Francis Winspear Centre for Music

Creating an acoustic masterpiece

Civic & Culture

The Francis Winspear Centre for Music grew out of the community’s love for music. With a budget deemed impossible by a wide variety of experts, DIALOG assembled a fully integrated team that rose to the challenge of designing an international quality, acoustic music hall. The Centre has expanded the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s audience and attracted international talent to the stage. More than 20 years later, it still receives critical acclaim and remains central to Edmonton’s Arts District.

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Location
Edmonton, AB
Client
Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation
Completion
1997
Collaborators

Artec
Hemisphere Engineering
PCL Construction Management Inc.

DIALOG Services

Architecture
Electrical Engineering
Interior Design
Structural Engineering

Winspear Centre is appropriately nestled in the downtown core alongside Royal Alberta Museum, Art Gallery of Alberta, Citadel Theatre, City Hall, and Edmonton Public Library.

The heart of Winspear Centre is its spectacular 3-level performance chamber that seats 1,900 guests.

The program also includes the lobby, reception rooms, a rehearsal hall, back-of-house support facilities, and offices.

The result far exceeded expectations and budget constraints, opening on time, and without a single change to the price.

The result far exceeded expectations and budget constraints, opening on time, and without a single change to the price.

The walls of the performance chamber are micro-textured to create outstanding reverberance and clarity, which has resulted in a global reputation for acoustic excellence.

Five lines representing a music staff and the wandering North Saskatchewan River undulate along the chamber walls, along with impressions from leaves collected in Edmonton’s river valley.

The tall, dramatic windows in the lobby allow the sparkle of lights and music lovers to animate and engage Churchill Square and Edmonton’s Arts District.

The Team

Music can help build harmony between people of all ages, races, cultures and beliefs in our own growing city. My dream is to have a place where the people of our region can make the most beautiful music they are capable of – and share it with each other.

Dr. Francis G. Winspear

“On the one hand we set out to design and build a hall that works at the highest national and international standards of acoustical excellence. On the other hand, we set out to create a hall that works for all kind of music and activity, and invites the community in and invites them to be comfortable in blue jeans or in a tux.”
– Doug McConnell, DIALOG Architect

“When you think about the performance chamber at the Winspear Centre, it is a blend of art and science. So the design needed to be hard and acoustic, but it also needed to be soft, warm, and inviting to the audience. There was an intrinsic tension between the art and the science, but I also think that’s the strength of the room.”
– Donna Clare, DIALOG Architect

“Playing in a hall that is amazing is just as important as playing on a beautiful instrument. No matter how good your instrument and the musician is, if the hall isn’t going to project the sound well, it doesn’t really matter in the end.”
-Virginie Gagne, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Violinist

The Winspear Centre’s first 10 days of opening were dubbed “Winspearation” and the celebration saw over 60,000 people pass through the new concert hall. Edmontonians were eager to see inside the city’s newest addition to the arts scene.

Awards

1999 Design & Construction in Concrete Award of ExcellenceAmerican Concrete Institute (ACI) Alberta Chapter
1998 Performing Arts Centre of the Year AwardCanadian Session & Touring Industry Awards
1998 Award of ExcellenceAlberta Association of Architects
1998 Masonry Design AwardMasonry Contractors Association of Alberta
1997 Steel Design Award – Most Effective and Complex Use of Structural SteelCanadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) - Alberta Chapter