The city of Burlington, Ontario celebrated the opening of its new performing arts theatre recently. The $40-million Centre is poised to be a catalyst for a renaissance of the arts in the region and bring renewed vitality to downtown.
Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Centre houses a 720-seat Main Theatre and a 260-seat Studio Theatre. Both venues open onto a large glazed City Room public lobby intended for community receptions when the theatres are not in use. A public plaza further integrates the facility with the street while the careful combination of materials, colour, texture, lighting and architectural form brings unique architectural expression to downtown Burlington.
“The entire building – inside and out – is activated as performance space to add a dynamic presence to the downtown neighbourhood,” says lead architect Gary McCluskie, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The wood-lined Main Theatre is designed for exemplary sightlines and excellent acoustics and provides the technical infrastructure for the most demanding performances. “Wood creates a warm and tactile setting and enhances the acoustic clarity of the room,” says project architect Jon Soules, adding the fine white oak millwork is evident throughout the Centre to impart a sense of quality and permanence. Other features of the Main Theatre include a six-storey fly tower, terrazzo flooring and a dramatically cantilevered balcony that seems to float in the room over the orchestra seating.
The 62,000-square-foot Burlington Performing Arts Centre is among the very first theatres in Canada designed with an aggressive sustainable directive to reduce energy consumption and lower its environmental impact. LEED strategies include sustainable site development, remediated contaminated soils, storm water management, reduced heat-island effect and reduced light pollution. Energy efficient design was achieved with thermal and lighting controls and monitoring, use of natural daylight, lighting fixture selection and exterior envelope design. A third party energy model indicates that the new facility will achieve a 77 percent reduction from the provincial energy use average and will meet the 2030 Challenge for environmental stewardship.
At the recent inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised the facility. “Our Government is proud to be contributing to this world-class cultural venue that will create local jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Burlington Performing Arts Centre will also contribute to a stronger community by fostering artistic creativity and cultural participation.”
Diamond and Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is a leading Canadian architectural practice recognized for excellence in the design of award-winning performing arts centres, academic and research buildings, commercial, residential and health care institutions. Current projects include the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sick Children’s Hospital Research Tower in Toronto and the St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts.