Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts

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Key Features

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is an 90,000-square-foot world-class facility built to create exceptional experiences for our students and audiences alike.


The original pine, hemlock and spruce floors found in the old brewery building that forms the heart of the Isabel were removed during the initial construction. Placed in storage during construction, this old-growth, heritage wood was later re-milled and used as a finish in the lobby of the new building.


To take advantage of the lakeside vistas, the glass used in the lobby windows of the Isabel is low in iron, which provides for much clearer views. Lobby lighting is directed upwards and is reflected down off the steel and stretched vinyl ceiling, which creates a softer light and prevents glare off the windows from obscuring the view.


The first time he saw the site, n45 architect Robert Matthews remembers the dazzling effect of whitecaps shimmering on the water. He chose the textured steel used to clad the upper reaches of the Isabel to mimic the effect of the sun reflecting on waves



Jennifer Velva Bernstein Performance Hall 

Jennifer Velva Bernstein, Artsci’89, was a kind, caring young woman who loved the arts. Although her degree was in film studies, music was her passion. Jennifer’s life was tragically cut short in a vehicular accident while she was working on a humanitarian mission in Haiti in 1995.

Jennifer’s mother, Marjorie Ernestine Bernstein, wanted her daughter’s love of music to ring forward with a world-class performance hall named in her memory. We thank Mrs. Bernstein for this astounding gesture of love and generosity.Thank you Mrs. Bernstein for this generous $3.5M endowment gift that will be supporting artists in perpetuity. It is a beautiful gift to honour the beautiful spirit of Jennifer. Thank you also to Patty McHenry at Advancement of Queen's for her caring stewardship.

For more information:


  • 566-seat capacity
  • A building within a building: features two-foot thick concrete walls that entirely muffle outside sound state-of-the-art ventilation: fresh air is pumped into the hall via outsized ducts to reduce rumblings, it passes through thick walls in a canvas conduit to deaden vibration and then silently and gently enters the hall through grills in the floor beneath each seat
  • Fine-tuned walls: the curved walls cut echo and give the hall its lively acoustic effects. The smaller pieces of wood that jut out in slight angles are the equivalent of fine tuning
  • New York-based Arup designed the acoustics using their Virtual SoundLab technology, which allows the environment of a space to be listened to before it is even built. Retractable motorized acoustic drapes allow the performance hall sound to be customized even further.

Power Corporation of Canada Studio Theatre 

  • A 100-seat black box studio theatre
  • Completely flexible space designed to provide the theatrical equivalent of a blank slate
  • Nothing, except the stage manager’s booth at one end, is permanent
  • The aluminum tubing that crisscrosses the ceiling is used for mounting stage lights that can be angled in any direction
  • Three sets of brackets run horizontally around the room at different heights. Panels can be slotted into these to create raised areas for audience seating or multi-level stages
  • Stages can be created using modular units that allow for almost any configuration

The Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room

  • 92-seat capacity
  • The steeply raked seats ensure every member of the audience an unimpeded view of the screen
  • Multiple speakers guarantee every audience member the same acoustic experience
  • The projection booth features a state-of-the-art digital projector, actually a sophisticated computer that must be kept in a dust-free environment and at a carefully monitored temperature

Principal Emerita Karen Hitchcock Rehearsal Hall

  • Designed by Arup to exactly mimic the acoustics of the performance hall
  • Allows musicians to practice in the rehearsal hall and move into the performance hall seamlessly, avoiding surprises

  • [Performance Hall]
    The 566-seat performance hall has two-foot-thick walls to effectively muffle sound.
  • [Rehearsal Hall]
    The Principal Emerita Karen Hitchcock Rehearsal Hall mimics the acoustics of the performance hall.
  • [Rehearsal Hall]
    A view of Lake Ontario from the Principal Emerita Karen Hitchcock Rehearsal Hall.
  • [Film screening room]
    Film screening room offers unobstructed views.
  • [Film screening room seats]
    The film screening room can hold 92 audience members and has accessible features.
  • [Photo: Doublespace photography]
    A view of The Isabel from lake Ontario. [Photo: Doublespace photography]
  • [Photo: Doublespace photography]
    The north entrance of The Isabel. [Photo: Doublespace photography]

The Art and Media Lab

The Art and Media Lab situated at the Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts is a space for artists, speakers, performers, musicians, cinematographers and actors, though not limited to other forms of practice and community engagement. It is a space for experimentation, creation, process and exploration. The Art and Media Lab can take on many forms. Artistically, it can follow the rules of a gallery or performance space. Though experimentally, it becomes a lab for producers who are uncertain of where their work may lead. The mandate of the A&M Lab is to create an accessible space for the Queen's and broader community members, students, both professional and emerging artists. The Art and Media Lab is more than a gallery, a white-walled room, a music box or a screening room - it is a space that inspires creative thinking and innovative learning.