Part of the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium's attraction is due to its unique architectural design. Built as part of the eight million dollar University Centre complex designed by the Wade Williams Partnership of Victoria, the auditorium is the first "surround" hall built in Canada.
The prime objectives of the facility's design were to provide good acoustics and sightlines from all seats. These objectives were successfully met, evidenced by the auditorium's national reputation as an acoustic venue. The architectural design is enhanced by the interior's stunning wood lined stage and creative lighting.
From concerts to lectures and more, the Farquhar Auditorium offers rental opportunities which include technical, ticketing and front of house support.
The 12.2m x 16.8m (40' deep x 55' wide) oak stage has been stained, but not varnished, in order to help retain the acoustic purity of the hall. The stage may be accessed through the four swivel doors located stage right and left. There are also two swing door entrances located upstage right and left.
Backstage facilities include:
- men's and women's dressing rooms, equipped with make-up lights and mirrors, clothing racks, resort facilities and showers
- a green room complete with lounge seating, and coat racks
- a warm-up room with an upright piano, located on the balcony level
- full paging and program sound
- clear-com two way audio communication.
The auditorium was designed to reflect and project sound as cleanly as possible and with this consideration several features have been included in the Auditorium:
- thin vertical ridges finish the walls to reflect high frequency sound waves
- 21 adjustable wall banners, operated by remote control, absorb and dampen any 'loose' sound
- to enhance musical resonance, clusters of movable cedar baffles have been hung about the stage
- five sets of remote controlled acoustical curtains are housed in the ceiling trusses to improve sound quality
- to insulate the auditorium from outside noise, a buffer zone of moving air was created between the double walls of the auditorium and the roof
- all air ducts are lined with acoustical fibre to eliminate unwanted noise intrusion.
Hugh Ernest Farquhar (1910-1984) was educated at the Victoria Provincial Normal School, the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta. He taught in elementary and secondary schools, then at Victoria Normal School and Victoria College. In 1963 Dr. Farquhar became a professor in the Faculty of Education at the new University of Victoria.
After an early retirement he returned in 1971 as Dean of Education. In 1972 he accepted the Presidency. One of his greatest contributions was the planning and development of the University Centre and Farquhar Auditorium, which he envisioned as the hub of the University's student, administrative and cultural life.
The auditorium's doors first opened to the strains of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, performed by the University of Victoria School of Music Orchestra and Chorus, on September 28, 1978. Since that acclaimed performance, the auditorium's stage has been graced by numerous classical and contemporary artists, all attracted by its reputation as an intimate, versatile and acoustically pure hall.
Successful performances by artists such as Oscar Peterson, Yehudi Menuhin, Spirit of the West, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and B.B. King have proven to be unique and pleasurable experiences for both audiences and performers.