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'Once in spring...', 401 Richmond | ©  ^ Missi ^ / Flickr
'Once in spring...', 401 Richmond | © ^ Missi ^ / Flickr

Toronto's Arts Hub: 401 Richmond Has It All

Picture of Dr. Oishimaya Sen Nag
Updated: 28 December 2016
Welcome to 401 Richmond, downtown Toronto’s thriving centre of art, culture, and creativity. This industrial, heritage-listed building is home to over 140 tenants, artists, galleries, shops, micro-enterprises and cultural producers. The charm, uniqueness and aesthetic beauty of 401 Richmond make it popular among the art and cultural pros of this bustling, multicultural city while also attracting culture-loving visitors. Read on to discover what 401 Richmond is all about – and then be sure to check it out for yourself.

401 Richmond’s Early Days

The history of 401 Richmond dates back to the early years of the 20th century when the Macdonald Manufacturing Company, famed for manufacturing tinware in Canada with the finest lithography, occupied space at the building. The construction of the building was initiated in 1899, and between 1903 and 1923, the building was expanded into four storeys. After the procurement of the Macdonald Manufacturing Company by Continental Can of Canada in 1944, the latter occupied the premises of 401 Richmond until 1967. Since then, over the next 25 years, the ownership of the building passed through several hands. Finally, in 1944 – following a nearly bankrupt state – 401 Richmond sprang back to prominence when the Zeidler family acquired ownership of the building. After that, there was no looking back, and 401 Richmond underwent a massive resurrection from a rundown factory to a cultural hub hosting brilliant artistic minds within its perfect settings.

Touring 401 Richmond: Galleries & Studios

Each and every floor of 401 Richmond is filled with exciting galleries and cultural hubs that offer a rich, artistic experience to tourists visiting the building. The main floor of the building houses nine galleries with their distinct cultural themes. Check out the Musideum, with its rare instruments, and the Swipe Design Books + Objects, with its contemporary collection of books on architecture, design, urbanism and other subjects.

Wonderful encountering the Leah Garnett installation @redheadgallery during our #LastWednesdays tour.

A photo posted by 401 Richmond (@401richmond) on

The second floor is both a working studio and gallery unto itself – with hanging portraits and stairwells with tropical plants. Studios of 401’s artists – including sculptors, visual artists, clothing designers, and others – can be found on this floor, offering a unique glimpse into the artistic practise. The skywalk, connecting the north and south wings of 401 Richmond, accessible from this floor, offers a picturesque view of the entire building.

The third and fourth floors are home to the building’s creative tenants: from writers to painters, photographers, magazine publishers, video-makers, art advocates, and others.

Heading underground? 401 Richmond also has a basement which is alive and thriving with tenants who are part of dance and music companies, music recording studios, holography labs and more.

For further details about 401 Richmond’s tenants and their stories, projects and activities, head here.


The Roastery Coffee House

Be sure to visit The Roastery Coffee House, located on the main floor. It’s the perfect spot to discuss new trends in art and culture over a cup of coffee – or to simply caffeinate, read, or study. The lively, green courtyard offers a welcome outdoor experience to the tenants and visitors.


A photo posted by Yasmin Bakhtiari (@yasmin_bakhtiari) on

Gardens & Greens

What nurtures those creative minds better than a bit of greenery? From its rooftop gardens to its hallways, there’s no shortage of nature at 401 Richmond.


The Rooftop Gardens

The building supports a lush, green, flowering rooftop garden at its top. The brainchild of Mike Moody, property manager of 401 Richmond, the garden has a sprawling cedar deck of 6,500 square feet hosting a great diversity of beautiful flowering plants, trailing vines and verdurous bushes. Another nearly 3,000 square feet of the rooftop garden is covered by a lush blanket of sedum. A 40-foot greenhouse acts as a haven for the tropical plants during winter and as a nursery for delicate saplings before their exposure to nature’s elements. The rooftop garden ensures the building’s hard-working tenants have some time with nature during their rare non-working hours. A downtown view of Toronto – complete with the CN Tower – is visible from this rooftop garden. The garden is also part of an environmental project, where the herbs and vegetables grown here are utilized by ground floor café of 401 Richmond; in turn, the organic waste generated in the café is used as compost for the garden plants.

#tbt to warmer days ☀️🌴😎 #Repost @wonderboimel with @repostapp. ・・・ Rooftop gardening.

A photo posted by 401 Richmond (@401richmond) on

401’s Courtyard

401 Richmond also holds a sprawling, green courtyard in its heart, just beyond the main lobby. You’ll find cedar benches, tall, canopy-creating trees, flowering beds and a sand box for children. Vines and ivy climbing the walls of the building surround the courtyard, which is often filled with the laughter of children from Studio 123 Early Learning Centre. A spiral staircase running down from all four levels of 401 Richmond makes it easy to stop by for fresh air.

Bringing The Outdoors In

Winters are also no less fun at 401 Richmond when the outdoor plants are hosted in the hallways and common spaces of the building, lending an aesthetic quality to the space and ensuring the tenants feel the warmth and spirit of natural bounties indoors, even when outside temperatures are freezing and all greenery outdoors is shrouded with white snow. 

Hall of flora. . . . . #vsco #vscocam #toronto #401richmond #explore #createcommune #explorecreate #travel #untoldvisuals

A photo posted by Stirling Myles (@stirlingmyles) on

401 Richmond also plans to introduce a comprehensive recycling program to encourage its tenants to use green principles and inculcate eco-friendly practices in their daily activities.


Special Events

401 Richmond thrives with activity year-round, hosting events including gala gallery openings, inspiring film festivals, exclusive screenings, interactive workshops, engrossing talks by established artists, gatherings of the creative community and much more – including regular markets and one-of-a-kind art sales.

The online Gallery Guide of 401 Richmond mentions the details of its hosted galleries and their trending events. It is also possible to subscribe to the mailing list of 401 Richmond to stay up-to-date regarding the latest events being hosted at the building. Some of the upcoming events here include Last Wednesdays of Fall, 2016; Village in A Box on May 28 and 29; Built For Art: A Living Archive on October, 2016, and Holiday Open House between December 8-11, 2016.

401 Richmond is open to public throughout the week with the exception of Sunday. Public visiting hours:

Monday to Friday: 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am-6:00 pm

401 Richmond is also available for event rental space or to conduct photography and/or filming sessions or workshops. Contact 401 Richmond here.

401 Richmond, 401 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, + 1 416 595 5900