Future-focused design revealed for Saint John’s old courthouse

October 13, 2022

Progress continues on the renovation and rehabilitation of the historic Saint John’s old courthouse in Saint John, New Brunswick. In January 2021, the public received a glimpse of the exterior design of the building and at the end of August, the interior of the building was unveiled for the first time.

“This is exciting progress for the old Sydney Street courthouse. The design reflects a deliberate balance of modern architecture, technical excellence and historical preservation,” said EXP’s Architect of Record Melissa Wakefield. “Working in close collaboration with Saint John Theatre Company (SJTC), our team was able to determine meaningful ways to reinvent the space to be a vehicle for performative expression, focusing on contemporary design elements combined with elements from neoclassical architecture. We’re very excited to see this project progressing as it is,” she continued.

The iconic courthouse was built in the 1820s and restructured in 1925. Since then, it has been recognized for its neoclassical-inspired design, freestanding circular stone staircase and interior detailing. Empty since 2013, the future-focused design displays 15,000 square feet of additional space, with added accessible features through moving the entrance to King Street, expansion of the courtroom into a performance space with a seating capacity of 220+ guests, a lobby café, a studio rehearsal and a performance venue. The design aims to deliver a state-of-the-art space that welcomes community members and performers alike.

The design of the building incorporates elements that focus on the health of the building, performers and community. EXP’s design merges the vision of preserving the building’s historic identity and eliminating an infrastructure gap in performance arts while harnessing safety, sustainability and artistic and performative opportunities for those who will utilize and enjoy the building.

The renovation and rehabilitation project is expected to begin in 2023.

Learn more about the project from the SJTC team and EXP Architect Melissa Wakefield in the video All Rise.

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