National Music Centre breaks ground in Calgary

The National Music Centre (NMC) recently broke ground on its new 160,000-square-foot building in downtown Calgary’s East Village. The Centre will be home to the history of music in Canada, including the country’s most impressive collection of musical instruments and sound equipment, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Collection. It will also include performance spaces, recording studios, broadcast facilities, the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio, and artist-in-residence programs.

Portland and New York-based Allied Works Architecture was selected to design the Centre following an international competition in 2009. The NMC is an entirely new cultural institution dedicated to the music of Canada in all of its forms. Sited opposite the Stampede Grounds in Calgary’s historic East Village, the new NMC, along with the restored King Eddy Hotel, will catalyze the future redevelopment of the district.

Under the direction of Allied Works principal Brad Cloepfil, the new NMC will resonate with expanded programming including education, performance, entertainment, recording, artist incubation and community building collaborations – both in Calgary and across the country. An expanded National Music Collection will be showcased in exhibitions designed by the internationally renowned firm Haley Sharpe Design.

The building is a gathering of resonant vessels that hold the many diverse programs, spaces and experiences of the National Music Centre. Nine towers form the body of the building; the vessel walls, clad in terra cotta, rise in subtle curves that merge, part and intertwine, modelled by light, gravity and acoustics. Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, education and collections spaces. 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 and ambient light; views between the towers frame the city and landscape beyond. Bridging across the street and back again, the building creates a gateway for the new quarter, uniting the artists’ residences, recording studios, the historic hotel and club with the new presentation spaces.

The campaign total for the National Music Centre is $150 million: $135 million for the building project and $15 million for related development and programming costs. Three levels of government have committed a total of $75 million. The Government of Canada is finalizing a contribution agreement with the National Music Centre and will contribute up to one-third of total eligible costs, to a maximum of $25 million towards this project through the Building Canada Fund – Major Infrastructure Component. The Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary have also each committed up to $25 million. To date NMC has raised an additional $22 million, for a total of $97 million. NMC is raising the remaining funds with support from the private sector and philanthropic organizations across Canada.

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