Benjamin Brown: Architect

A first ever exhibition featuring Benjamin Brown, one of Toronto’s most significant architects of the early 20th century.

The Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre (OJA) presents the work of Architect, Benjamin Brown (1890-1974), whose career made a significant and lasting impact on Toronto’s built heritage. Brown’s buildings—the Balfour and Tower Buildings, the Hermant Building, the Primrose ClubBeth Jacob Synagogue—are exquisite examples of Brown’s mastery of the au courant Art Deco styles while also incorporating the more traditional architectural tropes of the period. Brown’s iconic loft-style buildings on lower Spadina express his signature style that characterized the garment district for much of the 20th century.

Benjamin Brown: Architect will feature original drawings, blueprints, watercolour presentation boards, historical photographs, and maps that capture the breadth of Brown’s architectural accomplishments in the commercial, industrial, corporate, cultural, and residential landscape. They will provide insight into Brown’s process of designing handsome yet utilitarian and enduring structures. These buildings will be explored within the context of Toronto’s architectural heritage and the growth of the Jewish community that commissioned many of Brown’s buildings in the 1920s and 30s.

A short documentary film, on view in the gallery, presents contemporary perspectives on Brown’s buildings and how they stand as testaments to the past while re-purposed for today. Also, local artist/urban geographer Daniel Rotsztain is creating an illustrated map of Toronto, richly animating the project and demonstrating how Brown’s buildings span the Toronto landscape.

The OJA is fortunate to be the chosen repository for the extensive collection of Brown’s architectural drawings. “The OJA is thrilled to showcase the life of this relatively unknown, yet brilliant, architect while providing a lens into the Jewish community during this time,” says Dara Solomon, Director of the OJA. Throughout the exhibition, the OJA will offer tours and school and public programs. Additionally, Heritage Toronto will unveil a historical plaque in front of Benjamin Brown’s Hermant Building at 21 Dundas Square.

For more information, visit



“Touring the Garment District designs of architect Benjamin Brown”, Dave Leblanc, The Globe and Mail, February 18, 2016

“Exhibit celebrates Jewish Architect’s imprint on nearly 100 Toronto buildings”, Sarah-Joyce Battersby, The Toronto Star,February 24, 2016

“Toronto’s Art Deco legacy celebrated”, Daniel Rotsztain, Spacing, March 7, 2016

Curated by:

The Ontario Jewish Archives Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre (OJA)


401 Richmond Street West
Ground Floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Monday to Saturday
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM


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