Perfomance enhancer

Jennifer Boudreau on behalf of CEI Architecture
28 Feb 2011

CEI Architecture completes new performing arts facility for Simon Fraser University

Completed in February 2010, the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is the new home for Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts - a 135,000 sq ft multi-disciplinary facility for the visual and performing arts which includes theatre, dance and film along with 2D and 3D visual art studies. The objective of the new facilities was to expand and enhance the academic and life opportunities for students.

From an academic perspective, the building and its learning spaces provide unprecedented access to professional-level performance space in all disciplines, attracting the highest calibre of students, creating an environment that supports maximum learning outcomes, and providing an inviting atmosphere to draw professional artists to the facility, to facilitate integration of the university with the performance community, and further enhance the students’ learning experiences.

The new building has enhanced the education process in a number of ways. First, it brings all the school’s programs together into a facility that is able to support both highly focused program-based learning and interdisciplinary pedagogy in the heart of the vibrant downtown core of Vancouver. The facility provides students with professional-sized spaces customised to their needs, with modern technology and infrastructure necessary to support the school’s vision for the educational requirements of contemporary arts.

The design of the facility has the refined look of a performance space but with the warmth and humanity of an artist’s loft. A simple palette of common and clean line materials were either honed to give a noble character or left rough with the design objective of creating a tactile, visceral physical environment that provides a launching point for the students’ artistic ambitions. The project as a whole is fulfilling the original goals. The various disciplines have embraced the flexible space designs and in some cases have found new innovative ways of using studio space not previously anticipated.

One example would be the Theatre department using the Teaching Gallery’s movable wall to form a temporary video studio. By doing so, dancers could be shot in real time and projected into the Experimental theatre as virtual dancers in concert with a live performance at that time. Given the proximity of the Gallery to the Theatre, dancers were able to interchange themselves between the virtual studio and live stage without the audiences noticing. The school has also collaborated with one the city’s most successful arts festivals since its opening with continued collaboration planned for the future.

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