Looming over 4th Avenue in Calgary‘s East Village is the new home for the National Music Centre (NMC). Known as “Studio Bell” and designed by Brad Cloepfil of Portland and New York-based firm Allied Works Architecture, the 160,000 square foot structure comprises two volumes connected by a skybridge.

Clad in terra-cotta, the building appears to shelter the historic King Edward Hotel, a venue renowned for its jazz scene. As for Studio Bell’s programming, five levels are dedicated to exhibition space, displaying more than 2,000 objects of musical memorabilia and significance meant to inform and inspire visitors. Here, emphasis will placed on Canadian music.

In addition to this, recording, teaching, and event spaces, along with galleries, will be available for workshops and other programming. The galleries will be adaptable, doubling-up as low-key performance venues while alterable for the needs of exhibitions. A Canadian Music Hall of Fame can serve as a performance hall for an an audience of 300 people. The centerpiece of the building, the hall offers mobile acoustic walling and overlooks the lobby.

“They turn their heads; they’ve never seen a building like this in Calgary and I think a lot of people never expected such a building to ever be built in Calgary,” said NMC president and CEO Andrew Mosker.

“We invented an institution,” said Brad Cloepfil. “[Mosker] had a dream of an institution that was more than a museum, kind of more than everything. A kind of music institution that doesn’t exist—education, performance, everything.”


National Music Centre

(Courtesy Leblond Studio)

“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,” Cloepfil added. “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.”

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