Humber College Centre for Creative and Performing Arts

The Humber College Performing Arts School transforms an ice-hockey arena into a school for dance, theatre, music, media studies. The building is one of several in the neighbourhood that Humber has appropriated to expand its campus with schools that reflect the character and the requirements of ‘real life’ work environments.

Completed on a fast-track schedule and a tight budget, the project involved limited changes to the exterior of the building. The primary objective was to create 10 superior-quality studios for acting, dance, media, film, cabaret, black box theatre with sprung floors, stage lighting, sound systems and acoustical treatments. Each of the studios has slightly different proportions and ceiling heights range from 10 to 18 feet. A scenery workshop, change rooms, a green room, and other “backstage” and media editing facilities create a complete environment that is reflective of a professional theatre. Wall and door assemblies were designed for acoustic isolation and reflection while fabric wrapped wall panels and ceiling panels were designed for reverberation.

To counteract the dark, insular quality of the arena, and to create a distinctive brand identity for the building, the architects created a digital wallpaper of spliced and abstracted photographic images in bold, rainbow hues that reflects the vibrant, creative spirit of the performing arts. It wraps around the central core of the building and against this backsplash, an informal café and lounge off the main entrance invites community and social interaction. Recessed ceilings fitted with canary-yellow sound absorptive acoustical panels and hidden lighting, and also large skylights with deep light wells painted vibrant hues, further enliven the public spaces with natural light and additional hints of colour.

With this project the community lost an arena, but gained a multipurpose gymnasium complete with change facilities, that is used for year-round activities. A separate entrance makes it easily accessible to both the school and the community. Humber College has a standing agreement with the Toronto District School Board for school use of the facility. The cabaret and black box theatre are also intended to be used as venues for community performances.

Humber College, Toronto, ON

Size:  55,000 sq.ft.
Completion:  February 2010

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