In 2003 Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), located on neglected Jarvis St, unveiled their 100 million dollar master plan, Project Grand Jeté. KPMB and GBCA would no longer allow Jarvis St, the former in vogue area of Toronto, to continue to be considered a run-down, forgotten artery. The expansion turned out to be a near perfect integration of contemporary design and heritage buildings, giving Jarvis St. a much-needed “façade-lift”. Phase 1 of Project Grand Jeté involves a fusion of architectural space, movement, dance, and grandeur. From north-to-south there is a series of stacked “stages” going from a 6-storey north tower, to a 5-storey “bar”, and then the 4-storey “pavilion”. One of the most interesting aspects of the NBS is the interaction between the north tower, specifically, and the street. From the street the north tower allows for clear, dramatic views into three large dance studios, reminding the public of the creativity flowing through the campus and providing the dancers with a stage to the city. The other pièce de résistance the NBS has to offer is the “town square”, which exemplifies KPMB’s philosophy of providing a harmonious space where the mind, body, and soul can be nurtured. The “town square” brings together the academic facilities, the café, and the various dance studios, there-by attending to the students mind, body, and soul respectively. After the projects completion in 2005 it went on to win many different design awards including the prestigious Governor General’s Award in 2008. However, KPMB and GBCA’s real aim when designing Stage 1 of the Grand Jeté Project was not to get a few fancy awards, it was to make a building centered on the needs of the student. To make a place where the students can feel comfortable. To make a place where creativity can thrive and permeate its very walls, revealing itself to the surrounding city.
– Ryan W Dixon