A new CAD60m (€42m) performing arts centre has opened in St. Catharines, Canada. The 95,000-square-foot venue houses four performance spaces including a theatre, concert hall and cinema. Owned and run by the city of St. Catharines, its first season began on 14 November.
Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects (DSAI), FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (FPAC) has a capacity of almost 1,500 spread across the four spaces: Partridge Hall, a 781-seat adjustable acoustic concert hall; the 304-seat Cairns Recital Hall; Robertson Theatre, a black box performance space with a 200 capacity; and a 199-seat cinema.
FPAC is next door to another new facility, Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Students have access to FPAC’s facilities, with the two institutions working in partnership.
‘FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is unique both in design and in partnerships,’ said Steve Solski, executive director of FPAC. ‘The partnership with Brock means 500 students a day can utilise the teaching space, enhancing the synergy of entertainment, culture, outreach and education this facility is designed to do.’
Built in the heart of St. Catharines, its design includes a honey-coloured façade and a lobby space that is viewable from the street. Each of the rooms is fully soundproofed, and features state of the art equipment.
‘These multi-purpose rooms provide enormous versatility to mount a wide rage of performances and events,’ said Gary McCluskie, principal at DSAI. ‘[It’s] a rare example of a venue that can accommodate acoustic and amplified concerts without changing the architectural character of the space.’