Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Allied Works Architecture (AWA) was awarded the commission for the design of the National Music Centre’s (NMC) new home, Studio Bell, in 2009, following an international design competition and search. Completed in October 2016, the building is the first facility of its kind in North America—at once a performance hall, recording facility, broadcast studio, live music venue and museum—and Allied Works’ most ambitious project to date. The state-of-the-art cultural center features interactive exhibition, education, and performance spaces, and incorporates and revitalizes the neighboring historic 1905 King Edward Hotel, the former home to the legendary blues club.
Rising in nine interlocking towers, clad in custom-glazed terra cotta tile, Studio Bell references acoustic vessels in its subtly curved design. The building is comprised of two main structural systems—the first forms the interlocking arches that span the lobby on the ground level, the second suspends the primary performance space and bridges the building’s towers from above. Walkways and stairs unite the two systems throughout Studio Bell’s five stories, where an interplay of glazed tile reflects and amplifies light and sound.
Visitors are welcomed into Studio Bell through a central lobby that opens upward through the building’s five levels. Two helical staircases on the north and the south flank the lobby and fill the interstitial space between the towers. The main performance hall overlooks the lobby, and serves as the building’s programmatic and structural center. With flexible seating and a movable acoustic wall, the performance hall can be closed for more intimate performances or opened fully to the lobby and circulation spaces to fill the entire building with music.
Exhibition galleries or “stages” are spread across Studio Bell’s five floors, showcasing highlights from NMC’s collection. Each stage is envisioned as a place for interaction, appreciation and performance, where Canada’s music story—past, present and future—can be further explored. Between each is a pause of space that allows the visitor to reflect and reconnect to the building and prepare for the next encounter. Sweeping views of Stampede Park and the Bow River throughout the building allow visitors to connect back to the surrounding city and landscape.