January 15, 2007
by Canadian Architect
The Jarvis Street Campus at Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), which opened to Canadian public and critical acclaim in November 2005, has received one of the most coveted architectural awards, a 2007 Institute Honor Award for Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
As one of 11 architectural projects selected by the American jury from over 450 submissions world-wide, NBS’s new campus is the sole Canadian building honoured for 2007 and only the fourth since the AIA first bestowed the awards in 1949.
The Jarvis Street campus is Stage I of Project Grand Jet, NBS’s $100-million capital expansion. It represents a close collaboration between NBS and the joint venture team of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Goldsmith Borgal and Company Limited Architects (KPMB/GBCA). The result is a superb integration of heritage buildings and contemporary architecture that respects the traditions of classical ballet while embracing its evolution.
“The success of this project lies in the many years and countless hours devoted to careful planning and thoughtful consideration of the needs of a modern professional ballet school,” said Mavis Staines, NBS Artistic Director.
“On behalf of the students, staff and Board of NBS, I extend our heartfelt thanks to the design team with whom we had a wonderfully collaborative relationship, to each and every architect, consultant and craftsman who worked tirelessly and lovingly to build our new home, and to former NBS Administrative Director Bob Sirman who brought all his skills to bear to oversee this complex project,” said Staines.
With contributions from all three levels of government, as well as from hundreds of individuals, corporations and foundations, the Jarvis Street Campus has been heralded as a model for successful public/private urban development. The campus was built in tandem with Context Development’s Radio City condo and townhouse development; the two projects now read as a single landmark development on the former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation site and herald the revitalization of Jarvis Street, once Toronto’s premier residential address.
In selecting NBS as a recipient for 2007, the AIA jury commented: “This is a new kind of civic place with seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces…powerful and yet well balanced in its context…(it) works well in the environment and is an important thread to the community.”
“NBS’s new campus has had a transformative effect, not just on the School itself, but on the neighbourhood and the city,” said Staines. “It is particularly gratifying to me to see that dance as a living, breathing art form is now accessible to all through the soaring glass studios which front directly on to Jarvis Street.”
As Stage I of Project Grand Jet, the Jarvis Street Campus encompasses almost the entire western block of Jarvis from Maitland Street south to Carleton Street in downtown Toronto. Stage II, the complete renovation of NBS’s Maitland Street property for an expanded student residence, will be completed later this year by GBCA.
Canada’s National Ballet School is a world leader in the training of professional dancers and teachers. Its core program is the Professional Ballet Program, which offers full-time dance training, academic education and residence for talented students from Grade 6 to 12, and intensive dance training for post-secondary students. NBS also offers a full-time teacher training program and a host of part-time and recreational programs for over 1,000 students from age 6 to adult. NBS graduates can be found as dancers, choreographers, artistic directors, teachers, and administrators in over 50 dance companies world-wide and even more schools around the globe. NBS will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2009/10.