October 2, 2017
by Canadian Architect
MacEwan University’s new Allard Hall is one of the continent’s most advanced facilities for fine arts and communications education and the public presentation of creative works. The building, with a construction cost of $143 million, opened on September 27th.
“Allard Hall is more than just theatres, studios and classrooms,” says the building’s principal designer, Venelin Kokalov of Bing Thom Architects. “Our design is dedicated towards shaping spaces for true creative dialogue between students, their artist-instructors and the general public.”
Clad in prisms of high performance black glass set with colourful highlights on its exterior, the most dramatic features of Allard Hall are actually inside. In addition to the 419-seat Triffo Theatre, the 215-seat Betty Andrews Recital Hall, the John and Maggie Mitchell Galley and visual arts and music studios, the standout design feature linking all these is its sky-lit atrium, which will also serve as an informal performance space. This bold and bright space is crossed by bridges and stairs that connect the informal lounges the designers have labelled “nests” that are “woven” into the building’s circulation patterns.
According to Kokalov, “The nests are places for the birth of ideas and zones to nurture cultural connection. Most architects would have hidden away the fire stairs, but instead we made the nests, bridges and angled stairs the heart of our layouts.”
The new facility on 104 Avenue at 111th Street brings MacEwan’s fine and performing arts programs downtown, making their innovative programming much more accessible to Edmontonians.