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Photos by Ming Wu.

Cementing Its Focus: A New Chapter for SPAO

By Rose Ekins on November 14, 2017

The School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa held a grand opening party for its new location in Little Italy on Friday, November 10. After 12 years in cramped conditions on Dalhousie in the Byward Market, the new custom-designed building opened its doors to the public with a gathering and musical performance by The Peptides.

The new SPAO Centre is located at 77 Pamilla Street, just off Preston and the hub of the neighbourhood. Upon entering, the school’s new gallery space greets visitors, followed by a large open room for gatherings and further art display. The space is available for event rentals, with just behind it a separate student entrance, darkrooms, equipment and a staircase to the second floor of classrooms and offices.

The clean lines, bigger and impressive design marks a shift in SPAO’s history to what promises to be a bigger, brighter future.

After speaking to Jonathan Hobin, Creative Director, and Michael Tardioli, Co-Founder and Director of Education, as well as several students, it is apparent that the energy of the building is mirrored by its inhabitants. The new centre will accommodate its national and international artist-in-residence program, various educational programs (private mentoring, fulltime and part-time studies are available), and exhibitions and events held by the school. The event was extremely well attended, packed with people from wall to wall from the beginning well through the night – suffice it to say, the public share the excitement for this new chapter of the school established in 2005.

The building still has a ways to go: at the time of the opening they are waiting for a second floor construction permit so they can fully realize the vision of their new school conceived by Hobin Architecture. Regardless, the new building in its current state is bright, warm and inviting. The clean lines, bigger and impressive design marks a shift in SPAO’s history to what promises to be a bigger, brighter future.


For photos from the opening, visit our gallery here. To hear more from Creative Director Jonathan Hobin, read our interview here. SPAO is located at 77 Pamilla Street. Visit their website for more information.