ImprovLab rendering designed by Diamond-Schmitt Architects ImprovLab

We’re Getting a Lab!

And it will be a brand-new space that we’re calling The ImprovLab.  Designed by Diamond-Schmitt Architects with experimentation in mind, the ImprovLab will be our Institute’s research and performance facility that will be built in conjunction with a major College of Arts renovation of the performing arts wing of the MacKinnon Building at the heart of the University of Guelph. The new facilities will cultivate collaboration and interdisciplinary research as it welcomes and inspires the next generation of performances and audiences.

From May 2019 through the fall of 2020, renovations will take place across approximately 45,000 square feet in the north wing of the MacKinnon Building. Key to the project is the construction of ImprovLab, a new addition supported in part by core funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Other improvements to the north wing include the addition of an elevator and a new main entrance, the creation of student spaces and new practice rooms, the reconfiguration and return of the Luscombe Theatre to a black‑box performance space, and the reworking of existing spaces, including the Goldschmidt Room, with acoustic and aesthetic enhancements. 

ImprovLab rendering designed by Diamond-Schmitt Architects

ImprovLab rendering with floor plan inset – by Diamond-Schmitt Architects

Optimized for acoustical integrity in various spatial configurations, the ImprovLab will offer flexibility in set up, ranging from a controlled black‑box environment to an airy space that engages visually with the tree‑filled green to the south. The ImprovLab will feature state‑of‑the‑art technical infrastructure for audience and performance research. The new space will include a green room for working with small groups and three private labs for research and analysis. 

ImprovLab rendering designed by Diamond-Schmitt Architects

ImprovLab rendering by Diamond-Schmitt Architects

ImprovLab will provide a fully accessible and adaptable environment in which researchers can collaborate with each other, the university population, and the broader community. Designed for the presentation, broadcast, archiving, and analysis of improvised performance and audience reception studies, it offers a wide range of possibilities for audience seating and research participation. ImprovLab will transform the University’s performing arts facilities and renowned research program in improvisation studies, creating a world‑class facility that will enable scholars to advance leading‑edge research on the impacts of improvisatory practices.

Located at the heart of campus, the MacKinnon Building is a classic example of Brutalist architecture. Designed by Josep Lluis Sert and constructed in 1967, it marked the transformation of the campus into a comprehensive university as the first new building in the university’s master plan.   The award-winning group, Diamond Schmitt Architects have created a design that harmonizes with both the MacKinnon Building and the natural environment.