Music centre design unveiled for King Eddy site

An innovative design based on Western Canada's canyons and mountains has been chosen for a music centre that will anchor the revitalization of Calgary's East Village.
Artist's rendering of the Cantos Music Foundation's new centre in Calgary, which will feature a concert venue and recording studios. ((Cantos Music Foundation))

An innovative design based on Western Canada's canyons and mountains has been chosen for the Cantos Music Foundation's new national centre in Calgary.

The winning design by Allied Works Architecture, based in Oregon, incorporates the historic King Edward hotel while adding short towers "that hold the specific potential of a rich musical experience."

The five-storey music centre slated for the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Fourth Street S.E. will cover 80,000 square feet and house:

  • A live music venue.
  • Recording studios.
  • Radio station.
  • Research and education centre.
  • Museum.
  • A collection of instruments and memorabilia.

"It's a building for Calgary and Canada. It's a building about music to house collections and programs but it has a meaning for each of the visitors that come in there," said Andrew Mosker, executive director of the Cantos Music Foundation.

Artist's rendering of the interior of the proposed music centre in Calgary's East Village. ((Cantos Music Foundation))

The total cost of the project is $75 million — of which organizers have only secured a small portion. But Mosker is confident that "strong support" from three levels of government will soon translate into a financial commitment within the next six months and that construction can begin by next year.

The music centre is a major part of the revitalization of Calgary's East Village.

"I think it's actually a very good fit," said Chris Ollenberger, president and CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corp., the city-owned agency overseeing the revitalization.

"We'd always seen Eighth Avenue, the cul de sac where the St. Louis Hotel and the King Eddy are located, as kind of a cultural hub where you could see a lot of activity — a lot of different types of people from all walks of life getting together and enjoying various things."

The new centre will see the rebirth of the 104-year-old King Eddy hotel, which has sat empty since 2004, as a live music venue.

"There was absolutely no question from the start we needed to save it but even more, I wanted to retain some of that gritty — you know I want it to feel like itself, not like it's part of some new thing," said Allied Works founder Brad Cloepfil.

Artist's rendering of the national music centre at night. ((Cantos Music Foundation))

The King Eddy portion of the centre could be ready as early as the summer of 2012, with the rest of the centre to take about four years to complete.

Mosker said the selection committee  wanted a design that was "bold" and "innovative" that captured the heart and soul of the non-profit group.

The Allied Work's original proposal described the building as reflecting "the iconic landscapes of Canada: evoking the canyons and mountains of the West, the silence of the Prairies and the energy and diversity of urban space."

Other projects by Allied Works Architecture

  • Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis.
  • Addition to the Seattle Art Museum.
  • Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas.
  • Expansion of the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

The Allied Works design beat out four other proposals by architects from Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and Paris.

The Portland company has designed fine arts buildings across North America, including the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan, but this project is one of the firm's biggest.

"It's an amazing project and I was talking to folks the other day in New York and I think it could well be the most important project in North America this year," said Cloepfil.

Allied Works will be working with Calgary architectural firm BKDI.