Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Building Renewal
5 Artists' Common, St. Catharines, Ontario
2016 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award (Adaptive Reuse/Rehabilitation)
As a key element of a broader downtown revitalization plan, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Building project was a close collaboration between Brock University and the City of St. Catharines. As the first satellite campus in St. Catharines for Brock University, the cultural mandate of the building will make a positive contribution to the character and vitality of the downtown area.
By consolidating the University’s arts program off-campus in the downtown core, the project was able to successfully combine academic, community and professional arts facilities into a very dynamic centre. The project not only rehabilitated the 70,000 square foot original building, it also included a dramatic new 25,000 square foot addition for a theater and gallery. This new building clearly affirms its own identity while achieving a respectful balance between old and new.
Built in 1888 as the Canadian Hair Cloth Factory, this building near the Welland Canal served as a textile factory for over one-hundred and twenty five years. Within its handsome five-story timber frame structure, successive companies manufactured fabrics for coat liners, parachute silks, and suits.
It is very fitting that the building is now named after Marilyn Isabelle Walker, a prominent Canadian fibre artist, author, teacher and philanthropist. She contributed significantly to the arts and fine arts in Canada, having dedicated significant time and resources to the revitalization of the arts in the Niagara area. In 2009, she donated fifteen million dollars to Brock University for the development of a fine and performing arts building.
The project’s ambitious scope required many creative solutions to accommodate arts education functions such as classrooms and rehearsal spaces. Many elements of the historic building’s interior were retained, such as the wooden floor beams, metal columns and stone and masonry walls.
Owner: Brock University
Architects: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Project Team: Read Jones Christoffersen Consulting Engineers Ltd., GOAL Engineering Ltd., Thurber Engineering Ltd., Knappett Projects Inc., and Vintage Woodworks Inc.
The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts project was executed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and nominated by Elizabeth Gyde, Diamond Schmitt Architects.