Diamond and Schmitt at Brock

Thistle Courtyard opened at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. today, transforming a previously unused outdoor lightwell into a food-services marketplace and learning commons. The 12,000-sq.-ft. dining and event space features Niagara Market, a marché with an emphasis on locally sourced food and produce for 3,200 students and staff.

Thistle Courtyard features adaptive reuse of an existing courtyard to provide new student amenity space. “This project is inherently sustainable by design in that the existing facade and structure was reutilized and a new light structure used to enclose the courtyard,” says Donald Schmitt, principal with Diamond and Schmitt Architects. According to Schmitt, a more typical expansion would have required a completely new structure and building envelope, at a much higher capital cost.

Unlike more conventional student-dining facilities, the 5,000-sq.-ft. Niagara Market features food stations in a style comparable to a traditional marketplace. “When a meal is ordered in the market, if it’s available locally, it’s procured locally,” says Tom Arkell, director of community and ancillary services at Brock University. “That includes everything from the coffee to the meat used in sandwiches and meals.”

With a capacity of 670 people, Thistle Courtyard and the market serve to enhance the self-sufficiency of the Brock campus. Accessible to both the Learning Commons and the University’s Theatre of the Arts, the $7-million facility is the latest project by Diamond and Schmitt to revitalize this fast-growing academic institution in the Niagara region of Ontario.

Previously, Diamond and Schmitt designed the 30,000-sq.-ft. Learning Commons and a 20,000-sq.-ft. extension to Welch Hall for the Faculty of Education.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is a full-service architectural practice with over 160 architects currently working on projects worldwide. The firm pursues sustainable design and environmental innovations for performing arts, academic, research and healthcare facilities, recreation and housing.