Queen's buildings recognized with a pair of awards

Queen's buildings recognized with a pair of awards

December 12, 2014


[Buildings Awards]
Queen’s University has recently won awards for two of its buildings – the School of Medicine Building, left, and the newly-opened Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photos by University Communications/Suzy Lamont)

Queen’s University has one of the most beautiful campuses around, but it’s not only because of the classic limestone buildings.

Queen’s recently received awards for two of its new buildings – the School of Medicine Building picked up an Award of Merit in the City of Kingston’s Livable City Design Awards while the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts was recognized by the Frontenac Heritage Foundation at the 2014 Heritage Conservation Awards.

The Livable City Design Award highlighted the way the School of Medicine Building creates an “effective transition between the Sydenham Heritage Conservation District and the university campus.” The jury also pointed to the preservation of two heritage buildings on Barrie Street that were incorporated into the new structure.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in Toronto and in concert with local architects Shoalts and Zaback Architects, it was built by local construction firm M. Sullivan and Son Limited and opened in fall 2011.

The beauty of the building is in the details, points out Yvonne Holland, Director of Campus Planning for Queen’s.

“The architects designed an accessibility elevator that they installed in between the old and the new,” she says. “You can’t even see it from the street but it’s wonderfully designed. A lot of the historic features were restored and reconstructed to match the original appearance. It really is a fabulous state-of-the-art, 21st century facility that also respects the fact that it is in a deeply-historic area of our city.”

Ms. Holland says that while the design of the building respects the historic nature of the area it also provides a high-tech and contemporary facility for students, faculty and researchers. She also points out that the use of natural lighting creates an open feel and at night, with plenty of activity going on, the building lights up the whole corner, particularly in winter. The end product is something to be proud of, she says.

“I think from a project management perspective, nothing short of a Herculean effort was exercised here to make this happen,” she says. “This is not a conventional facility. This is a medical facility with labs and new teaching spaces, respecting the pedagogy that has changed of late.”

To the southwest, along Front Street, is the university’s newest addition – the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

A visual splendour designed by internationally-renowned architecture firm Snohetta, the Isabel also combines cutting-edge design with the preservation of heritage. 

The award citation points to the conserving of limestone walls and multi-pane windows at the former Morton’s Brewery site.

“(Heritage) is a key element for us and for the city in which we are situated,” Ms. Holland says. “We have 88 historic facilities here, which is more per capita than anywhere else, so we absolutely respect that as part of the fabric of our city.”

Ms. Holland explains that the recently-completed Campus Master Plan took close to two years to complete and that these two buildings, and the awards they have now garnered, are a validation of the process.

“Hundreds of people were involved including the city and other key community stakeholders, so it wasn’t just an inward-looking process , it was very much an outward-looking process she says. “Both of these facilities support the plan. I just think they’re magnificent.”