SparQ Labs replace Gordon Vogt Studio Theatre

Memorial theatre traded for collaborative lab space

The old SparQ lab in the ILC is currently in the midst of moving.
Credit: 
Supplied

By October 15, what was once the Gordon Vogt Studio Theatre will become the site of the new SparQ Labs.

In 2002, the space was dedicated to Gordon Vogt, a Queen’s graduate in the Class of ’70, who died prematurely due to cancer on July 10, 1985. He was 37 years old.

The first-floor Carruthers Hall space — once inhabited by the drama department — will soon be fully operational as the revamped site of SparQ Labs.

The SparQ project is the first on-campus Makerspace in Canada. The space will be a hub for individuals to share resources and ideas, work on projects collaboratively and network with one another.

It will joining over 1000 active “Makerspaces” globally.

Started four years ago by four students together with Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), SparQ supports start-ups born from the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII).

The lab is located in the Integrated Learning Centre (ILC), but SparQ has begun to move into Carruthers throughout the summer.

Francis Campbell, ArtSci ’17, the current director of SparQ Labs, said the new space will include fabrication tools, including 3D printers, wood-working and circuitry tools, and will run a variety of workshops for students.

Campbell added that he’s excited for the new space, which he hopes will be a hands-on environment for students to design, create, and foster ideas for entrepreneurship. 

For Campbell, Carruthers is the “perfect location” — a large, open space that’s central for most students on campus.

“I have big visions of seeing the space constantly filled with students from all faculties experimenting, prototyping and learning as much as they can,” Campbell said.

For those in the drama department, the move is a chance to say goodbye to the Vogt.

The Gordon Vogt Studio Theatre was created as a part of a $500,000 renovation project and capital campaign called “Consider Our Dramatic Appeal”, which spanned from 1995 to 2002.

The original dedication was possible because of a fundraising effort spearheaded by Vogt’s classmate, Barbara Turner-Vessalago.  

“Gordie was the one person who had quite an impact on her life,” Queen’s Drama professor, Greg Wanless said.

Wanless graduated in 1968, two years before Vogt, and the pair were in several theatre shows together. They also lived together for about a month after Wanless’ graduation.

“He was a real music-theatre guy,” Wanless said. “His idol was Bing Crosby, and he tried to croon like Bing from time to time, which was very funny. He was a very skillful performer.”

In a 2002 letter, Drama Department Head Tim Fort wrote that the Vogt should receive the dedication for his “outstanding work, as a critic, writer, and theatre artist”.

His work included freelance journalism for CBC radio, vocal work with the Rainbow Gardens Jazz Orchestra and his role as a theatre critic for the CBC arts program “Stereo Morning”.

During its time as a space for theatre, the Vogt became home to the student-run Vogt Studio Series — now Power Presents: The Drama Studio Series — which focuses on student-written pieces.

As a “black-box” theatre, Wanless said the space was “really liberating” from a teaching and a student production point of view.

With the opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, the space was returned from the drama department to the University.

“We couldn’t afford to keep both spaces,” Wanless said.

“The Bader [is] — although a little further away — a true black box, bigger and more equipped.” 

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