Centre for Music, Art and Design

Architect Patkau Architects / Lm Architectural Group

Location Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Centre for Music, Art and Design (CMAD) is an 8,900-square-metre interdisciplinary facility at the University of Manitoba. The Faculty of Architecture, the Schools of Fine Art and Music, and the integrated Architecture, Fine Art, and Music Library share the facility.

The project is located on the University of Manitoba campus, just south of Winnipeg on the Red River. A network of tunnels complements pedestrian circulation on grade, providing pedestrian access between buildings during the extreme winter. The campus therefore has dual urban conditions, one at grade, and the other below grade.

The building is sited to create a new interdisciplinary arts precinct. A disengaged collection of buildings is connected by the new facility to form an Arts Courtyard, defined on three sides by buildings, and on the fourth by a proposed pedestrian passageway. CMAD acts as the new public face of this precinct, strategically placing the facility on campus.

CMAD interconnects with the campus infrastructure as much as possible. Entrances at grade are located strategically to connect to existing pedestrian routes. Below grade, circulation is organized so as to significantly extend the campus tunnel network, providing a link between the network, recreation facilities, and the existing School of Music, and which also allows for the possibility of future linkages. The variety of direct connections to neighbouring buildings on, above, and below grade permit the building to become highly integrated with the existing facilities, supporting informal social interaction between disciplines, increasing ease of sharing facilities, and providing the potential for large-scale public events.

The functional program was reconceived so that it would meet interdisciplinary objectives and program requirements within available resources. Instead of a one:one correspondence between program requirements and spaces, a many:many correspondence was proposed. The concept of Six Big Rooms was developed that would accommodate varied program activities. By virtue of being shared and multi-use, the Big Rooms facilitate opportunities for interaction between disciplines. Accompanying the Big Rooms are the support spaces necessary to meet exacting technical requirements.

As an antipode to the intensely programmed Six Big Rooms, the reconceived program allocates space to no program at all, Mix Space, to support the unexpected: the serendipitous interaction essential to interdisciplinary learning and research. To foster the interdisciplinary within CMAD, the Six Big Rooms and Mix Space are located within a spatial construct that multiplies possibilities for interconnection and overlap. The spaces are distributed over four levels, non-hierarchically, so that they can function both individually and as part of larger collectives. Relationships in plan and section create a vibrant, urban interior that is richly (and sometimes unexpectedly) illuminated with natural light.

Exhibition, the most public of the Six Big Rooms, is located on the ground floor adjacent to traditional public thoroughfares. Library is located on the upper two levels, where it is best able to benefit from access to daylight. Production, Practice, Workshop, and Studio are all located below grade on the tunnel level, as a working group, where they can complement each other and connect to facilities in neighbouring buildings through the campus tunnel network. An excavated courtyard on the west side of the building gives public presence (as well as natural light) to the Big Rooms and Mix Space on the tunnel level.

Programs are cut across in section to facilitate a diversity of spatial connectors. The upper two floors act together to form Library. The container of the major collections sits above the main reading spaces. A stepped reading terrace drops into Mix Space below. Views up to the terrace connect visually without apparent access. A small theatre-like space overlooks Exhibition at the entrance to Library above. Crevice-like apertures allow unexpected views to Production. Transparency at grade connects Mix Space with the campus. Practice is characterized by large openings above to Mix Space and the exterior. Workshop and Studio are visible from Mix Space through glazed display cabinets and across the excavated courtyard.

Ouellette: The integration of demanding programmatic requirements with non-traditional plan and sectional strategies makes this scheme an innovative solution for an Arts Centre. The Patkaus’ deft ability to create elaborate spatial configurations animates this building without making it appear self-conscious. Simplifying the external, landscape-related forms further complements the complex spatial experiences found within.

Provencher: This project proposes a strong connection between the existing buildings, and provides an excellent solution resulting in a number of interconnected multi-use spaces. As stated by the architects, the relationships in the plan and section create the potential for a vibrant urban interior that is richly illuminated with natural light. The lower courtyard supports the Six Big Rooms concept, and the sections of this building offer a subtle three-dimensional visual and experiential condition.

Taylor: An apparently simple building at first glance, the subtle undulation and articulation of the exterior skin defines a dynamic sequence of interior and exterior spaces. The simple move of depressing the site to create an exterior courtyard is an elegant intervention that reinforces the richness of the interior section.

Client University of Manitoba

Architect Team Greg Boothroyd, Hector Lo, John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, Martin Sigmund, Jim Orlikow

Structural Crosier Kilgour & Partners

Mechanical Sms Engineering

Electrical Mcw/Age Consulting Professional Engineers

Landscape Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram Landscape Architecture and Planning

Interiors Patkau Architects / Lm Architectural Group

Area 8,900 M2

Budget Withheld