Join us on Friday, January 27 for an evening of film, photography, drama, dance, and discussion at the Social Justice Research Institute’s third annual Arts, Archives and Affinities event, held at the Marilyn I. Walker School of fine and Performing Arts. Dr. David Fancy of the Department of Dramatic Arts will be speaking about “Growing Together,” his collaborative theatre production with migrant labourers.
Articles tagged with: Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
An American design journal is the latest admirer to bestow an architecture award on Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.
Designed by world-renowned Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Walker School’s striking blend of new construction and restored 19th-century industrial buildings has been turning heads and spurring acclaim — from juries and from area residents — since the $45-million complex opened just over a year ago.
Last month the Walker School project won a national Cornerstone Award from the National Trust for Canada, which recognizes extraordinary restoration projects. Earlier in the year it received the Niagara Community Design Award in the adaptive re-use category.
Now the Walker School has received a silver medal in the 2016 Reconstruction Awards from Building Design and Construction Magazine. For more than three decades, the Chicago-based magazine has given annual awards to honour leading North American projects in terms of renovation, adaptive re-use and preservation work.
The challenging Walker School project included the restoration of an old textile mill into a beautifully repurposed complex of teaching and learning spaces for disciplines from fine art to photography, music and dramatic arts.
“The five-story brick-and-beam structure is an adaptive reuse of the Canada Hair Cloth Building, where coat linings and parachute silks were once made,” states the magazine’s announcement. “Diamond Schmitt Architects led the repurposing of the original 1888 structure and the design of a 35,000-sf addition that supports a new 280-seat studio theatre.
“The project consolidates the university’s fine and performing arts facilities in a single downtown location for 500 students. All work had to meet the university’s strict Facility Accessibility Design Standards. A former raceway water channel for the looms was preserved as a pedestrian path. The contractor (the aptly named Bird Construction) even made sure not to disturb the chimney swifts that were nesting in the old factory.”
The Walker School shares the silver designation with other marquee projects including Lovejoy Wharf in Boston, the Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco and the structural refitting of New York’s famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts was honoured with one of five National Trust for Canada national Cornerstone Awards for building restoration! Read more about it at Niagara This Week.
The National Trust noted the Marilyn I. Walker centre’s transformation of the old hair cloth factory dating back to 1888 — along with a 35,000 square-foot addition — is a “key element” of the broader downtown revitalization plan and was done while retaining many elements of the historic building’s interior such as wooden floor beams, metal columns and stone and masonry walls.
Scott Roper, project manager for Brock, said in the university’s Brock Press publication that Brock had “utter success” in creating a stand-out academic entity while being a trigger for the social, economic and urban revitalization of downtown St. Catharines.
“While Brock has constructed several substantial buildings over the past two decades, the creation of the Marilyn Walker School represented a bold step into the downtown, integration with the surrounding community, and into the unfamiliar area of adaptive re-use,” Roper said.
(Source: The Brock News, Monday, October 24, 2016. Photo caption: The former Canada Hair Cloth Building in downtown St. Catharines has been transformed into the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts – a building blending old with new.)
Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts has received the National Trust for Canada’s 2016 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award for Building Heritage.
The independent awards jury was unanimous in its decision to honour the project.
“While Brock has constructed several substantial buildings over the past two decades, the creation of the Marilyn Walker School represented a bold step into the downtown, integration with the surrounding community, and into the unfamiliar area of adaptive re-use,” said Project Manager Scott Roper. “Brock met utter success in creating a stand-out academic entity as well as being the trigger for the social, economic and urban revitalization of downtown St. Catharines.”
He said the National Trust’s recognition confirms that Brock’s initiative improves quality of life and contributes to our collective national identity.
Established in 2013 with the sponsorship of Ecclesiastical Insurance, the award honours exemplary commercial, institutional or mixed use projects to recognize the people who have contributed to the successful regeneration of heritage buildings and sites.
The MIWSFPA was completed in 2015, a $45.5-million redevelopment of the former Canada Hair Cloth Building, an iconic structure in downtown St. Catharines which has been transformed and expanded to include a 35,000-square-foot addition.
The facility is the result of nearly a decade of hard work and commitment from hundreds of people.
The awards ceremony took take place Friday, Oct. 21 in Hamilton.
The bond between Brock University and the Rotary Club of St. Catharines became a bit tighter today when Brock formally dedicated the Rotary Reflecting Pool at its Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.
Under a drizzly fall sky, representatives from Rotary, the University and the City joined students and local residents for the first look at the new artistic water feature as it was unveiled during a midday ceremony.
The University dedicated the pool to recognize St. Catharines Rotary’s support in helping Brock locate its arts school into a restored industrial heritage site. In doing so, the Walker School became a key factor in the city centre’s economic and cultural revival, alongside other major downtown projects the Meridian Centre and FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, which also received support from the Rotary Club of St. Catharines.
In 2011, as Brock was seeking government and community help to relocate the MIWSFPA from its main campus into the city’s core, the Rotary Club of St. Catharines announced it would donate $100,000 to the cause, the club’s largest single gift in its nearly-100-year history.
