Contemporary Calgary opens doors following CA$25m transformation

by Lauren Heath-Jones | 30 Jan 2020
The building is weird and wacky and wonderful, it makes it all the more exciting to turn it into something else.
– David Leinster, CEO of Contemporary Calgary

Calgary's Centennial Planetarium has reopened as a contemporary art gallery following a major CA$25m (US$18.9m, €17.2m) renovation carried out by the City of Calgary and Lemay + Toker.

Called Contemporary Calgary, the planetarium – which is known for its brutalist architecture and imposing concrete dome – had been vacant since 2011, following the opening of Calgary's TELUS Spark Science Centre. It was put out for expression of interest by the city of Calgary in 2013 when private donations and grants from both local and federal governments made its transformation into an art gallery possible.

Among the work completed so far has been the renovation of the Flanagan Family Gallery by KMPB Architects.

Future renovations include a new 10,000sq ft (929sq m) gallery, another 3,000sq ft (278sq m) gallery, a rooftop sculpture garden and event space, as well as a new entrance pavilion, café-style restaurant and open community spaces.

"When the city put this building out for an expression of interest in 2013, three longstanding arts organisations in the city of Calgary came together with one shared vision which was 'Let's bring a major contemporary art experience to the city of Calgary'," said Contemporary Calgary CEO, David Leinster.

"Because the building is kind of weird and wacky and wonderful, makes it all the more exciting to turn it into something else."

Bruce Kuwabara, partner at KPMB and design-lead on the project, said: "The re-imagination of the Centennial Planetarium – an icon of optimism – into a dynamic, game-changing cultural hub, is an ideal project of architecture in our time."

The gallery opened to the public on 23 January 2020 and will house a series of travelling exhibitions, including Yoko Ono's Growing Freedom: The instructions of Yoko Ono and The art of John and Yoko, in place of fixed collections, and is currently hosting Luke Jerram's Museum of the Moon exhibit – a scale model of the Moon suspended from the top of the dome.

Centennial Planetarium  Contemporary Calgary  art gallery  planetarium  Gibbs Gage Architect  KPMB Architects  David Leinster  Bruce Kuwabara 
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Calgary's Centennial Planetarium has reopened as a contemporary art gallery following a major CA$25m (US$18.9m, €17.2m) renovation carried out by the City of Calgary and Lemay + Toker. Called Contemporary Calgary, the planetarium – which is known for its brutalist architecture and imposing concrete dome – had been vacant since 2011, following the opening of Calgary's TELUS Spark Science Centre. It was put out for expression of interest by the
CLD,HAM,AAC,ARC
10,000sq ft (930sq ft) of gallery space was added to the building / Gibbs Gage Architects / KPMB Architects
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