Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects' TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in Toronto
The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), founded in 1886, is Canada's premier music and arts educator. Since the 1960s, the RCM has been housed in two Victorian buildings: McMaster Hall (1881) and Mazzoleni Hall (1910), which was restored and converted into a concert hall by KPMB in 1997. Located on Bloor Street West, Toronto’s main east-west artery and high end shopping district, the RCM occupies an important urban site adjacent to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). In concert with Daniel Libeskind’s transformation of the ROM, and KPMB’s work on the Gardiner Museum and the RCM will define a new cultural precinct for Toronto.
The new additions to the RCM act as a backdrop against the existing heritage buildings. The space between the old and the new buildings is enclosed to create a skylit pedestrian court. A series of bridges facilitate circulation between the upper levels. Contemporary glazing systems for the new additions provide a dynamic counterpoint to the polychromatic facades of the heritage buildings.
The TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning was conceived to provide a flexible, fully-wired infrastructure that will adapt easily to new technologies. Marianne McKenna, principal in charge, and her team of architects worked closely with a core user group to create teaching and instruction spaces. The facility will house the 1100-seat Michael and Sonja Koerner Concert Hall which has been sculpted to create an optimal acoustical environment for live and broadcast performances. The design of the Hall will create a signature image for the RCM and become a destination for music lovers worldwide.
The overall design emphasizes the primacy of acoustics and manifests the RCM’s educational mandate to nurture the vital role of music in culture and society.