Although the Yates Memorial Centre is still months from completion, Lethbridge residents came together Tuesday evening for an update on the extensive renovation work.
The 52-year-old building has been closed to the public for about six months now to make functional, mechanical and accessibility improvements.
“It’s a huge deal that we’re renovating and renewing this building, in every way,” Jason Freund with the City of Lethbridge said. “Everything is going to look different when you walk into the building, other than the actual building shape.
“Everything is going to look brand new, every thing is going to look great from the technical equipment to the seating, to the paint on the walls is going to be new. So it’s a very exciting project.”
The event featured both conceptual drawings and a 3D model to aid people in visualizing the final product.
One of the more anticipated areas under renovation is the Yates theatre. The renos include including new lights, a built-in projector and improved sight lines for the audience.
However, Allen Gibson, board member for the Playgoers of Lethbridge says the audience also has a lot to look forward to.
“I think the real excitement for the Yates reno is going to be for the audience. New equipment, new lights, new chairs, much nicer lobby, easier to access. It’s just really bringing it into the 21st century. ”
The original Yates structure was built in 1966, lacking many of the accessibility standards that are now routine in new buildings. Elaine Jagielsky, president of Playgoers of Lethbridge said this presented uncomfortable situations.
“There was even a situation years ago where we had the one act festival, the provincial one act festival at the Yates, and one of the directors – we had to take him up in the storage elevator to get to the green room for the post-activities.”
To make up for this downfall, the renovation will include two main elevators at the front of the structure, as well as a lift to accommodate all situations. The main foyer and the theatre will also gain barrier-free access.
The $13.4 million renovation isn’t set to be completed until December, but performances at the Yates are expected to resume by the end of July.
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