The new beating heart of campus

Athletics Recreation Centre main gym

If ever there were any doubts about the need or demand for an updated campus-life facility, they were swept away the moment the doors of the 45,000-square-metre Queen’s Centre swung open. It was six am on the morning of December 1, and more than 100 students already were lined up in the cold and the dark to get in. By the end of that first day of operations, 10,000 people had passed through the main doors. And the crowds haven’t stopped coming.

Principal Daniel Woolf put it well in his remarks at the January 15 official opening ceremonies, when he observed, “The Queen’s Centre has transformed the campus and campus life. This complex integrates academics, sports, and recreation, and student- and community-life. The hallmark of Queen’s has always been excellence in education combined with the broader learning experience out of the classroom. Finally, we have the sport and student-life facilities that do justice to the whole Queen’s experience.”

I saw the Queen’s Centre on December 5, before the building even opened, and I purchased a membership that same day. It’s a fantastic facility. It’s the new beating heart of the university.

Don Bayne, Arts’66, Law’69, EMBA’01, Ottawa, ON (Board of Trustees, Football Hall of Fame Member)

Construction of the $169-million facility – the biggest, boldest, and most ambitious capital project in the University’s history, – began with a March 2007 groundbreaking ceremony. Work continued apace for the next 33 months, with as many as 400 workers on site at times. The streets around the building site sometimes looked and sounded like a war zone – blasting for the building’s foundations, which extend three storeys into the Kingston limestone, continued throughout the summer of 2007. In the end, it was all worth it.

The now-completed complex is now the pride of Queen’s. It includes a 38-metre swimming pool; a main gym with seating for 2,500 spectators; team rooms; squash and racquetball courts; ­fitness, cardio, and weight-training rooms; a food court; a doubled-in-size Common Ground coffee shop; club and meeting rooms; a new School of Kinesiology and Health Studies; and more facilities too numerous to mention.

What an amazing facility, not just for Queen’s, but for the entire Kingston community. During our Kingston Alumni tour I was in awe. I can’t wait for the Branch to host an event at the Queen’s Centre!”

Sue Bates, Artsci’91, QUAA Kingson Branch President

“When we first began to dream about the Queen’s Centre, I asked George Hood [Artsci’78, MPA’81, the former Vice-Principal (Advancement)] to research the leading facilities in North America,” recalls former Principal Bill Leggett, LLD’04. “When he told me what he’d found and offered his suggestions on what we should build here, I was excited.”

What Leggett especially liked was the boldness of Hood’s vision, which meshed with that of the institution. “Queen’s has always sought to inspire its students to believe in themselves and in Canada, to aim high and not be afraid to shoot for the stars,” says Leggett. “We’ve done that with the Queen’s Centre, and I think we’ve succeeded. It really is a spectacular facility and it will serve Queen’s and its commitment to the broader learning environment for many years to come.”

Inspired by Tradition, Built for the Future

In March of 2007, I spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony about the vision of the Queen’s Centre. It is the embodiment of what Queen’s wants for all its students – a holistic learning experience that develops mind, body, and spirit.… As a Queen’s alumnus, I’m so proud of these facilities, which will ensure the fullest Queen’s experience for today’s students, and the Queen’s community, for many years to come.

“This is truly an amazing building. It is both inspired by tradition, and built for the future. The stone exteriors of the Jock Harty Arena as well as the Frost wing of Gordon Hall were recovered and used on the façade of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

“The Queen’s Centre is built to LEED-standard certification, representing Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design and reflecting the University’s long-term commitment to responsible stewardship. The Centre uses 29 per cent less energy and more than 30 per cent less water than a standard building of similar size and nature.

Dr. Andrew Pipe, Arts’70, Meds’74, LLD’01 Trustee, Chair of the Queen's Centre Executive Committee, Opening Ceremonies, January 15, 2010

“A Truly Collaborative Venture ....”

The Alma Mater Society (AMS) took a leadership role in contributing funds for the Queen’s Centre. Its $25.5-million commitment over 15 years is the largest by a student group in Canadian history. This financial support by the AMS and the students of Queen’s, is an amazing commitment and a staggering gesture of generosity. On the other hand, it is indicative of the true Queen’s spirit, and the sense of tradition that is integral to this university. Just as they have benefited from the contributions of others, Queen’s students know that they will play an important role in the lives of the students that come after them. In total, so far, there have been hundreds of contributors to the Queen’s Centre, making this a truly collaborative endeavour.

Principal Daniel Woolf speaking at the official opening of the Queen's Centre, January 15, 2010

The Queen's Centre at a Glance

  • WHAT IS IT? The new home of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, a world-class athletics and recreation facility, and a ­campus student-life centre.
  • WHERE IS IT LOCATED? On a two block area bounded by University Avenue on the west, Division Street on the east, Union Street on the south, and Earl Street on the north.
  • WHEN WAS IT BUILT? Construction began in March 2007 and was completed in December 2009
  • WHO’S BUILT IT? The architects were Bregman + Hamann, Sasaki Associates, Inc., Shoalts and Zaback, with the lead builder being PCL Constructors Canada, Inc.
  • HOW MUCH DID THE PROJECT COST? At $169 million, the Queen’s Centre is the largest capital project ever undertaken by Queen’s or any Canadian university.

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