The St. John’s Chapel Atrium is +VG’s contemporary addition to the complex of heritage buildings from different eras, which together, make up the St. Michael’s Cathedral site.

Above grade, the Atrium is a modern multipurpose space, creating a cloister-like link between the 1890s Chapel, the administrative and residential accommodation of the 1845 Rectory, and the early 20th Century Sacristies – the ancillary spaces serving the main worship space of the Cathedral Nave. On the exterior, the palette of materials has been carefully chosen to complement that of the existing buildings and maintain the continuity between the different eras represented on site. The interior is simple and reverent, with fair-faced concrete block, wood and slate providing a backdrop to the conserved west façade of St. John’s Chapel and a stained-glass window, relocated from its original home in the Cathedral’s Narthex, which are highlighted as the main visual features of the space. The west façade opens out through tall glazed doors onto a summer terrace under a glass canopy, creating a transitional space between the Atrium interior and the quiet gardens of the Rectory.

Below grade, the Atrium addition contains a new 3,000 ft² basement housing a state-of-the-art Central Utilities plant, providing modern heating, cooling and power systems which have been discretely distributed and integrated throughout the whole complex. This coordination and integration of services has been a key part of +VG’s work at St. Michael’s Cathedral, maintaining the character-defining qualities of the existing heritage buildings, while providing them with the environmental control and high-tech infrastructure of a modern facility, all of which must have been unthinkable at the time the Cathedral was originally built.


Toronto, Ontario




4,800 ft²


Renovation & Addition


David Henderson (+VG Architects)