The National Ballet School (NBS) ranks as one of the finest ballet training institutions in the world, on par with the Royal Ballet School in London, the School of American Ballet in New York, and the Paris Opera Ballet School. NBS is the only institution in North America to offer an integral program of professional dance training, advanced level academic education and residential living all on one site. Its state-of-the-art educational and training programs provide students with the skills to become creative, self-assured individuals for whatever career they pursue upon graduation. Approximately 700 students participate in the NBS programs each week. Project Grand Jeté was conceived to ensure the ongoing evolution of its standards and programs with state-of-the-art facilities. The project weaves together new and heritage buildings. New construction comprises the Celia Franca Training Centre, a vertical campus of three transparent, elevated structures organized into an asymmetrical composition around an existing heritage building, Northfield House, and linked to hertige structures to the north and south via connecting bridges accessed off the piano nobile level.
Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB Architects)
Location: 400 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Canada
Structural Engineer: Yolles Partnership Inc.
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Crossey Engineering Ltd.
Landscape Architect: The MBTW Group
Arborist: Shady Lane Expert Tree Care Inc.
Branding Consultant: Scott Thornley + Company Inc.
Signage Consultant: Bhandari & Plater Inc.
Urban Planners: Urban Strategies Inc.
Food Services: Marrack + Associates Inc.
AV Consultant: Engineering Harmonics
Public Art: Catherine Williams Fine Art Consultants Inc.
IT Consultant: Graycom Analysis
Furniture Consultant: MCD Design Group Ltd.
Acoustic Consultant: Aercoustics Engineering Ltd.
Elevator Consultant: Soberman Engineering Ltd.
Traffic Consultant: iTrans Consulting Inc.
Geotechnical Consultant: Shaheen & Peaker Ltd.
Shoring Consultant: RWB Engineering Ltd.
Land Surveyors: Rabideau & Czerwinski
Quality Surveyor (Arch/Struc): A.W. Hooker & Associates Ltd.
Quality Surveyor (Mech/Elec): Clare Randall-Smith & Ass. Ltd.
Building Code Consultant: Larden Muniak Consulting Inc.
Project Area: 180,000 sqf
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: Eduard Hueber, Tom Arban
The Celia Franca Centre acts as a backdrop to the historic masonry structures, minimizing the impact of the overall mass on the streetscape. The building is organized as a series of stacked horizontal platforms with floor to ceiling glazing. The platforms become stages to the city, while the city is acquired as a backdrop to the dancers in training.
The space between Northfield House and the Celia Franca Centre is enclosed to create the Town Square, the heart of the school. This three-storey space foregrounds the heritage masonry walls of the heritage building and features an L-shaped Corten steel fireplace and a large digital projection screen. As the space from which all the major support programs radiate and converge – the café, physio department, and Resource Centre – The Town Square embodies NBS’s philosophy to nurture the development of the whole person – body, mind and soul.
The Jarvis Street campus both participates in the intensification and revitalization of its urban context and resonates the balance of tradition and innovation in the art of the ballet by emphasizing an interplay between the heritage elements and the contemporary architecture.