Cantos National Music Centre | SPF:architects
cantos national music centre, Calgary, Canada, Performing Arts architecture, bridge building, wood atrium, soundscape

Cantos National Music Centre

A unique combination of performing arts venue, music museum, music education facility, and blues bar, the Cantos National Music Centre is a catalytic project envisioned for a redevelopment area of Calgary, Canada. The client required iconic architecture, a community destination, and restoration of the city's historic King Edward bar. We were one of five architecture firms shortlisted for this project, among them Jean Nouvel, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and Allied Works.

Anchoring the project both physically and symbolically, we raised King Eddy slightly to match the elevation and sightlines of the lobby on an adjacent site, with both structures wrapped in glass creating a mutual transparency.

Above, the building represents a giant bridge. Filling the bridge on every level, the many program areas are fused together. Conceptually similar to a wood joint, where maximum surface-to-surface connection provides the greatest opportunity for cohesion, fusion, and strength, the multi-layered connectivity of the bridge strengthens and enriches the community experience—a symbol and strength of the Cantos organization.

wood atrium, soundscape, cantos national music centre, Calgary, Canada, los angeles architecture, bridge building, los angeles architects, los angeles architecture

A central, canted atrium called the Soundscape, aurally and visually connects all levels of the building with operable vents that transmit sound from the performing spaces into the atrium at the control of the facility operator . Like the inner-architecture of a musical instrument, the Soundscape is wonderfully clad in wood and tunable.

The exterior is adorned in black, precast concrete panels with a flat finish to harness maximum heat during Calgary’s many cold months for the building’s energy systems. At a distance, the concept appears a monolith—a striking black volume with syncopated skin and a central shaft of light, suspending volumes on alternating sides. On the backdrop of a night sky, these volumes of activity appear suspended in space, hovering over the landscape like a musical beacon, begging the viewer to draw near. The skin’s playful perforations lend additional sparkle and mystery to its nocturnal presence.


  • AIA|LA Next LA Award 2009