Art centre steels attention

Heritage commitee fears stainless steel siding on Queen’s new performing arts centre will distract drivers

Members of the Municipal Heritage Committee worried that the glare from the proposed stainless steel siding would create a safety haazard for drivers.
Members of the Municipal Heritage Committee worried that the glare from the proposed stainless steel siding would create a safety haazard for drivers.

Plans for a new performing arts centre at Queen’s were debated at last week’s city council meeting.

The city’s heritage committee asked Queen’s to change the proposal for stainless steel siding on the $63 million facility, because the material could reflect sun and impair drivers’ vision.

In 2007, Queen’s bought the Stella Buck building at 390 King St. W. It will house the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, scheduled to open in fall 2013. Scheduled work on the building is currently underway.

Councillor Bill Glover sits on both the heritage and planning committees for the city.

“There was some discussion about the reflective quality of the stainless steel,” Glover said at city council on June 21.

He said some members of the city’s heritage committee worried that the siding would pose a safety hazard to those driving on King Street.

Architect Robert Matthews and Associate Vice-Principal of Facilities Ann Browne told council they had conducted a sun test on the material. The test determined that the height of the building means there wouldn’t be a hazardous glare for drivers or pedestrians below.

At council, it was suggested this issue be placed under the jurisdiction of the planning committee, instead of being debated further. This motion carried unanimously.

Councillor Dorothy Hector sits on the planning committee. She said the heritage committee should have voiced their concerns about the siding to the planning committee.

There’s no procedure currently in place for committees to address each other without coming to council first.

“The challenge is that there isn’t a process,” Hector said. “They should have written a letter to the planning committee.”

Hector said the city has already backed the Queen’s project, so any debate won’t change the projected completion date of the project.

“Council had already, with the planning committee’s report, passed in principle the whole thing and handed it to Queen’s staff,” she said.

Although the city’s planning committee has jurisdiction over this building, Hector said the cladding wouldn’t change.

“All the drawings I’ve seen, I’ve been pleased with. It’s an exciting moment for the city,” Hector said.

Associate Vice-Principal Browne said the building will go ahead as planned.

“We’ll be working completely with staff on planning issues,” she said.

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