Over the next four years the school took shape in an award-winning project that integrated new construction with a carefully refurbished textile mill dating to the 19th century. The project — made possible by a $26-million investment from the Province of Ontario, and provision of the former industrial site from the City of St. Catharines — was opened in the fall of 2015.
Set amidst modernist sculptures in a greenspace beside the Walker School, the Rotary Reflecting Pool’s gently flowing current echoes the tranquility of a semi-private space that can be used by students and by members of the public.
Brock’s Interim President Tom Traves said the University is very pleased to partner with an organization like Rotary on an investment that will benefit not just students but citizens all across Niagara.
“Just as the Welland Canal contributed to the life of the City many years ago, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Performing Arts Centre are contributing to its revitalization,” said Traves. “As we stand in this space, we further transform this area and we thank Rotary for its support of Brock.”
Rotary Club of St. Catharines President George Darte said the club agreed to contribute such a large sum because the Brock project represented a historic opportunity that the community could not afford to miss out on.
“Our members are dedicated to the vitality and the prosperity of the community,” said Darte. “Through our support to the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, we are delighted to be nurturing the next generation of artists and performers here in St. Catharines, while at the same time contributing to the revitalization of our downtown core.”
Liz Palmieri, the Rotary Club of St. Catharines past president, who was chair of the club’s Major Grants Committee at the time of the gift, said club members knew what they had to do.
“We felt strongly about our commitment to the arts in our community,” said Palmieri, “and we are proud to be major supporters of an institution that embodies the vision of Marilyn I Walker, one of our community’s finest citizens, artists and philanthropists. It is a fitting tribute to her memory.”
Like the Walker School project itself, the pool’s actual creation is the result of many parties working together.
It was designed in a collaboration between Scott Roper, of Brock Campus Planning, Design and Construction; David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA; Arie Shipper of Merit Contractors; and Wally Healey and Brian McLeod of Stevensville Lawn Service, with artist Elizabeth Chitty who consulted on details of local history and geography.
The project’s strong focal point occurs where the water flows through a metal grate fashioned by Fenwick blacksmith Ken Robertson. The grate consists of a series of panels set at different angles, representing the hillsides of the Walker School’s valley setting, as well as iron cutouts to portray Twelve Mile Creek, the Niagara River, the Welland Canal and the Raceway which used to course through the property on which the Walker School now stands.
The following message is on a plaque beside the new water feature:
The Rotary Reflecting Pool is dedicated to the Rotary Club of St. Catharines and to the historical significance of the original Welland Canal which was located nearby. Rotary’s support for this place of tranquility and creative reflection for students and the community is an investment in arts and culture that celebrates the revitalization of the St. Catharines downtown core.
There are over 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide whose motto is “Service Above Self.” Rotarians are dedicated to important global causes including the quest to eradicate polio, education, clean drinking water, assistance for mothers and children, and numerous other initiatives.
The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts occupies the historic 1880’s Canada Haircloth Building and 1940’s storage shed near what was once the third lock of the first Welland Canal. Water was diverted from the canal along the north side of the building to provide electrical power to the mill. The Welland Canal transformed the local economy and navigation of the entire region.
Arie Shipper, Brian Hutchings, Brian McLeod, Carol Merriam, david vivian, Elizabeth Chitty, George Darte, Ken Robertson, Liz Palmieri, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, reflecting pool, Rotary Club, Rotary Reflecting Pool, Scott Roper, The Brock News, Tom Traves, Wally Healey, Walter Sendzik, water feature
Categories: In the Media, News
Brock University will be joining local artists and culture workers in a country-wide celebration of arts and culture this weekend.
More than 900 communities across Canada are participating in Culture Days, a three-day celebration of arts and culture Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.
Rodman Hall Art Centre is offering free family-friendly art activities all weekend. There will be a drop-in puppet workshop in collaboration with Carousel Players, tours of the historic house and a look at the new exhibition “Houses and Whispers,” by Gunilla Josephson. Rodman Hall will be open Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
The Marilyn I. Walker School for Fine and Performing Arts is also participating in Culture Days. Guests are welcome to tour the facility, view poster presentations of research from the Faculty of Humanities, and take in the exhibition of contemporary art in the MIWSFPA Art Gallery. MIWSFPA is open Sept. 30- Oct. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The art gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m.
Percussionist Devon Fornelli will perform citySounds in the walkway between the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and MIWSFPA on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. In case of rain, the performance will take place in the main lobby of MIWSFPA.
Other venues participating in this year’s Culture Days include the St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre, 4Cats Arts Studio, Silver Spire United Church, Odd Fellows Hall, Mahtay Café, and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.
Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a Canada-wide event held the last Friday of September. Hundreds of artists, cultural workers, and arts-related groups mobilize to offer free, hands-on activities that encourage art appreciation.
Visit http://www.stcatharines.ca/en/experiencein/Culture-Days.asp to view the full list of local participants and to plan your culture days experience.
