A unique combination of performing arts venue, music museum, music education facility, and blues bar, the National Music Centre is a catalytic project in a redevelopment area of Calgary, Canada. The client required iconic architecture, a community destination, and a restoration of the historic King Edward bar.
Anchoring the project both physically and symbolically, the King Eddy is raised slightly to match its elevation and site-lines with the lobby on an adjacent site – both are wrapped in glass to create transparency between the two. Above, the building represents a giant bridge. Filling the bridge on every level, the many program areas are fused together.
Conceptually similar to a wood joint, where maximum surface-to-surface connection provides the greatest opportunity for cohesion, fusion and strength, the multi-layered connectivity of the bridge strengthens and enriches the community experience, a symbol and strength of the Cantos organization.
A central, canted atrium, called the Soundscape, aurally and visually connects all levels of the building, with operable vents that dissipate sound from the performing spaces into the atrium at the control of the facility operator. Like the inner architecture of a musical instrument, the Soundscape is wonderfully clad in wood and tunable.
The exterior is black, precast concrete panels with a flat finish to harness maximum heat during Calgary’s many cold months for the building’s energy systems. At a distance, the concept appears a monolith – a striking black volume with syncopated skin and a central shaft of light, suspending volumes on alternating sides. On the backdrop of a night sky, these volumes of activity appear suspended in space, hovering over the landscape like a musical beacon, begging the viewer to draw near. The skin’s playful perforations lend additional sparkle and mystery to its nocturnal presence.