The journey to relocate Brock University’s Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts off campus and into a piece of Niagara’s heritage in downtown St. Catharines began in November 2007. It will end in mid-2015 when 500 students, faculty and staff move into the new facilities, revitalizing the city centre while freeing up needed space for other programs on the University’s main campus.
The Walker School, nestled between St. Catharines’ new Performing Arts Centre and Spectator Facility, is a $45,458,425 project to renovate and expand a 19th century textile mill originally at the edge of the first Welland Canal. The renewed building of 93,700 square feet will be a centre of teaching and learning excellence for Dramatic Arts (DART), Visual Arts (VISA), Music, and Studies in Arts and Culture.
Program features include:
- Learning Commons
- Smart Lecture Hall and Seminar Rooms
- Computer Commons
- Computer Lab
- Music Practice Studios
- Music Cognition Lab
- Digital Music Lab
- Drawing and Painting Studios
- Photography Studios and Darkroom
- Digital Media Lab
- Student Gallery
- Dramatic Arts and Scenography Studios
- Student Theatre
- Costume shop
- Scene shop
- Student Lounge & Study Area
- Faculty Offices
- The Walker School is being supported by $26.2 million in funding from the Government of Ontario and numerous generous partners from across the community.
Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto, designers of learning and arts facilities in cities around the world including the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto and the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, have designed the facility.
Construction began in January 2013 when Brock entered into an agreement with Bird Construction Group. Though much of the work will be renovations inside the old factory, the landmark building’s exterior will be visually refreshed with new windows and restored brickwork and trim components. The theatre and circulation area will be new construction that rises in the middle area.
Brock President Jack Lightstone said the school is being built downtown, rather than on campus greenspace, because it is an opportunity for the University to help revitalize its surrounding community intellectually, economically and culturally.
“This project is a tribute to the concept of community partnership, “he said. “With support from the community, this is a statement about what can happen when many hands work together to build a better future.”