Isabel Bader Centre ready to perform

New performing arts centre still under construction, but scheduled to open to the public in September

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts will open for classes and to the public on Sept. 13 after a five year long period of construction, which first began in 2009.

The building will serve as the new home of the film and media department, which was previously housed in two converted buildings on Stuart St., with a portion of classes conducted in Ontario Hall and Etherington Auditorium.

Alfred Bader, ArtSci ’45, donated a total of $22 million to the University to build a new performing arts centre, with an original offer of more than $10 million in 2005. At the time, he told the Journal that “there is no great theatre [at Queen’s], there is no performing arts centre, there is no musical hall and one could marry all these together.”

“The Isabel” — a nickname given to the building by the University — cost $63 million to build. Roughly $30 million was provided by the provincial and federal governments, while $6 million was donated by the City of Kingston. The University raised the remaining $5 million by December 2010.

Ground broke in October 2009 and construction was scheduled to begin in spring 2011, but construction was delayed until spring 2012 in response to concerns regarding the site’s heritage.

The centre incorporates two older buildings on the site: the Stella Buck building and a former stable. Members of the City’s heritage committee objected to 2010 plans to remove the Stella Buck building’s windows and chimney; City Council members also objected to stainless steel siding as a possible distraction to passing motorists.

Ultimately, the design team chose a less shiny siding and decided to retain the Stella Buck building’s windows.

The centre was designed by Ottawa firm N45 and Oslo firm Snøhetta, which designed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum pavilion in New York City.

The firms worked in conjunction with New York firm Arup, which designed the acoustics.

The Tett Centre has also been under construction next door, owned and being renovated by the City of Kingston.

The Tett, expected to be completed in September, will house eight arts organizations, along with artists’ studios and rental spaces.

The centrepiece of the building is the performance hall, which will seat up to 566.

The Isabel also features a studio theatre with a capacity of 100, a film screening room that seats 92 and a music rehearsal hall designed to exactly mimic the acoustics of the performance hall.

In March, students protested the lack of food sources at the Isabel, a lack of parking space, unreliable public transportation to the centre and the absence of a stop sign, crosswalk or traffic light near its main entrance on King St. West and Morton St.

Since the protest, a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk has been added.

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