On-Site Magazine

Design team to transform Calgary’s Arts Commons

By Adam Freill   


Local and international experts to reimagine Calgary’s premier arts and culture centre.

Arts Commons

Arts Commons. (Image courtesy of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation)

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), together with partners Arts Commons and the City of Calgary, have announced that Toronto-based KPMB will lead the team that will design the expansion and renewal of Arts Commons, one of Canada’s largest arts centres, through the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project. KPMB will work with First-Nations firm Tawaw Architecture Collective Inc., Calgary-based Hindle Architects, and SLA, a design studio from Denmark. This design team is expected to bring a rich variety of perspectives and specialties to the major civic upgrade.

KPMB is a pedigreed architectural firm with 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. Tawaw, which is headed by Calgarian Wanda Dalla Costa, Canada’s first female First Nations architect, will ensure the Indigenous perspective is thoughtfully and meaningfully woven into all aspects of the design. And Hindle Architects is a local firm with a history of successful projects around Calgary.

Over the past year, the project partners have been working through the planning process to create a functional plan and business model for the expansion, conducting a building assessment and carrying out public engagement. As ACT development manager, CMLC led the selection process, working with representatives from the city and Arts Commons to consider proposals from 29 firms.

Currently home to five theatres and the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons will be transformed over two phases. The first, which is now fully funded, will see the addition of new performance venues and support areas. The second phase will modernize the existing Arts Commons, and will follow once funding is secured. The project scope for KPMB and the design team encompasses both phases.


“A thriving creative sector is essential to making Calgary a more resilient city,” stated 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.”

“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,” said Alex Sarian, Arts Commons president and CEO.”

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.

The new design is expected to be revealed this fall, with the first phase of construction scheduled to begin in 2024.




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