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David Foster Arts Centre will feature exposed steel trusses inside

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by Shannon Moneo

When the David Foster Arts Centre opens in April 2011, there’s a good chance the famed musician and producer will be on hand to unveil the $4-million facility in his old hometown of Saanich, B.C.
David Foster Arts Centre will feature exposed steel trusses inside


When the David Foster Arts Centre opens in April 2011, there’s a good chance the famed musician and producer will be on hand to unveil the $4-million facility in his old hometown of Saanich, B.C.

Foster’s possible appearance will likely draw plenty of spectators to a building that, beyond its recognizable name, features noteworthy structural steel work, said the project’s architect.

Custom-shaped roof trusses will reference the shape of the existing building, to which the new structure will be connected, said Adam Fawkes, of Hughes Condon Marler Architects’ Victoria office.

Set to start in July, the project involves construction of a new 800-square-metre arts centre and renovation of 300-square-metres of the existing art gallery and multi-purpose space at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.

The new construction will match the existing buildings, achieved by sloped steel frame roofing, said Donavon Bishop, project manager as well as Saanich’s development and municipal facilities manager.

“It’s quite an interesting design,” he said.

Beyond the design, structural steel will be used for a majority of the new work, added Jonathan Reiter, the project’s structural engineer and an associate at the Victoria office of Read Jones Christoffersen.

But it won’t be standard, open web steel joists.

Those specially-made, long-span, scissor trusses will likely be manufactured either in Victoria or Duncan, added Reiter, a 1989 graduate of the University of Calgary’s engineering faculty.

And instead of standing seam metal on the inside, exterior sloped sections of the butterfly roof design, will be planted with grass or sedum, said Fawkes, a 2001 graduate of Dalhousie’s architecture school.

The effect will complement the nearby large, grass bank.

The lower level of the exterior will be clad in cedar.

Inside the facility, the vaulted ceiling will show off the unique trusses, which will be painted a different colour than the ceiling deck, Fawkes said.

In many buildings, the structural work is hidden by finishes.

Not so here, said Reiter.

The new construction will create four areas: one 130-square metre pottery studio, two 100-square-metre-each fine arts studios and a recording studio with three music practice rooms.

The pottery studio will include a large kiln room and will contain two electric and two gas kilns.

The copious amounts of heat they give off won’t be wasted.

“We’ll be using heat generated by the kilns and putting that into the mechanical system,” Fawkes said of the heat recovery plan.

“It would go straight up otherwise.”

The two fine arts studios, meanwhile, will be open spaces with exposed concrete floors.

The vaulted ceiling will let in lots of natural light, a necessity for many artists.

One feature is that the main corridor, running by the two adjacent fine arts studios, is made of movable glass partitions.

When closed, people can see into the studios, but noise is kept out.

When special events occur, the glass doors can be opened and one large space is created.

At the end of the corridor is the recording studio.

It is somewhat of the anchor tenant in the new centre, given Foster’s heavy links to the music industry, Fawkes said.

Built three metres underground of custom cast concrete, the music studio will be a bunker of musical creativity, offset by one large and two small music practice rooms.

The roughly 60-square-metre, almost ground-level roof of the studio will serve as a stage for outdoor performances.

The structure will be built to LEED Silver standards. It’s aiming for 33 out of a possible 70 LEED points.

Points are expected in a number of areas including: erosion and settlement control, bike storage and change rooms, stormwater management, light pollution reduction, water efficient landscaping (50 percent reduction), a 20 percent water use reduction, 7.5 percent of building materials are of recycled content and the use of low-emitting indoor construction materials.

The arts centre was also roughed-in for a future solar hot water system, Fawkes said.

Before the sun can rise on the system, Saanich will seek grant money to complete the project. The new facility has received two-thirds of its funding from the federal and provincial government’s Infrastructure Program.

Saanich contributed the remaining $1.33-milion.

Following the city’s tradition of christening public buildings after prominent Saanich residents, the David Foster Arts Centre will be used by local visual artists, writers and entertainers.

“With a long list of Grammy Awards and Academy Award nominations to his credit, David has become a giant in the international music field,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard.

“He has applied his considerable talent to raising funds for children requiring organ transplants. To recognize his musical success, humanitarian efforts and family ties in Saanich, council named the arts centre after David Foster.”

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