4Cats Arts Studio, art appreciation, arts and culture, carousel players, citySounds, culture, Culture Days, Devon Fornelli, mahtay cafe, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Odd Fellows Hall, rodman hall, Silver Spire United Church, St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre
Categories: Announcements, In the Media, News
The new director of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts enjoys a “pinch me” moment every now and then.
When David Vivian arrived in Niagara in 2004, culture was struggling and downtown St. Catharines felt stagnant. Now, both are generating national attention. “It’s a fantastic progression since 2004,” he says. “I can’t believe that we have both a new (Marilyn I. Walker) school facility and new performing arts centre downtown here.
“That’s a huge jump in capacity for this city, to both hear the stories of others and to tell its own stories.”
Vivian, currently chairman of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, begins a three-year term at the school July 1. The school opened in its new downtown location last September in a former 19th century textile factory at 15 Artists’ Common. With about 500 students, the $45 million building houses Brock’s visual arts, music, drama and culture programs.
Vivian replaces Derek Knight, who helped oversee the new school’s construction and implementation through its first year of classes. Knight will be taking a oneyear sabbatical from Brock. With the building’s first year winding down, Vivian says there’s a “great foundation” to build on in Year Two.
“We’ve got some excellent, first rate programs,” he says. “First on my list is to communicate these opportunities to future students here in the Niagara region, the GTA and internationally.”
He will also strengthen the already crucial link with the nearby FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and increase the school’s role in the evolving downtown.
“It’s about finding the right place for the school in the heart of the city,” he says. “We understand ourselves to be part of a larger project of the downtown revitalization. We’re all terribly proud of St. Catharines.”
Vivian was recognized with the Humanities Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009, and recognized by the city, province and country for his work as chairman of the St. Catharines Culture Committee in 2011. He studied art and art history at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and has an MA in fine arts from the University of British Columbia.
Vivian is eager to import new students to help become the “cultural fabric” of the region.
But he also wants to keep the school part of the Brock community, despite the space between them now.
“We have a lot of relationship building to do with the rest of the university,” he says. “Bringing us from the main campus has broken an immediacy and a knowledge of each other.”
See this introduction to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University in St. Catharines ON, with scenes from the events of the official opening of the new facility on September 18, 2015.
The nationally ranked Brock Badgers men’s and women’s basketball teams will make history Saturday, Nov. 28 when they play the first-ever Brock basketball games at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.
On this occasion, the adjacent Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will be opening its doors to visitors between 4 – 7 pm. Plan to visit the school for a quick tour before or after you catch the games beginning at 5:00 and 7:00 pm.
Tickets for the doubleheader will go on sale Nov. 12 through Ticketmaster, though a pre-sale is now available using the promotional code Badgers. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youths, students and seniors with premium courtside VIP seats also available. In addition, there are 1,000 tickets set aside for Brock University students, who get free admission to home games with their student fees.
ST. CATHARINES – There was excitement in the air Friday in front of the former Canada Hair Cloth building as hundreds gathered under and around a large tent to celebrate a new purpose for the 19th century textile factory.
The culmination of a work begun more than eight years ago, Brock University and the City of St. Catharines officially opened the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The building, which, skillfully designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, incorporates much of the former factory, including its brick, wooden and steel beams and large windows, while adding state-of-the-art elements.
It houses the dramatic arts, music, and visual arts departments, as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. In all, 50 full-time faculty members, part-time instructors and staff will join about 500 students in the $45.5-million facility.
Brock president Jack Lightstone traced the path leading to last week’s opening, saying it began with a vision by former chancellor Ray Moriyama and former dean of humanities Rosemary Hale, who say the potential for the old industrial site located right in the heart of the downtown.
The school complements the soon opening FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, with students going back and forth between the two adjacent facilities.
Lightstone said the decision to move downtown was made at Brock under the condition the university would not be making a standalone building but rather one that works within a new vision for the downtown as a hub of arts, culture, entertainment and digital media.
“Right from the very beginning it was conceived we would use each other’s buildings in a symbiotic and dynamic way,” he said.
The beginnings of the project were also accompanied by an inevitable skepticism, Lightstone said, noting he was reminded all too often of the many failed plans for revitalizing the downtown.
Those voices were largely silenced, though, he said, by the generous and “transformative” gift by Norris and Marilyn I. Walker of $15 million to establish the school.
“When they made that commitment, everyone knew we had no choice but to make it happen,” he said, calling it a “catalytic moment.”
MPP Jim Bradley, who Lightstone referred to as the minister of Niagara and Brock, said the school has added to a new feeling of optimism for downtown St. Catharines.
“Today it stands as a testament to our manufacturing past and as an example of our economic renewal and creative spirit in our community,” he said.
Mayor Walter Sendzik noted there were many who made the vision for the school a reality, and he singled out the previous council under former Mayor Brian McMullan for ensuring the building, which had to be expropriated, was available for Brock.
However, he said three people, Lightstone, Hale and Walker, were crucial to its success.
“Take one of those involved out of the equation, and I don’t think we’re standing here today,” he said.