Junction East structure designed to build ‘collective memory’

City officials were given a virtual tour of the proposed Junction East building during a special meeting of City Council on Tuesday, which outlined what to consider in the $93.2 million project.

The proposed structure of Junction East is designed to be “a place where you want to bring your family, your friends, people who are visiting Sudbury for the first time”.

So described Nicola Casciato, director of Toronto-based WZMH Architects, at Tuesday night’s special city council meeting, where he gave city officials a virtual tour of the proposed library/art gallery. by his team.

It’s about “building a collective memory,” he said of the structure, adding that, like at Science North, it’s hoped that visitors will leave the site remembering not only the activity at which they participated, but also souvenirs of the building itself.

Joined by building stakeholders who each pleaded for the city council to go ahead with the project, Casciato offered city councilors a virtual tour of the proposed building, providing them with their first in-depth look at the project in its current incarnation.

During the meeting, he was greeted by a largely celebratory atmosphere around the council chambers, whose members were delighted to see the design more than six years after the project was first proposed.

Although Tuesday’s meeting also touched on costs associated with Junction East, which doubled to approximately $93.2 million, including contingencies, the majority of this week’s meeting focused on opportunities to come with Junction East.

“We are worth it – we are worth it”, Ward 10 Coun. said Fern Cormier. “It’s hard not to get excited when we see the pictures – it’s hard not to get excited when we see the potential.”

The project as proposed on Tuesday consists of a four-story, 104,000 square foot building to be built south of the Sudbury Theater Center on what is currently a parking lot. A walking path adorned with public art on the side of the STC building would run the length between the two buildings.

Although these two buildings are not connected, Casciato said their proximity was intended to create a “cultural campus” similar to a post-secondary institution, with the space between them providing pedestrian access from Paris Street to its Shaughnessy Street entrance. .

Although its east-facing facade on rue de Paris was designed to impress passers-by on this major artery on the Pont des Nations and provide a “very strong presence”, its west-facing side of rue Shaughnessy was designed as the main pedestrian access point.

“We pushed back the Shaugnessy building to create more of a plaza in front of the building,” Casciato said, noting that there is room for trees, a seating area and a gathering space in front of the building.

Large windows between vertical pillars overlook Shaughnessy Street, which Casciato describes as “the most transparent facade, the most welcoming facade. We want visitors to feel welcome and we want them to be able to navigate the building before entering.

The ground floor enters what is called a “city living room”, which is its main entrance hall and is represented by the three user groups. To the right is a retail store for the Art Gallery of Sudbury and, straight ahead, a hall for the Multicultural and Folk Arts Association of Sudbury.

The Maker space and multi-purpose rooms accompany the area as part of its many library program features, with public access computers at the rear of the ground floor facing Rue de Paris.

To the left is a library marketplace consisting of a service desk, behind which is an angled walkway that leads to the second floor.

Seating, bookshelves, a meeting room, and other library amenities fill the second floor. The third floor only partially spans the length of the building, with its east side open and facing the second floor children’s library. The third floor is designed as a quieter space, with a local history area, quiet study rooms and collaborative spaces.

The fourth floor is dedicated to the Art Gallery of Sudbury, with various gallery spaces and other amenities. A family art studio and multi-purpose room open onto a roof terrace, allowing for indoor and outdoor activities, and space for a small roof garden has been created. allocated to overlook Shaughnessy Street Court.

The $93.2 million price includes the acquisition of land across the street on the west side of Shaughnessy Street for parking.

The cost also includes $4.4 million for improved accessibility and $6.1 million for enhanced sustainability efforts, which include a net zero carbon emissions plan.

The facility will replace the operation of three buildings, including the main downtown branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library, the Art Gallery of Sudbury currently housed in the historic Bell Mansion, and the Multicultural and Folk Arts Association of Sudbury, based downtown.

Supporters of all three facilities attended Tuesday’s meeting to voice their support for Junction East, all three of which cited their aging facilities as limiting their operations.

The Art Gallery of Sudbury has the most immediate need for the new facility due to provincially mandated accessibility requirements that its historic building cannot meet. As such, they must find an accessible space by the end of 2024.

The partners all want to work together on projects in their common space, said Bela Ravi, president of the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association, and have “already started planning things before everything was even in order and we are very excited. “.

This planning includes the neighboring Sudbury Theater Center which, although it has no physical footprint in the new building, will be linked to its neighbour’s programming.

“It will allow these very creative and innovative groups to develop new programs, improved programs that we have never seen before in our community through collaboration,” said Mayor Brian Bigger, adding that the facility is something something that people will “be proud of”. and bring their family and visitors for many years to come.

“When a family is looking for a place to spend a Saturday or Sunday together, sometimes they are looking for a variety of different activities in the same place and that is part of the charm of this whole collaboration and shows us the types of opportunities we have with the programming as we move forward.

Junction East was originally meant to be accompanied by Junction West, which would have consisted of a convention and entertainment center next to a private hotel, but that side of an overall project called “The Junction” stalled during the pandemic. The fact that the $58 million municipal funding allocated to Junction West would have to be transferred to Junction East due to its significant cost overruns, pending City Council approval, further seals its fate.

Tuesday’s meeting was for informational purposes only and carried no formal decision from the city council, whose members seemed fairly unified in their support for the project. Ward 11 County Bill Leduc expressed concern about its inflated costs, but said he was generally supportive of what was proposed as an “iconic building.”

City council members are expected to vote on a project design, financial plan and operational plan at a meeting in mid-June. According to the schedule, a tender and a contract would be issued during the first quarter of 2023 and the building would open in the spring of 2025.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs on Sudbury.com.

Ida M. Morgan