Signing a girder of glory

The Accolade Project celebrated the topping off of the formed concrete structure on Nov. 25. A tradition in the construction industry, milestones in construction are celebrated during the course of construction on a project. It is also customary to sign and date a structural steel beam as a remembrance of the effort involved to reach that milestone. PCL Constructors Canada Inc. arranged for the small celebration.

Left: Jugglers from York’s Faculty of Fine Arts helped kick off the Accolade Project and the Take Your Seat fundraising campaign

Signing the Accolade Project beam was the Dean of Fine Arts, Phillip Silver. The topping off ceremony capped 10 days of Accolade activities for Silver, students, faculty and staff of Fine Arts. On Nov. 15, York University officially launched the Accolade Project’s fundraising initiative titled the Take Your Seat program. The event featured performances from faculty and students, jugglers, entertainers and a multimedia event.

The new Accolade Project will total 330,000 square feet in two buildings and colonnade linkages along the south side of the York University Common. The total cost of the project – including capital expenditures and basic equipment needs such as sprung floors for dance, acoustically-sound studios for music and screening facilities for film – is estimated at $90 million.

Right: Phillip Silver signs a steel girder at the topping-off celebration

Substantial funding has already been committed by York University and the Ontario government through its SuperBuild program. York now aims to attract the balance from private sources.

The Take Your Seat program at the proscenium theatre and the recital hall in the Accolade East building provides members of the York community with an opportunity to lend their names in support of the project. For a $500 donation, faculty, staff, students and friends of York University can dedicate a seat and foster tomorrow’s leading creative talent.

“I am very pleased to report,” said Paul Marcus, president & CEO, “that we have raised $2.5 million toward our goal. I am very confident that we will be able to show continued support both outside and inside the University.”

Left: “When it comes to the arts, anything is possible,” says the Take Your Seat campaign poster

Marcus then introduced retired  York staff member Nancy Accinelli, who has remained involved with the University. Currently, she is working with Vanier College, assisting students with the college’s theatrical production. “This project means so much to us at York,” said Accinelli. “I support this project, after my 25 years here at York. I see so much potential here and this is so important. For less than the cost of two lattes a week, you can make this possible for the very talented faculty and students of this University.”

Once completed, York’s new Accolade project will be composed of two buildings that will contain dedicated theatre space and classroom space to be shared with other programs in the University. The East Building will be located east of the Centre for Film & Theatre. This will be the new home for the Music Department, Dance Department and The Art Gallery of York University. The Music Department will now have purpose-built practice studios, recording, instructional and performance spaces for the first time. The Dance Department will have expanded studio space with improved facilities and amenities all in close proximity to new faculty office space.

Right and below: Scenes from the launch of the Take Your Seat campaign

The feature facilities on the main floor are a 325-seat proscenium arch theatre and a 325-seat recital hall. These are the first performance venues of this type on campus.

Included in the classroom component of the East Building (1,380 seats) is a 500-seat lecture theatre equipped with the latest instructional technology and equipped for cinema-quality film projection. All of the classrooms, from 40 seats to 500 seats, are designed with a full complement of instructional technology, clear sightlines and accessible seating. This building also has 120 student computer stations in two computer labs and one open access study area.

The West Building will be north of the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, immediately west of Burton Auditorium. It is predominately a classroom building with 1,595 new classroom seats in rooms ranging in capacity from 40 seats to 400 seats. There will also be 210 computer student class and study stations. This building will be a welcoming link on the Common to the Fine Arts Complex. The spaciousness of the main floor lobby will be enhanced with an atrium from the basement to the third floor. Also featured in the lobby will be The Gallery, relocated from the main floor of the Goldfarb Centre and two new studios for Fine Arts Cultural Studies.