Duncan McArthur Building

511 Union Street, Kingston, ON.

Known today as Duncan McArthur Hall, the Faculty of Education building is associated with the professionalization of teaching in Ontario.  Following the Report of the Minister’s Committee on the Training of Secondary School Teachers (1962), the Ontario College of Education established Faculties of Education at Queen’s and the University of Western Ontario.

The building is dedicated to Duncan McArthur (1885-1943).  McArthur was an archivist, professor, public servant and finally Ontario’s Minister of Education from 1940 to 1943.

The purpose-built Faculty of Education was located north of the Kingston penitentiary, on Queen’s newly established, west campus in 1969.  The U-shaped footprint was set back from both streets, within a park-like setting, overlooking the historic jail and Lake Ontario.  As an inversion of the traditional academic quadrangle, the building features a series of arcades mainly lining the outward-facing, street elevations.  There are two designed landscapes, each with a site specific art installation: an entry forecourt at the south with a sunken garden and water feature, and a garden (named after Paul B. Park in 1994) within the court that faces north.

In spite of the considerable variety of facilities and activities within, the building achieves cohesiveness, in part from the uniformity of the façade treatments.  The building is characterized by rectilinear geometry, a uniform roofline, and two-storey volumes (finished in exposed aggregate concrete) above ground floor arcades.

The architecture of the Duncan McArthur Building was a departure from that of Queen’s main campus.  Through its planning, layout, materials, and detailing, the building expresses a modern, efficient, forward-looking approach to education.  Through its scale, arcades, intimate courts, thick walls and deeply set windows, it resonates with the historic collegiate buildings of the main campus.

The McArthur Building is a significant work of the Kingston firm of Drever Smith and Cromarty.  The building survives with considerable integrity.  The building and its landscape have been continuously associated with educational and research activities in the field of education at Queen’s University since the opening.