Location Burlington, ON
Size 62,000 ft²
Program Main lobby, two theaters, backstage space
On any given night, residents of Burlington, Ontario, can hop on a bus heading downtown to see a dance troupe, listen to a children’s choir, or experience a symphonic orchestra. This hasn’t always been the case. For years, local residents and artists had to travel outside of Burlington to experience the performing arts. That changed in December 2011 when the new Burlington Performing Arts Centre opened its doors. The building was the first LEED Gold freestanding performing arts center in Ontario and was the product of a long existing cultural and sustainable goal. “We had been unique within the greater Toronto area in that we were the only community that didn’t have a performing arts center,” says Graham Frampton, the facility’s operations manager. “This project has been the dream of individuals within the community, both artists and politicians alike.”
The center is home to a wide variety of performing arts. It taps into the strong local creative culture, but it is also used by many traveling acts and artists. The space itself is composed of a black box studio theater and a larger 718-seat main theater. Being truly multidisciplinary, the center uses these areas for performances of music, dance, theater, and comedy of all genres and types. Due to Burlington’s unique historical marching band culture, instrumental groups and marching bands are especially frequent, including the notable Team Tour Band, which originated in Burlington and now performs around the world.
Client City of Burlington
Architect Diamond Schmitt Architects
Project Manager MHPM
General Contractor Bird Construction
Structural Engineer Halcrow Yolles
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer Crossey Engineering
Landscape Architect DTAH
Sustainable Design Consultant Enermodal Engineering
In building the center, the City of Burlington was able to divert 90 percent of construction waste from landfills. In addition, 19 percent of materials used in the building contain recycled content, and 50 percent of all wood-based materials used were FSC certified (1). The structure also has a comprehensive, automated system programmed to run the building only while occupied and operational, all of which help the center achieve a 35 percent reduction in energy consumption relative to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings, a set of energy guidelines in Canada. “It’s a very tight and capable building,” Frampton says. “Last year, we were well under our utilities budget.”
The old Halton Region Police Station was the brownfield site used as a starting point for the project. Selected because of its proximity to downtown and the need to redevelop the piece of land, the structure now sits only a block away from the downtown bus terminal that provides convenient and sustainable transportation for the center’s patrons. By building the venue close to a gas station, the project also obtained a LEED credit for redeveloping a contaminated site by installing underground berms to prevent any hydrocarbons from traveling onto the property. The efforts have ensured that there have been zero issues since the center was built.
“There was a lot of effort put into retaining or replacing trees on the site,” Frampton says (2). “Any trees that had to be removed, we made sure to plant a tree back on the property.” The gardens that surround the facility were also conceived with environmental responsibility and conservation in mind. Although the Burlington Performing Arts Center does not currently have any plans for a rainwater collection system, the plants and grasses are all low maintenance and require little to no irrigation (3). “The things that are planted don’t need a lot of care,” he says.
Certification LEED Gold
Site Redeveloped brownfield site
Materials 90% of construction waste diverted from landfills, 19% of construction materials contained recycled content
Water Designed to have 40% reduced use of water
Energy Projected to use 35% less energy
The main lobby of the building is aesthetically defined by a large curtainwall all the way around (4). The space is lit by daylight, and the lights typically don’t have to be turned on until the sun goes down. Highly efficient gas-filled glass is used throughout the building to minimize heat gain and loss. The building has an nLight system to control the light fixtures through occupancy and daylight sensors to dim the lights or turn them off. The layout of the interior was intelligently designed to make use of available energy by putting the corridors on the perimeter and keeping the working areas of the building away from exterior walls.
Community enrichment and the importance of retaining local artists were driving factors in developing the center’s philosophy. “We have two planks to our mission,” Frampton says. “To help local artists by providing them with a place to perform and also drawing acts to our community from outside the area.” This affords residents the chance to attend performances without leaving Burlington and improves commerce in the downtown area. The staff also partners with many community entities and youth groups. Recently, the environmental organization BurlingtonGreen held an event called ‘Eco Summit’ for the city’s youth at the center and used the building’s sustainable objectives as a focal point. The summit featured famed anthropologist and environmentalist, Jane Goodall, as the keynote speaker.