Mitchell Hall receives National Heritage Award for Engineering Conservation

Posted on November 13, 2020

Mitchell Hall

Mitchell Hall, the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) that underwent an $85-million dollar restoration, has received a national heritage award.

The Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) gave its Award of Merit in Conservation: Engineering for the work of Michael Park (RJC Engineers) and Andre Scheinman (Heritage Preservation Consultant) in preserving the heritage of the building, including the original 1930s historical facade.

“We are thrilled to share that Mitchell Hall is being recognized with this national honour,” said Queen’s Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand, Artsci’94. “We worked closely with donors who shared our vision of creating a state-of-the-art building that preserves its history and pays homage to the past. Their philanthropic support helped realize this vision, and now the entire community benefits from this special place.”

The building, which had its grand opening in the spring of 2019, was made possible through more than $50 million in philanthropic support. The federal and Ontario governments also contributed $22 million to the project. In 2018, a generous gift from Bruce Mitchell, Sc'68, was announced and the building was renamed in his honour.

“Queens has every right to be very proud of how this has been repurposed into a new, vital, creative and important element in the education of our next generation of leaders,” said Mr. Mitchell upon learning news of the award. “I am humbled to have been given an opportunity to add my bit of assistance in this. And am thrilled with the outcome.”

While the building was gutted during the restoration process, great lengths were taken to preserve the heritage façade. The CAHP praised the project for the restoration of the original exterior stonework walls, roof, and historic wooden windows and doors.

“I remain so proud of the commitment from our Engineering alumni and friends to make Mitchell Hall and all the opportunities and programming within it happen,” said Dr. Kevin Deluzio, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science. “Over 90% of the philanthropic support for Mitchell Hall and its programming came from our Engineering alumni and friends. Thank you again for helping us build the future from the past.”

Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities) John Witjes, Sc’86, said balancing historical restoration with state-of-the-art design made Mitchell Hall a complex project, but donors and university administrators felt it was important to preserve the building’s history.

“It’s a great honour for Mitchell Hall to be recognized with this award,” Witjes said. “It is an impressive facility and a showpiece on campus. As a former Queen’s student having used the original PEC, I am proud to have been involved in and able to witness this amazing transformation.”

Witjes added that significant credit also goes to the hard work of several key partners including the project’s two main architectural firms, CS&P and Montgomery Sisam, and construction firm Ellis Don.

An earlier version of this article was published by Queen’s Alumni.