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Nelson Centre of Musical Arts By Irving Smith Architects

“ ... the architects have given civic pride a shot in the arm while strengthening the city’s relationship with heritage.”

P H O T O G R A P H Y PAT R I C K R E Y N O L D S C AT E G O R Y : E D U C AT I O N , H E R I TA G E P E O P L E ’ S C H O I C E AWA R D & R E S E N E C O L O U R AWA R D

T

he reworking of the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts is not just good news for those that use the building; it’s good for the entire community, says the jury. “In restoring the original character of this ‘grand old dame’, the architects have given civic pride a shot in the arm while strengthening the city’s relationship with heritage. The extension to the Centre is a performance piece in its own right, with worldclass recital, recording and practice spaces collected under a roof that cascades respectfully away from the existing building to a glazed façade that brings activity and theatre to the street. “Black bricks and white surfaces give voice to the ‘new’ while also establishing a conversation with the traditional brick and plasterwork of the existing building. Heritage colour ways have also been reintroduced in a way that clearly differentiates between what is old and what is new.” Since being completed in 1901, the School of Music has been reworked numerous times –but the jury added, never as significantly or as successfully as it has with this refurbishment. “Irving Smith has orchestrated a complex but discrete seismic upgrade of the auditorium, re-introduced exterior ornamentation – notably reinstating the parapet –and exceeded all spatial and acoustic Above: Clockwise - Inside the re-designed auditorium; the exterior retains its heritage features

requirements for a building of this type. In the process of reestablishing lost grandeur, the architects have made transformational changes that will serve the community well for generations to come.” The Centre’s auditorium and Beatrice Kidson building both underwent substantial refurbishment giving way to a new entrance foyer and bar, as well as a modern recital theatre, green rooms and studios. The performance rooms are multipurpose and pitch-perfect, and everything in the facility has been designed to either enhance sound or minimise it. In the recital theatre, architectural features like zigzagging soffits and non-parallel walls minimise sound bounce. Another room can be adapted into a recording studio to broadcast performances live on Concert FM. 37

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