The Royal Conservatory, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning / KPMB Architects

© Eduard Hueber

The new TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning is the final phase in the Master Plan to build a new home for ’s premier music and arts educator, the Royal Conservatory. KPMB, under the direction of Marianne McKenna, has been working with the RCM to realize the vision set forth in the 1991 award winning Master Plan.

Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) Architects
Location: 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto, , Canada
Project Area: 190,000 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Eduard Hueber, Tom Arban

© Eduard Hueber

Academic Cultural Hybrid
The overall project involved the progressive restoration of McMaster Hall and the construction of a new TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning to create a unique hybrid of a teaching and rehearsal facility and destination concert venue with three major performance venues. The space between the historic and new building is enclosed to create a skylit pedestrian court linking the Bloor Street entrance to the Concert Hall and Lobby. The glass and steel structure of the new addition provides a dynamic counterpoint to the polychromatic facades of the heritage buildings.

© Tom Arban

Defining a New Cultural Precinct for Toronto
Urbanistically, the project occupies an important site in mid-town Toronto at the threshold of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus and integrates Philosopher’s Walk, a landscape pedestrian route that runs north and south linking Bloor Street to Hoskin Avenue. The design was strategically conceived to define a new cultural precinct for the City in concert with the transformation of the adjacent ROM and the expansion of the Gardiner Museum around the corner on Queen’s Park.

© Tom Arban

Respecting Heritage
Although the new additions are substantive in scale and size, the siting, massing and articulation is deferential to the 19th century heritage buildings on Bloor Street which have housed the RCM since 1962. The emphasis on transparency and contemporary building systems create a dynamic counterpoint to the polychromatic masonry walls when encountered from Philosopher’s Walk. KPMB was also involved in the restoration of the exterior heritage fabric and 240-seat Ettore Mazzoleni Hall.

© Tom Arban

Academic – Professional Conservatory
A key mandate was to maximize the capacity and flexibility for integrating new technology and adapting to changes and growth in programs. The new additions include 43 new teaching and practice studios, the renovation of Ihnatowycz Hall (1898) and a new 150-seat Conservatory Theatre, a rehearsal space designed to accommodate a range of functions, from special events to the Learning Through the Arts. In scale and proportion it replicates the acoustic quality and stage size of the main Koerner Concert Hall to prepare students for live performance.

© Tom Arban

Cultural Venue
In addition to Mazzoleni Hall and Conservatory Theatre, the project incorporates the 1,135-seat Michael and Sonja Koerner Concert Hall. Koerner Hall is the performance heart of the project, and will provide a premiere acoustical environment. Its undulating wood ‘veil’ integrated with the canopy above the stage define an iconic image for the RCM.

© Eduard Hueber

Overall, the TELUS Centre emphasizes the primacy of acoustics to directly support the RCM’s educational mission to nurture a creative society.

© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban

Project Team: Marianne McKenna, Design Partner; Robert Sims Associate-in-Charge; Dave Smythe Project Architect; Meika McCunn, Project Architect; Carolyn Lee, Frances Lago, Dan Benson, Krista Clark, Bill Colaco, George Friedman, Ramon Janer, Erik Jensen, David Jesson (2006-7), John Mestito, Gary Yen, Robin Ramcharan, Rita Kiriakis, Lexi Kolt-Wagner, Scott Pomeroy, Olga Pushkar (2006), Mark Simpson, Jimmy Sun, Deborah Wang, Chris Wegner, Norm Li, Clare Radford
Acousticians: Sound Space Design with Aercoustics Engineering Ltd
Theatre Consultant: Anne Minors Performance Consultants
Structural Engineer: Yolles, Barry Charnish
Electrical Engineer: Crossey
Mechanical Engineer: Merber
Landscape Architect: Janet Rosenberg & Associates
Cost: Turner & Townsend cm2r Inc.
Architectural Lighting: Martin Conboy Lighting Design
AV: Engineering Harmonics
Signage: Bhandari and Plater Inc.
Consulting Heritage Architect: Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd Architects

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "The Royal Conservatory, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning / KPMB Architects" 16 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • ARCILOOK Future Architecture

    Surprisingly, it fits in very well.

  • dr

    Wouldn’t it be great if KPMB stopped building everything in Toronto

  • derek

    nice to see KPMB giving credits to everyone involved in the project, regardless of how important or how little you contributed. Diamond and Schmitt on the other hand, likes to give all credits to the top 4 or 5 members of the project team even though there could be over a dozen others involved with the project.