process is meaningful and inclusive, this study included feedback and consultation with: Oshawa’s residents, Practicing artists, and Culture and creative sector workers, organizations and other facilities. An online public survey was involved, and Giaimo designed boards showing the 3 design concept options to get public feedback. The proposed options include offices for diverse organizations, a theatre, cafe, workshops and studios.


The Arts Resource Centre (A.R.C), currently located at 45 Queen St., was originally constructed in 1952 as the Athol Street police station. It served as a building for the Oshawa police and as a courtroom. The building was used for this initial purpose until the year 1972 when it was re-purposed by social service groups. During this time spaces within the building began to be modified to serve as artist studios and the building was renamed to the Oshawa Arts Resource Centre. Throughout its time as the A.R.C., the building has been modified to accommodate the various needs of the Oshawa arts community. The most notable transformations occurred to the building in 1986 with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture as well as the City of Oshawa

The original building was composed of three defining materials and volumes: concrete glass, and masonry brick. These materials are used to break up and define elements of the building. Since the original construction of the building in 1952, significant modifications have been made to the surrounding context and public realm. Most notable of these was the removal of Athol Street which previously extended to the Oshawa Creek. The removal of the street coincided with the construction of City Hall in 1970.

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