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Canadian music hub by Allied Works Architects 'an immersion of structure and sound'

Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, exhibit, and collections spaces
– Brad Cloepfil

A giant international hub for music and sound technology has opened in Calgary, Canada to house the country’s National Music Centre (NMC).

Studio Bell, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, is a vast street-crossing construction located in Calgary’s East Village.

The 160,000sq ft (15,000sq m) building rises in nine interlocking towers clad in glazed terra cotta. It includes five floors of exhibition space showcasing over 2,000 artefacts and musical instruments intended to educate and inspire visitors about Canadian music.

Other features include recording facilities, workshops, classrooms, event spaces, a Canadian Music Hall of Fame and a 300-seat performance hall with movable acoustic walls. The latter overlooks the lobby from the second floor and serves as the building’s programmatic and structural centre.

To the west of the structure, a skybridge spans like a gateway over Calgary’s 4th Avenue and connects the building with the existing King Edward Hotel – one of the birthplaces of jazz in the city.

Each of Studio Bell’s exhibition spaces is designed to produce an experience more aligned with a music festival than a traditional museum. Galleries are envisioned as spaces for performance, where music is heard and experienced, and each can be customised to suit the needs of its specific collection.

“Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, exhibit, and collections spaces,” said Cloepfil. “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, with views that frame the city and landscape beyond.”

The architect described the design as “an immersion in sound and structure” that acts as an instrument in its own right, with a form that merges, parts and intertwines in the same way as “light, gravity and acoustics.”

NMC President and CEO Andrew Mosker said: “The design for Studio Bell has been a truly collaborative process, and it has been thrilling to see our vision come to life. The NMC will become one of Canada’s most significant national institutions, inspiring new generations of musicians and music lovers and catalysing the redevelopment Calgary’s East Village as a core urban district.”

Construction on the CAN$191m (US$145m, €131m, £112m) project began in 2013, with Haley Sharpe Design, Kasian Architecture and CANA Construction also involved. The NMC has raised over CAN$130m (US$98.7m, €89m, £76m) through a capital funding campaign.

Allied Works  Studio Bell  Calgary  Canada  National Music Centre  architecture  design 
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A giant international hub for music and sound technology has opened in Calgary, Canada to house the country’s National Music Centre (NMC). Studio Bell, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, is a vast street-crossing construction located in Calgary’s East Village. The 160,000sq ft (15,000sq m) building rises in nine interlocking towers clad in glazed terra cotta. It includes five floors of exhibition space showcasing over 2,000 artefacts and
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The 160,000sq ft (15,000sq m) building, which crosses Calgary's 4th Avenue, is clad in glazed terra cotta / Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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