Posts tagged with "Diamond Schmitt Architects":

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Toronto delivers its largest subway expansion in decades

Toronto opened the largest expansion of its subway system in decades on December 17th, after years of construction and delays. The massive infrastructure project serves as a link between the city's northern suburbs and its urban core, with the new six-stop extension of Toronto's Line 1 passing through Toronto's municipal boundary into the York region, the area adjoining Toronto's northern border. The 5.3-mile extension of the Spadina Line adds six unique stations, bringing the system total to 75. Each station is designed as a standalone piece and features contextual artwork that reflects the surrounding neighborhood. By matching architects with artists early on in the visioning process, Toronto officials hoped that the station's site-specific designs would give residents a sense of ownership and connection to the new spaces. Will Alsop’s aLL Design, Foster + Partners, and Grimshaw Architects were among the firms selected to design the stations. The Spadina Line extension is intended to spur high-density development in Toronto’s northern suburban periphery. The City of Vaughan, at the terminus of the Spadina line, is taking the lead in this redevelopment by transforming the area around the station into a mixed-use district with Diamond Schmitt Architects and developer SmartCentres. The Toronto Star reports the forthcoming 100-acre Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will feature Diamond Schmitt's 55-story Transit City and the 14-story KPMG tower. In total, the City of Vaughn estimates that the development will one day be home to 25,000 residents, and support 11,000 jobs. According to CBC News, the $3.2 billion project should add an additional 36 million annual train trips, while reducing the number of car trips by 30 million, and reduce congestion across the city. The subway's costs will be split evenly between the City of Toronto, the York Region, and the Province of Toronto. Overseeing the Spadina Line strategy is the outgoing chief executive officer of the Toronto Transit Commission, Andy Byford, who will assume control of the New York City Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority body responsible for handling New York's subways, before the new year.
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Brutalist Building Revival: The National Arts Centre Reopens in Ottawa

All too often, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reports the demolition of yet another Brutalist structure—the perpetual bane of the public eye for reasons architects only half-pretend to care about. So it was refreshing to celebrate the reopening of the National Arts Centre (NAC) by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects. The $110 million overhaul retained the original architectural motifs, while opening it up to the public with large spans of glass and warm wood interiors. The existing one-million-square-foot NAC by Canadian architect Fred Lebensold was on the public’s blacklist from the start. Intended for the Canadian centennial in 1967, it wasn’t finished until 1969 and went over its $35.4 million budget by over $10 million. Critics immediately jumped on the excess budget and delayed opening as well as its style—a reporter for the Toronto Star dubbed it “the Alcatraz on the Rideau.” Beyond matters of taste, there were serious issues with the building. “When it was built in the 1960s, it was assumed that the only way you would go to the [NAC] was by car,” architect Donald Schmitt told AN. “So the building wasn’t really accessible to pedestrians, and the road down [to the entrance] meant that the building’s back faced the city.” Inside, natural lighting was limited and the thick concrete walls made Wi-Fi connection difficult, much to the frustration of its modern users. Thus, in 2011, the NAC hired Diamond Schmitt to renew the building for Canada’s sesquicentennial. The first phase was complete in time for Canada Day this past Saturday with the remaining two phases slated for completion by early 2018. Schmitt’s design for the new wing builds out from the original terraces, now enclosed in large part by a 28,300-square-foot glazed curtain wall system, creating an airy effect amidst the weighty frame. Echoing the original concrete facade fins, which encase the stage house, audience chambers, lobby, and public spaces, Diamond Schmitt installed five new vertical fins that serve as window mullion caps. The shallowest fin is used on support spaces; intermediate fins are applied to public lobbies; and the deepest cap is located in the north atrium, to frame the newly created views to Parliament Hill. A broad, white oak staircase leads the public deeper into the building and doubles as stadium seating, reminiscent of the stairs the firm designed at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. In all, the addition creates six major new spaces to accommodate various audiences and programming, including an expanded “Panorama Room” that looks over the Rideau Canal. “We wanted to reveal views that just weren’t possible with the old structure,” Schmitt said. In keeping with Lebensold’s original geometry, hexagonal prefabricated Douglas Fir coffers in the ceiling double as structural support and Ontario limestone was used for the floors. “We cut [the limestone] on the flat for a curvilinear shape—a fleury cut—that creates a unique pattern,” added Schmitt. Above the new entrance on Elgin Street, a glass tower the NAC dubbed “the Lantern” rises 68 feet tall, intending to create a new landmark aligned with Ottawa's iconic Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. The Lantern is the opposite of the former inscrutable main entrance that faced the canal, where a never realized public plaza and lagoon were to have been situated, virtually inaccessible from the street. The new light-filled entrance is digitally enabled to screen performances on four sides of its hexagonal facade, a flashy upgrade amidst Elgin Street and Parliament Hill’s gothic revival architecture. With an on-time completion (even with a tight 18-month construction schedule) and praise from local officials and media, it seems that the building’s latest iteration is already off to a solid start. And for Diamond Schmitt Architects, it is a promising warm-up to its renovation of Ottawa’s 1912 Union Station, another heritage site (and architectural dupe to New York’s original Penn Station), which is currently under construction and set to reopen and house the Senate in 2018.
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Design unveiled for The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts in Lubbock, Texas

The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts in Lubbock, Texas—the late musician's hometown—will start construction this fall. According to Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects, the firm behind the project, the facility will be a "catalyst for downtown revitalization in the hometown of the pop star whose brief career influenced and inspired generations." Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, project architect Matthew Leila said the project "has the chance to change the perception of Lubbock." He and the firm believe Lubbock has been "starving" for "something to house the growing artistic community, that functions for all its constituent roots." Diamond Schmitt's performance center will offer a 2,200 seat auditorium, a ballet center, multipurpose event space, and a bistro. A decommissioned telecommunications tower, which rises to 200 feet, will visually broadcast the building's location with what Leila calls a "squiggle" of a neon-blue light. "It can be read for miles that this is an artistic place," said Leila. "We were struck by how singular energetic moments—like a canyon, for example—succeed the desert landscape." Introducing Buddy Holly Hall from Michelle Stephens on Vimeo. The triple-height lobby will feature a grand spiraling staircase, though Leila dismissed any links between the stairs and its luminous counterpart outside. Instead, he explained that the staircase will add drama to the interior and emphasize the building's role as a performance space. The lobby stretches across the site; a glass facade spans the south side letting in generous amounts of daylight. The facade is also equipped with an array of shading devices to combat excessive solar gain during the summer. The auditorium volume will be clad with brick on the lower levels and metal paneling—which will  reflect the sky—on its upper section. Construction on the project is set to start this fall with costs expected to total $146 million. Parkhill Smith & Cooper will also contribute to the project as landscape architects. The center joins a list of 35 performance centers in Diamond Schmitt's portfolio which includes their collaboration with Thomas Heatherwick to reimagine the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York.