City selects Designer for Fredericton’s New Performing Arts Centre

The City has selected Diamond Schmitt Architects to design the new Performing Arts Centre, bringing Fredericton a step closer to building a new live performance venue to replace the current failing Playhouse facility.

The City has announced its intention to engage the services of Diamond Schmitt following a procurement process managed by a committee appointed by both the City and the Playhouse Board. The Committee evaluated project proposals from design firms all over North America before settling on Diamond Schmitt, which it deemed as having submitted the highest quality and most cost-effective proposal. Diamond Schmitt will lead a multidisciplinary team including several based in Fredericton and elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.

City Council and the Playhouse Board voted to approve the committee’s recommendation of Diamond Schmitt during a November 9th meeting of Regular City Council and further authorized the expenditure of $1M to complete the detailed design.

The City has directed that the Performing Arts Centre be constructed on the site of the current Playhouse and, further, that Diamond Schmitt explore the options for better integration with the Fredericton Convention Centre. Performances and other operations will be suspended during construction to allow for an efficient building process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that the Playhouse has a huge economic impact on Fredericton: Restaurants, hotels and other businesses benefit greatly from having an exciting live performance venue in our downtown,” said Councillor Bruce Grandy, Chair of the City’s Development Committee. “That’s why it’s vital to continue moving forward with the PAC project so that we can ensure the future of this economic anchor in our city.”

He explained that Diamond Schmitt’s detailed design, with costing, will be extremely helpful in ongoing discussions with other levels of government about funding the project. The City of Fredericton has already committed to paying $14M toward the new Performing Arts Centre. “This takes us one step closer to shovels in the ground,” Coun. Grandy said.

“The site-specific design will balance fiscal restraint with the size and type of building needed so that we end up with the right building for our community’s needs,” said Mayor Mike O’Brien, adding that the City always includes planning and design as part of the normal course for major projects.

A series of studies have concluded that the existing Playhouse is at the end of its life and the only feasible solution is a replacement. “A comprehensive design readies us for the current Playhouse’s unavoidable failure, allowing us to move quickly with a clear plan in order to avoid a long closure,” Mayor O’Brien said.

Diamond Schmitt is expected to provide a detailed design to the City within a year. 

About Diamond Schmitt

Established in 1975, Diamond Schmitt Architects is a leading North American full-service architectural practice based in Toronto. Working throughout Canada, the US and Europe with an enviable track record in designing cultural spaces, Diamond Schmitt has designed more than 60 halls or performance spaces within 39 performance facilities. The firm has won more than 375 regional, national, and international awards for design, including seven Governor General Medals for Architecture (Canada’s highest honor in architecture) and six times for Architectural Record Magazine’s Good Design is Good Business Award. Diamond Schmitt Architects is ranked among the top 100 architecture practices in the world and ranked 10th in the cultural sector by the UK publication Building Design. Learn more: https://dsai.ca/