The National Music Centre finds a home in Calgary
National Music Centre
Of all the spaces in the city of Calgary, few are more iconic than the National Music Centre. The NMC is the gateway to the city’s East Village ― delicately unifying the past and future.
The stunning five-story building is equal parts museum, performance venue, classroom, and studio. The architecture's unique design stretches up and over the street, where two towers connect via a 60 foot-high thoroughfare. At the street level, musicians and guests can celebrate the reconstruction of the legendary King Edward Hotel (locally known as the King Eddy), which now serves as a venue and restaurant, while also offering spaces for artists in residence.
The NMC is the first facility of its kind in North America, and we wanted to set the bar high. This project is a shining example of how joining forces can create an exemplary final design.
We were brought into the project to support Allied Works Architecture that had finished planning much of the building's primary space and exterior. We were asked to contribute interior design, architecture, and project management services.
With much to consider ― from conceptualization to designing support spaces, to preserving history ― our team was chosen, not only because many of us are musicians, but also because of our reliable and collaborative approach to design.
Kasian took the lead on the restoration and rejuvenation of the King Edward ― originally established in 1905. With many concerns about the building’s interior and foundation, we closely engaged with the municipal government to attain necessary development permits and resolve sensitive issues with building-code discrepancies.
The integrity of the building’s exterior was another important challenge. Since both the outside and inside walls were to be covered in over 200,000 terra cotta tiles, we needed to ensure they could withstand the city’s harsh winters.
The vision our client and partners had was exceptionally unique from legal, technical, and practical perspectives. A steering committee of multiple stakeholders was tasked to lead the charge.
Our priority was to ensure we worked as collaboratively, smartly, and efficiently as possible to deliver a beautiful building for Calgary. We considered the client’s desired acoustics, angles, and dynamic uses to ensure the striking flow of the building design and its multiple elements could be expressed architecturally.
Since the project was collaborative, with multiple design teams at the table using multiple tools, we needed to ensure any technical drawing software was consistent across the board. Our team helped merge design plans together into one cohesive package.
President and CEO of National Music Centre
The design of the building is holistically inspired by Canada’s landscape and this is reflected throughout the exterior design. The curvature of the building is akin to Alberta’s rolling foothills, and the windows reflect the Rocky Mountains.
To ensure that we selected building tiles that could stand the test of time, we facilitated studies, worked with specialists, and ran tests to experiment on exposure to several harsh climates. Now, the showstopping tiles delicately curve around the walls, and the space between them allows sound to resonate throughout the building.
The restoration of the King Eddy required our team to carefully deconstruct the hotel brick-by-brick and rebuild its foundation. Then, like the classic story of 'Humpty Dumpty', we reassembled it with the original bricks and added some modern improvements.
The National Music Centre achieved a LEED Silver standard of design.
Some might argue a project of this magnitude ― one that celebrates Canadian music and is endorsed by the federal government ― would normally be in a larger city. But, Calgary was chosen to give musical artists a place to call home. And the NMC has raised the bar for the quality of architecture throughout the city.
The National Music Centre elevates the profile of Canadian music and has become a hub for musicians in Alberta, attracting new artists to its spaces to write, compose, record, and exhibit their work. At the same time, the architecture has become a dynamic contributor to the development of the city’s culture and community pride.
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