National Music Centre Unveiled, Acclaimed

Final plans have been unveiled for The National Music Centre (NMC), an East Village landmark to be built around the fabled King Edward Hotel.

The building’s 135,000 square feet of space will both liberate and contain music – and reinvent the notion of a cultural institution. It’ll be a combination entertainment venue, performance hall, recording studio, radio station, musical classroom, and home to The Canadian Music Hall of Fame. “It’s a building type that doesn’t exist yet,” says NMC architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture of Portland.

The presentation, at The Uptown Stage and Screen, provided Cloepfil with a theatrical ambiance that mixed new and old and suited the NMC, which is combining a Calgary icon with eye-popping modern architecture. “The Alberta will to build that exists all over this province provided the apple seed,” said NMC President and CEO Andrew Mosker of the ambitious project. Check it out here

That apple seed will grow into buildings with elliptical archways that mimic both the holes in organ pipes and the hoodoos of the Alberta landscape, giving the centre an open feel and sound. “We want to allow music to go up through the cracks and crevices,” Cloepfil says. Interstitial spaces will be silent, cleansing visitors’ aural palates as they move from room to room. Five stories of performance and display spaces on either side of 4th Street will be connected by a pedestrian walkway with spectacular views to the Bow River and Stampede Park. Nine or 10 apartments for resident musicians and an experimental gallery are also part of the concept and the top floor will boast a large, circular orientation gallery.

Spaces are flexible and multi-functional: a 300-seat formal auditorium can be closed off at will, and acoustics can be as tightly controlled as the humidity in the NMC’s display cases. (The star of the displays will be an eclectic instrument collection that Mosker’s Cantos Music Society has been accumulating for years. Check it out here

A palpable buzz filled the Uptown lobby post-presentation as guests enjoyed cocktails, appetizers and the dual synthesizer stylings of Circa 1971. Audience member and architecture student John Ferguson said, “I love the design. It’s one of Calgary's first world-class architectural developments.”

“You can feel the support in the air,” said a happy Mosker, surveying the crowd. That support is becoming ever more tangible, certainly more structurally sound, and now, more beautiful and innovative than anyone would have imagined.