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Stratford’s new Tom Patterson Theatre to be a showstopper

Patricia Williams
Stratford’s new Tom Patterson Theatre to be a showstopper
STRATFORD FESTIVAL/HARIRI PONTARINI ARCHITECTS — The curvilinear design of the new Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, Ont. creates nooks in the building’s interior, with the intent to enable patrons to engage in quiet conversation. Above is a view of the lobby.

While some details need to be finalized, Ontario’s Stratford Festival hopes to start construction next month on a new Tom Patterson Theatre.

Originally constructed as a curling rink, the existing building is approaching the end of its viable life. The auditorium is considered desperately in need of updates.

The new theatre will be built at 48 Water St., the site of the existing facility. At a meeting in early February, Stratford City Council voted to sell the property to the Festival.

The existing structure, which also houses a community centre, will be demolished.

“We hope to start (demolition) in March but we need to finalize the transfer of title before we can begin,” Festival executive director Anita Gaffney said in an email.

Demolition is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

The new 77,564-square-foot theatre has been designed by architect Siamak Hariri of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects.

With inspiration taken from its riverside setting, the theatre’s exterior features undulating glass walls, hung with thin bronze mullions. At the heart of the building, clad in lime-washed brick masonry, is the 600-seat auditorium. A terraced garden will stretch from one end of the site to the other.

The project is being undertaken by a team that includes structural engineers Thornton Tomasetti, mechanical-electrical engineers Arup Canada Inc., landscape architects Holbrook & Associates and The Planning Partnership.

Construction costs are estimated at approximately $45.7 million. The total project cost, including consultants’ fees, furniture, fixtures, equipment and the like is approximately $68 million.

EllisDon has been retained to construct the new theatre.

The federal government has allocated $20 million to the project through the Building Canada Fund. A further $20 million has been promised by the Ontario government.

Gifts of $10 million have come from Festival board chair Dan Bernstein and his wife Claire Foerster as well as from Ophelia Lazaridis, a long-time member of the board of governors.

A further $10 million has been raised to date, for a total of $70 million. Last month, the Festival launched a $100 million fundraising campaign, with $68 million earmarked for the building itself. The remainder will be used to create an endowment for the facility and the programs it will house.

Design concepts for the new theatre were unveiled by the Festival last August. Hariri, the board’s unanimous choice, was selected following an extensive international search.

He and his firm have designed such buildings as the Baha’I Temple in Chile, the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University, which won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, and the new Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University in London, Ont.

“We are eager to get moving on the magnificent design Siamak has created for us,” Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a press release.

“Rebuilding the Tom Patterson Theatre is a key aspect of our strategic plan and vital to the future success of the Stratford Festival.”

The Festival leased the existing theatre from the city for 46 years. It held its final performance in the space Oct. 1, 2017. It hopes to unveil the new theatre with the launch of the 2020 season.

It has agreed to pay the city $4 million for the property plus $900,000 in transition costs associated with relocating tenants of the community centre to other locations.

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