New Mount Royal University Performing Arts Center Debuts

CALGARY, Alberta — The Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, the newest addition to the Mount Royal University campus in Calgary, opened with an event at the center’s Bella Concert Hall on Aug. 26. The facility aims to reset the standard for music education in Canada.

Pfeiffer Partners Architects with offices in New York and Los Angeles, in association with Calgary-based Sahuri + Partners Architecture Inc., designed the center, which is part of the university’s six-phased expansion program. Upon completion, the expansion will better accommodate the growing Lincoln Park Campus student population.

The Taylor Centre serves the university’s music, theater and speech programs and also includes a wing dedicated to an early childhood program instructional suite. The Transalta Pavilion — a large elevated ensemble performance studio — and multiple ensemble rooms, individual and group practice rooms, and master classrooms provide a flexible learning environment, enhanced with breakout spaces for impromptu practice or socialization, according to Pfeiffer Partners. The most prominent feature of the new center is the Bella Concert Hall, designed with 10 theater boxes, an 89-seat choir loft and full multimedia capability.

Additional program components include an 800-seat concert hall, a multi-purpose rehearsal/performance studio for 85 musicians, ensemble studios, master classrooms, a recording studio, a percussion studio, flexible teaching studios and practice rooms, classrooms, a student lounge and meeting room, dressing rooms and a green room. A multi-level lobby and roof terrace also help to define the space.

Adjacent to the prominent East Gate campus entrance and the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning, the multi-tiered building serves as a new gateway for the growing campus, according to a statement by Pfeiffer Partners. An enclosed link between the two buildings allows for shared use of the lobby and other public spaces, enhancing potential synergies between the two programs.

The center’s design also offers a nod to its geographic location: The eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by rolling plains and farmland.

“A contemporary interpretation of the rural barn on the expansive prairie of Alberta inspired our choices in materials, structure, and color throughout the project,” said William Murray, principal with Pfeiffer Partners, in a statement. “Within the concert hall itself, the expressed structure echoes heavy timber construction, while the abstracted image of the Alberta Rose is the crowning feature in the design of the acoustical reflectors.”

Gili Meerovitch, the project’s interior designer, found inspiration in the story of Calgary as both a cosmopolitan city and a part of the prairie, crafting “grand, theatrical spaces that reveal their beauty at their own paces, with pronounced and distinct colors and quality of light,” according to a statement.

The facility is also designed to meet LEED Gold standards, with orientation and glazing placement that maximizes solar exposure to take advantage of natural lighting, according to a statement by Pfieffer Partners.