Queen's University

Queen's hires World Trade Centre memorial museum architects for Tett Centre


Queen’s University has commissioned the same firm that is currently designing the World Trade Centre Memorial Museum Pavilion to build a performing arts centre on the Tett Centre property. 

The firms, Snohetta and EMA Architects, have an impressive track record of high profile and imaginative projects, is also highly regarded for their experience with projects that involve heritage buildings and extensive public consultations.

“We are very excited to have architects of this calibre and talent working on such an important project for Kingston,” says Tom Williams, chair of the Tett Centre building committee. “Our selection committee felt that their vision for the property, their successful track record of working with multiple stakeholders and their experience of designing projects for waterfront properties made them an ideal match for our needs.”

Kingston City Council approved the sale to Queen’s of the waterfront land, with the exception of the J.K. Tett Building. The purchase, which was made possible by a large pledge from Queen’s benefactor Alfred Bader, is significant in that it gives the university a place to develop a much needed performing arts centre, including a new concert hall and theatre.

“Our desire and resolve to make something extraordinary happen on this site are being rewarded,” says Principal Karen Hitchcock. “This project will significantly enrich the teaching and learning environment of our university and, with the creation of a new venue to celebrate and enjoy culture and the arts, add to the quality of life in our community.”

The design of the buildings is now underway. Preparation of the site will begin soon and will include a heritage assessment and stabilizing of the Stella Buck. It’s expected that construction will begin late this summer or early fall of 2008. The target date for completion is the summer of 2010.

The Queen's proposal calls for a new performing arts complex that would contain such elements as a 400 to 500-seat concert hall, a 200-seat theatre, and other academic and performance space.  In addition to being of enormous value to the departments of Music, Drama, and Film Studies, the site renewal will provide the opportunity to collaborate with the city. Public access to the waterfront will be maintained and arts and cultural groups currently using the Tett Centre will continue to do so.

“We have invested in a lot of careful planning to ensure that we are proceeding in a manner that will achieve something very special for Queen’s and Kingston. Our goal from the beginning has been to work in close consultation and cooperation with the Kingston arts community to ensure they will feel a great of satisfaction and pride in the final result,” says Andrew Simpson, Vice Principal, Operations and Finance.

Snohetta, originating in Norway and with branch offices in  New York has extensive experience with complex projects. The firm is well known for the Alexandria Library in Egypt, a 10-year project completed in 2002 and receiving worldwide acclaim. Other projects include an opera house in Oslo, a museum in England, and the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin. Construction on The World Trade Centre memorial museum, began this spring.

The Ottawa-based EMA, which was the designer for the 1,000-seat Centerpointe theatre, a 200-seat theatre for the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the 200-seat North Grenville theatre, have been heavily involved in renovations of historical properties.

The partnership between the two firms is based on their commitment to heritage and experience working in a range of climates and topographies and their special interest in culture and the environment.

The building committee for the Tett Centre project also includes John Burge, director of the School of Music; professor emeritus Boris Castell, editor of the Queen’s Quarterly and director of the Performing Arts Office; James Carson, associate dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Clarke Mackey, head of the Department of Film Studies; Sebastian Schutze, acting head of the Dept. of Art, Tim Fort, head of the Dept. of Drama and Hakim Kassam, Vice President of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS).

For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact Lorinda Peterson at lorinda.peterson@queensu.ca, 613-533-3234 or Molly Kehoe at molly.kehoe@queensu.ca, 613-533-2877, Queen's News and Media Services

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Last updated at 4:28 pm EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
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