June 14, 2024

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CMLC unveils architectural design for Arts Commons Transformation expansion

3 min read

(Artist rendering courtesy of CMLC and Arts Commons)

After two years of planning and design work, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) and its partners at Arts Commons and the City of Calgary have revealed the architectural design for the Arts Commons Transformation expansion. The project will include a new building featuring a 1,000-seat theatre and 200-seat studio theatre, marking a significant step forward in the delivery of the largest arts-focused infrastructure project currently underway in Canada, said CMLC.

“The transformation of the Arts Commons campus is a more than half-billion-dollar investment in Calgary’s arts and cultural future,” stated Kate Thompson, president and CEO of CMLC, development manager for the expansion and modernization of the performing arts centre. “Together with our partners at the City of Calgary and Arts Commons, CMLC has been working with the prime design team since early 2022 to advance the concept and schematic designs for this extraordinary city-building project. Today we’re ecstatic to reach a monumental milestone: the public unveiling of the new building’s design.”

The design is the result of work by a team of internationally recognized architects and designers from Toronto’s KPMB Architects, Calgary’s Hindle Architects and Arizona’s Tawaw Architecture Collective.

“Through their collective experience, local knowledge and proven expertise in major arts and theatre projects, the team has delivered a truly inspiring design—a spectacular three-level building with 162,000 sq ft of modern features and amenities that will elevate Calgary’s growing arts community,” said Thompson.

“At the heart of the Arts Commons Transformation project is an intention to create a new performing arts space that is ‘of and for Calgary’– a place where everyone is welcome,” explained Kevin Bridgman, partner at KPMB, representing the prime design team. “This simple yet powerful idea inspired our design for a purpose-built facility that reflects the spirit of the community it serves, is thoughtfully connected to its history and culture, and is designed with respect for its surroundings.”

He explained that the building’s curved form, cladding and finishes took inspiration from Alberta’s dramatic landscapes and regional lodges.

“With a naturally lit, fully transparent ground floor, the design team placed importance on the southeast corner where a gathering circle with a skylight provides space that welcomes Calgarians and encourages visitors to come together and share stories,” said Bridgman.

The expansion will boost Arts Commons’ seating capacity by 45 per cent—space that CMLC and Arts Commons say is needed to meet demand for arts and culture in the city, as well as to facilitate the aspirations of its arts community.

“This city has never failed to impress me with its fearless hopes for the future. Today, we don’t just reveal a stunning new design—we come together to celebrate the fact that the largest cultural infrastructure project currently underway in Canada is truly and uniquely Calgarian,” said Arts Commons president and CEO Alex Sarian. “Today is a reminder of Calgary’s vision of a city that’s not only bold, but holds community and culture at its core.”

The $660M project includes the Arts Commons expansion and modernization, the transformation of Olympic Plaza, and a $50M Arts Commons endowment. The $270M expansion of Arts Commons is fully funded by the City of Calgary and CMLC’s Community Revitalization Levy. The modernization, which is still in design stages, has an anticipated project cost of $270M and will require additional funding prior to construction commencing. The adjacent Olympic Plaza Transformation is still in conceptual design and has an anticipated project cost of $70M, of which $40M is already committed through the city’s 2023-2026 budget for downtown revitalization.

Supported by project manager Colliers and construction manager EllisDon, construction on the expansion is anticipated to begin in late 2024, and the building is expected to open in Arts Commons’ 2028/2029 season.





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