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.”
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.
“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
“A Truly Collaborative Venture ....”
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.