AIA Education Design Awards
by Brian Libby
When Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music set about expanding its midtown Toronto campus, a careful balancing act was required. The project combined construction of the new Telus Centre for Performance and Learning with the progressive restoration of historic McMaster Hall. The conservatory also sought to energize a new cultural district for the city in conjunction with major cultural facilities nearby, such as the Royal Ontario Museum and Gardiner Museum.
Designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the Telus Centre is one of 13 projects recognized in the 2011 Educational Facility Design Awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education.
The awards program seeks to identify trends and emerging ideas, honor quality in planning and design, and disseminate knowledge about best practices in educational and community facilities. Among this year's honorees, some trends emerge, including sustainability, transparency, and flexibility of use.
Music School in Toronto
The Telus Centre for Performance and Learning is the final phase in the 1991 master plan for the Royal Conservatory's new home. The overriding idea for the campus was to create a hybrid of teaching and rehearsal facilities with three differently sized performance venues, and to facilitate flexibility to accommodate future growth and changes in programs.
The centerpiece is the main concert venue: Koerner Hall, located in the Telus Centre. A classic shoebox-shaped hall with three curving, oak-clad balcony tiers, the 1,135-seat venue boasts superlative acoustics. The hall itself previously received an award for its use of wood. The 190,000-square-foot (18,000-square-meter) Telus Centre also contains teaching and practice studios.
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