National Music Centre of Canada | Allied Works Architecture

• June 25, 2011

It was important to us to respect the King Eddy, while reclamation and restoration is certainly necessary, we didn’t want to scrub it too clean. We don’t want to scare the ghosts away.

Brad Cloepfil, founder of Allied Works Architecture

Allied Works was selected to design the National Music Centre of Canada following an international competition in 2009. The NMC is an entirely new cultural institution dedicated to the music of Canada in all of its forms. It is at once museum, performance hall, interactive music education center, recording studio and broadcast center. Sited opposite the Stampede Grounds in the East Village area of Calgary, the new NMC along with the restored King Eddy Hotel is intended to catalyze the future development of the district.

National Music Centre ALLIED WORKS pM Aerial 600x448 National Music Centre of Canada | Allied Works Architecture

National Music Centre, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

The National Music Center is a gathering of resonant vessels that stand as sentinels to the East Village of Calgary. The building is a silent and powerful instrument that exists to emanate music and light. Nine towers form the body of the building; the concrete walls rise in subtle curves that merge, part and intertwine, modeled by light, gravity and acoustics.

National Music Centre ALLIED WORKS pM King Eddy View 600x366 National Music Centre of Canada | Allied Works Architecture

National Music Centre, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, education and collections spaces. The apertures at each gallery create a threshold of sound, introducing the content and programs of the particular exhibition. The spaces between are filled with silence, with views that frame the city and landscape beyond. Bridging across the street and back again, the building creates a gateway for the new quarter, uniting the artists residences, club and recording studios with the new presentation spaces.

National Music Centre ALLIED WORKS pM Lobby 600x337 National Music Centre of Canada | Allied Works Architecture

National Music Centre, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

The building binds audience and performer, student and teacher, the body and the collection. It is an immersion in sound and structure, a continuously enfolding space that creates a perpetual between.

National Music Centre ALLIED WORKS pM Orientation Gallery 600x337 National Music Centre of Canada | Allied Works Architecture

National Music Centre, render courtesy Allied Works Architecture

+ Project credits / data

Projected Opening Date: 2014

Location: The National Music Centre straddles 4th Street SE at 9th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The NMC will be situated in the heart of Calgary’s East Village, which has long term development plans to transform into a major cultural and music district.

Permanent Collection:

The collection includes the acquisition of several prominent and important

collections within Canada, including:

  • The Canadian Music Hall of Fame Collection
  • The Canadian County Museum Hall of Fame Collection
  • The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
  • Items that reflext the musical diversity of the regions of Canada (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, the West, the North)


The National Music Centre will house innovative and unique interpretative programs and collections. Part education research centre, part museum, part recording studio, part live music venue, the facility will include new gallery spaces for innovative public programs for people of all ages to explore, learn, perform, research, collaborate, and rehearse music of all kinds.ons in the

Building Size

135,000 square feet, including 20,500 square feet of collection galleries and 2,500 square feet of visiting and temporary galleries

Special Features

  • collection and temporary exhibition galleries
  • 300-seat performance space
  • radio broadcast studio
  • recording and rehearsal studios
  • artist-in-residence studios
  • two musical instrument workshops
  • two educational classrooms
  • library / resource room
  • administrative offices and spaces
  • collection storage
  • roof terraces with city views
  • cafe and gift shop

Building Materials:

Exterior: cladding TBD, curtain wall and skylight glazing, metal canopies and entrances, existing King Eddy brick facade with new wood windows and doors

Interior: cast-in-place architectural concrete walls, cladding, stone and wood flooring, acoustical plaster, acoustical wood work in 300-seat performance space


Allied Works Architecture |
Portland, Oregon and New York City

Brad Cloepfil, Lead Designer
Kyle Lommen, Principal-in-Charge
Chelsea Grassinger, Project Architect
Daniel Richmond, Project Architect
Thea von Geldern, Project Designer
Kyle Caldwell, Project Designer
Brent Linden, Project Designer
Emily Kappes, Project Designer
Keith Alnwick, Project Designer

In collaboration with GEC Architecture
Calgary, Alberta

Martin Jones, Project Architect
Andrew Tankard
Erica Lowe
Rob Wenarchuk
David Minke
Caroline Elliot
Natalie Weiss
Nicole Sagan

Project Funding: $75 million of the total $132.5 million project cost ($110.5 million of which is building cost) has been committed by the City of Calgary, the Province of Alberta and the Government of Canada.

