- Design Team: William Murray, Jordan Levin, Sonya Lester, Kevin O’Brien, Scott Parker
- Clients: Mount Royal University
- Theater: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
- Audio/Visual: Multi-Media Consulting, Inc.
- Collaborator: Shuri + Partners Architecture Inc.
- Audio / Visual: Multi-Media Consulting, Inc.
- City: Calgary
- Country: Canada
Text description provided by the architects. Mount Royal University’s Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts is a welcoming and dynamic environment for both music performance and education. In use by the Mount Royal Conservatory, established in Calgary in 1910, the facility was designed to provide music education for the entire university and community at large, including students from age 3 to adulthood, and also to express connection to place and the direct correlation between the learning and performance of music. The design expresses the unique geography and history of Calgary, located at the heart of Alberta, where the western prairies meet the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The area’s iconic imagery includes the lone barn on the vast open prairie landscape; the teepees of the region’s aboriginal inhabitants—the Scarce and the Stony peoples; and the Alberta rose, which blooms wild and is the province’s official floral emblem. These elements inspired and informed the design process, beginning with the structure and form-making to the deliberate lighting, colors and finish material selections.
The 800-seat concert hall—the “barn”is the central and dominant volume around which all the other teaching, practice and performance spaces are organized. The massing of the building is meant to draw associations to the tectonic forces that created the Rocky Mountains, while the main form of the concert hall, cladded in copper-finish corrugated metal panels, rises above the lower forms –metaphorically alluding to the singular barn in the landscape. In a more practical sense, the twisting and orientation of the massing draws attention to the main entry and addresses the site’s corner as a campus gateway. The desire to maximize sunlight in the public and instructional spaces—especially given its long winters—led to the decision to create large expanses of glass and skylights. The interior spaces continue the conceptual intent, linking the inside and outside of the building. The resulting functional, practical, and smart interior spaces were conceived not only in response to programmatic needs, but with intent to inspire and enrich the experience of users and patrons.
From the exterior the facility’s composition echoes the contours of the mountain range. Inside the main concert hall, the expressed steel structure references the profile of the region’s prairie barns; acoustically absorptive woven wire mesh panels drape the Concert Hall walls, reiterating the shapes of teepees; the shape of the balcony fasciae mimic glacial ledges; and the abstracted image of the Alberta rose is the crowning feature in the design of the acoustical canopy. The balanced play of geometric against organic forms, and the rich, warm finish pallet foster a sense of intimacy for the performers and audience alike. The Taylor Centre’s Bella Concert Hall offers the Calgary arts community a mid-sized performance venue and various other spaces for public and private events.Contextual with the campus yet unique, the highly transparent Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts has become a national magnet for the musical arts and a fitting icon for the campus.