Honours for Diamond and Schmitt

Ontario Wood Works! reccently presented the Jury’s Prize to Diamond and Schmitt Architects for outstanding use of wood in design at an awards gala in Toronto. The winning project is the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in the Town of Richmond Hill, Ont.

The award is given at the discretion of the jury in years “where an outstanding and memorable nomination is received,” says Tim Buhler, of Wood Works!, a project of the Canadian Wood Council.

The 42,000-square-foot arts facility, with a 630-seat main theatre, employs wood in two prominent locations: as an acoustic element on the interior of the auditorium, and as a visual element on the walls of the public lobbies. The auditorium is a traditional horseshoe configuration, providing an intimate space with excellent acoustics and sightlines. A complex form of curved wood-veneer panels serves as acoustic reflectors for the balcony fronts, proscenium and ceiling.

“This acoustic function sets the architectural tone for the warm and enveloping character of the theatre,” says Gary McCluskie, project architect and principal with Diamond and Schmitt.

In the public lobby spaces, the walls are lined from floor to ceiling with flat wood-veneer panels. Their durability is designed to act as a mounting surface for rotating art exhibitions. Says McCluskie, “The natural colour of the wood panels also produces a glowing effect when viewed from the exterior of the theatre that attracts the attention of arriving patrons and creates a welcoming atmosphere.”

The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts opened in 2009 on historic Yonge Street and is a multipurpose venue for musical performance. The theatre is easily adaptable to other uses and houses a hydraulic orchestra pit and York Region’s only fly tower.

This is the 10th anniversary for Wood Works! Past recognition for Diamond and Schmitt includes 2008 Wood Champion Award, the Interior Design Award in 2007 for the Four Season’s Centre for the Performing Arts, Sir Sanford Fleming College, Haliburton Campus School of the Arts in 2005 and for a residence in Caledon in 2004.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is one of Canada’s leading full-service architectural practices. The firm is recognized for its experience in the design of award-winning performing arts centres, academic research buildings and health care institutions. Current projects include The New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia; L’Adresse Symphonique, the new home of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; and the School of Image Arts at Toronto’s Ryerson University.