NMC Leadership:

Andrew Mosker, President & CEO
Ian Menzies, Director of Programming
Jeni Piepgrass, Campaign Director
Roger C. Jackson, Chair, Board of Directors
Desiree Bombenon, Co-Chair, Capital Campaign Cabinet

Michael Shaw, Co-Chair, Capital Campaign Cabinet

+ About Allied Works Architecture (Founded 1994)

Allied Works Architecture is a 40-person practice led by Brad Cloepfil from offices in Portland, Oregon and New York City. The practice works to discover and distill the elemental principles that drive each building project. It is this essence, revealed in the architecture which resonates within a culture, creating new experience and understanding which endures through time.

The defining project of Allied Works is the Maryhill Overlook in the Columbia River Gorge, completed in 1998, the first of a series of five installation designs in diverse landscapes across the Pacific Northwest. It was followed by the design for Wieden + Kennedy Agency, the radical transformation of an historic warehouse in Portland’s Pearl District into a world headquarters that has become a benchmark for adaptive reuse and workplace architecture. In recent years the practice has gone on to complete a number of critically acclaimed projects, including the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; the re-design of 2 Columbus Circle for the Museum of Arts and Design; Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; and a new 155,000 sf feature animation studio for in Emeryville, California.

Current commissions include the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado; the National Music Centre of Canada; a private residence with a major installation by artist Doug Aitken located on 350 acres in Stanfordville, New York; the design of the East River Walk in New York City; a masterplan and new studio building for the Pacific Northwest College of Art; and the Vancouver Community Connector, a major civic space and structure, in Vancouver, Washington.

In 2010 leading architecture critic and historian Sandy Isenstadt defined Cloepfil’s work as “aiming to create oases of legibility, spaces that can look out upon the simultaneous contrasts of the modern world to appreciate them from a place no less complex, but one that unfolds over time, with repeated visits, rather than at the speed of a camera shutter, thereby rewarding continued occupation rather than just dazzling the eye.”

+ About Brad Cloepfil (Born in 1956)

Brad Cloepfil studied architecture at the University of Oregon and went on to earn an advanced degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. After more than a decade of work and teaching in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Switzerland, Cloepfil founded Allied Works Architecture in his native Portland, Oregon in 1994. The New York City office followed in 2003.

Cloepfil’s earliest influences lay outside the field of architecture. While studying at the University of Oregon, he drew inspiration from the vast landscape and monumental works of civil engineering in the Pacific Northwest. While studying in New York he was introduced to the simple yet profoundly resonant gestures of land and installation artists of that time. His body of work is as informed by the land and the history of place as it is by formal training, and it is one that cuts a clear line through much of the infatuation with rhetoric and formal novelty surrounding the practice today. The approach to design combines a research-intensive focus on the specific character of each project with an understanding of the profoundly affecting possibilities of building. In addition to leading all aspects of creative work at Allied Works, Cloepfil has held guest professorships and given talks on the work throughout North America and Europe.

In 2000 Terence Riley, a leading architecture critic and former chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, identified Cloepfil as an architect who is “setting the pace for the future” in the compendium of contemporary architecture, 10×10, published by Phaidon Press. Riley believes Cloepfil’s work “has a certain assuredness and grace that comes from an intimate knowledge of materials and constructive possibilities” and that “his natural tendency is to fulfill the potential of any theoretical project, to realize it in such a way as to test and perfect the building art.”

In 2007 Metropolis’ Andrew Blum noted Brad as being “an elementalist in an architecture culture in which image is king… a leading American architect of a new type: not a showman or a theorist, not a regionalist or a corporate architect, but a high-art practitioner with a burgeoning reputation for powerful, if subtle, buildings.”

Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic of the Los Angeles Times, identified Cloepfil as a ‘2011 Face to Watch in the Arts’ along with two other international architects.

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Category: Architecture, Culture

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