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National Music Centre under way in Calgary

In Calgary's East Village, construction of the new National Music Centre broke ground early this year. The bold structure sits on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue and Fourth Street S.E. opposite the Stampede Grounds. The complex consists of...


National Music Centre, Calgary. Image courtesy NMC.
National Music Centre, Calgary. Image courtesy NMC.

In Calgary’s East Village, construction of the new National Music Centre broke ground early this year. The bold structure sits on the northeast corner of 9th Avenue and Fourth Street S.E. opposite the Stampede Grounds. The complex consists of massive blocks or “towers” linked across by a deep  bridge structure. Nestled below the bridge is the 100-year old “King Eddy” hotel. The landmark was once Calgary’s “home of the blues” during the 1970s and 80s but had fallen into disrepair.

The 160,000-sq.ft. centre will incorporate a 300-seat adaptable performance space, as well as recording studios, education areas, and exhibition space for 2,000 artifacts. The exhibits include the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Collection as well as musical instruments and recording equipment. One of the displays is the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio.

An international architectural competition was held for the project in 2009. Allied Works Architecture of Oregon were chosen as the architects, with Kasian as the local architect responsible for the construction administration phase.

Structural engineering is by Read Jones Christoffersen, mechanical engineering is by Stantec, and electrical engineering is by SMP. The construction manager is Cana.

The project broke ground in February and is expected to be completed in 2015 at a cost of $135 million.

According to Allied Works’ website: “The NMC is an entirely new cultural institution dedicated to the music of Canada in all of its forms. It is at once museum, performance hall, interactive music education center, recording studio and broadcast center.

“The building is a gathering of resonant vessels that hold the many diverse programs, spaces and experiences of the National Music Centre. Nine towers form the body of the building; the vessel walls, clad in terra cotta, rise in subtle curves that merge, part and intertwine, modeled by light, gravity and acoustics. Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, education and collections spaces. The apertures at each gallery create a threshold of sound, introducing the content and programs of the particular exhibition. The spaces between are filled with silence and ambient light; views between the towers frame the city and landscape beyond. Bridging across the street and back again, the building creates a gateway for the new quarter, uniting the artists’ residences, recording studios, the historic hotel and club with the new presentation spaces.”