Insights: David Mirvish


My business card says “Producer”.

And after 50 years in the theatre business, I’ve learned one thing about producing a ‘hit’ for the stage… the success of opening night is as much about the process as it is the production.

Before the last line of dialogue is memorized, the choreography locked, and the opening night curtain gets raised, hundreds and hundreds of talented people take the writer’s original draft through readings, workshops, auditions, rehearsals, rewrites, tech runs, and preview performances.

Every ‘overnight’ success on the stage takes years of work, and the input of many.

Producing great theatre relies on an iterative process in which the creativity and professional skills of a team create a final expression that- while still true to the original concept- has been honed and finessed into something far greater.

It is this appreciation for the creative process that has guided our redevelopment proposal for our properties on King West, and influenced our selection of a lead architect.

At a media conference in October 2012 we publicly unveiled our initial development concept and our choice of architect- the internationally renowned, Frank Gehry.

The design Mr. Gehry and I introduced included the vision of a candelabra, with three sculptural towers; a dynamic base intended to enhance the public realm; space for an art gallery, and OCAD University.

We presented an initial concept that day which was to be the first step in our creative process. We always recognized that the development plan we presented was an initial draft which would evolve and improve through the collaborative process that was about to unfold.

Mr. Gehry himself acknowledged to the media that it was “precarious to show any kind of architecture at these early stages…” He went on to caution that what was being envisioned for the site and shared with the world at that point was “not a final design. If you look at my work, I do about 50 models. So it will evolve…”

Today, approximately 18 months since the project’s introduction, Mr. Gehry and his team at FOGA have produced more than 40 models, and as intended, the vision has evolved.

Lead by Peter Kofman of Projectcore, our development team has, for nearly two years, pursued an iterative process designed to create a final reality that would eclipse our initial vision.

Through collaboration with urban planning and design staff at the City, dialogue with local politicians, and detailed consultations with a city-appointed Working Group of local stakeholders, the process has recently lead to an evolved scheme, and a refined approach to the project that is both dignified and humane.

Today we have a plan for the site that includes two iconic towers and an enhanced public realm; affords us the ability to include both an art gallery and new campus space for OCAD University; preserves the Princess of Wales Theatre (something I’m very pleased about); and, protects many of the architecturally significant, heritage components currently on the property.

Toronto’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat suggests that planning staff are “absolutely thrilled” with the results of the process, noting that the current scheme is “better than the project that existed before.”

And while the Chief Planner’s review is appreciated, we are not ready for the curtain to rise on Mirvish + Gehry Toronto just yet… like any great show, our cast must continue the process of honing and fine tuning our latest production, to ensure its ready for opening night.

After all; I’m a Producer.


David Mirvish,
Mirvish Productions