August 1, 2012
Midland, Ontario cultural centre a “living room” for the community, stakeholders say
A 30,000-square-foot facility designed to function as an arts and cultural hub in the south Georgian Bay region is now open in the town of Midland, Ont.
Designed by Toronto-based architect Howard Rideout and constructed by IHD Design Build of Penetanguishine at a cost of $7.5 million, the Midland Cultural Centre incorporates two storeys of performance, visual arts and social spaces for events, salons and other cultural exchanges.
The building houses a Rotary Hall event space, designed to accommodate everything from musical and dance performances to lectures and even weddings, a 120-seat theatre for the Huronia Players, and the Quest Art School and Gallery as well as a café.
Conceptually, the centre was designed as a living room for the community.
A central atrium acts like a hotel lobby, integrating each of the separate building functions into one hub.
The design features a transparent base along the street, so that events taking place within the building can be seen by passersby.
“I wanted the building to be permeable, to allow people to easily see inside, but to also act like a continuous storefront window, inviting people in the community into a space I thought would function as the town’s living room,” Rideout said.
Funded by the Weber Foundation, a local private foundation, the purpose-built facility was conceived as a creative catalyst for the renewal of downtown Midland.
The project team included mechanical and electrical engineering consultants Merber Inc., structural consultants Quantum Engineering, theatre consultant Richard Smerdon, Swallow Acoustic Consultants Ltd. and code consultant Leber/Rubes.
Locally sourced materials were used in construction of the facility.
Rideout, who had collaborated previously with IHD on three houses in Simcoe County, views the building “as a large, modern house,” designed with the intimacy of residential construction and detailed like a house.
“For example, I originally envisioned the use of natural stone on the exterior,” he said. “But when I was introduced by (Weber Foundation head) Reinhart Weber to Atlas Block, I was immediately drawn to the company’s Heritage Stone product.
“I right away imagined using the largest block for the exterior and for an interior feature wall, as it had the same scale and texture and caught the light similar to rough-cut Jerusalem stone.”
Rideout, principal of Howard Rideout Architect Inc., ultimately used a variety of sizes of the manufactured stone product to create a complex irregular pattern.
“I wanted to create a modern pattern that would catch the light in a complex way.”
Built inches from the property line, the building is constructed on a “raft slab” of substantial thickness.
“Once we tore down the existing building that was on the site, we found the soil was not solid,” Rideout said. “As a solution, we created a raft slab.”
Concrete block walls support the second floor’s, concrete core-slab flooring.
The centre now provides a permanent home for the Huronia Players, previously relegated to a site outside of town, and the Quest Art School and Gallery, most recently housed in leased space downtown.
Both are considered local fixtures in the community.
Thousands attended the grand opening in early June of the centre, located on King Street.
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