The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), together with partners Arts Commons and
The City of Calgary, announced the team that will lead the design for the expansion and renewal of Arts Commons, through the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project.

Heading up the team is Toronto-based KPMB, an architectural firm with proven expertise in major arts and theatre projects, including Toronto’s Massey Hall and the Allied Music Centre, the Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, Boston University’s Center for Computer and Data Sciences, and the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity.

Working closely with KPMB will be Tawaw Architecture Collective Inc., headed by Calgarian (and Canada’s first female First Nations architect) Wanda Dalla Costa. Tawaw will ensure the Indigenous perspective is thoughtfully and meaningfully woven into all aspects of the design.

Rounding out the project team are Calgary-based Hindle Architects, a trusted local firm with a history of successful projects around Calgary, and SLA, an internationally renowned nature-based design studio out of Denmark.

“A thriving creative sector is essential to making Calgary a more resilient city,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “Arts Commons is one of the main pillar projects that will give our city a much-needed boost — it will catalyze growth, diversify our economic drivers and draw even more people to the downtown core.”

Arts Commons—currently home to five theatres and the world-class Jack Singer Concert Hall—will be transformed over two phases. The first phase—now fully funded—will see the expansion of Arts Commons, adding new performance venues and support areas with thoughtful connections to the current building. The second phase, the modernization of the existing Arts Commons, will follow once funding is secured. The project scope for KPMB and the design team encompasses both phases.

According to Alex Sarian, Arts Commons President and CEO, “ACT will help make Calgary an even more livable city by giving Calgarians and our visitors improved access to a wide variety of arts and culture experiences—and more formal and informal gathering spaces in which to enjoy them. Through this transformation, Arts Commons is committed to creating a diverse, inclusive and welcoming place for all—and to enhancing our citizens’ quality of life by expanding the ways they can connect with the arts and their community.”

Kate Thompson, CMLC president & CEO, spoke to the significance of the project to the city. “Today’s announcement sets in motion the eagerly anticipated design phase for our city’s premier arts and culture centre. The expansion and renewal of Arts Commons will not only be celebrated by the city’s arts community—it will also help fuel the bigger-picture efforts underway to diversify Calgary’s economy and enliven its downtown.”

KPMB, Hindle Architects, Tawaw Architecture Collective, and SLA speak keenly of their vital position in the project. “We are so pleased to be collaborating with CMLC, Arts Commons and The City to invest in and contribute to the transformation of cultural life in Calgary. Drawing from our deeply rooted practice and our extensive experience in this realm, our strong, creative and responsive project team is energized by the opportunity to revitalize Arts Commons and create an inclusive, vibrant and resilient place that will serve as both a catalyst for cultural growth and a healing force for Calgarians and the city—especially
during these challenging times.”

Calgary-based PCL Construction, which was awarded the contract for the project’s pre-construction services, will work alongside the prime design team to ensure the design process is aligned with future construction planning.

Now that the prime design team is in place, its first step will be to initiate the ACT concept design phase.

The team expects to reveal the new design in fall 2022. The first phase of construction is scheduled to begin in 2024.

Featured image: (CLMC)

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