Arts Commons

The City of Calgary Recreation, their Civic Partnership Group and Facility Operations all joined together to champion a hybrid Building Condition Assessment (BCA) for the well-known Arts Commons facility located in Calgary, Alberta.

Prior to the Arts Commons BCA, Williams Engineering (WE) had developed a specialized protocol based on the National Master Specifications to be used for all City of Calgary Recreation Building Condition Assessments. It was determined by the City that the Arts Commons facility would make the best pilot project for the protocol, as it required much more than a base building assessment and would thoroughly test the capabilities of the protocol.

Arts Commons in Calgary is one of the largest performing arts centres in Canada. The centre originally opened in 1985 with three venues to house the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatre Calgary, and Alberta Theatre Projects. In the following decades, three more venues were added to house a third resident theatre company and to provide needed rental venues for other Calgary Arts groups. Today the centre is anchored by two heritage buildings (Burns and Public Buildings) and is comprised of the following branches: Jack Singer Concert Hall, Martha Cohen Theatre, Max Bell Theatre, Engineered Air Theatre, Big Secret Theatre, Motel, Burns Building, and the Public Building.

The objective of everyone involved was to assess all of the components that make the building the very unique facility that it is. Due to the large scale and various components of the Arts Commons facility, in addition to our in-house mechanical, structural, electrical and building science teams, WE enlisted the support of specialists in the following areas: theatrics (sound, audio, video, lighting and seating), acoustics, conveyance, rigging, architectural, people movement and cost consultants. The team travelled from all over Canada to be a part of this comprehensive project.

The number of people engaged to complete the project posed its own distinct set of logistical challenges and required significant coordination. Over 30 people were coordinated to complete site visits over a six-week long period. It was important to WEC to ensure the findings of the team were understood and properly communicated with the City of Calgary, the Civic Partnership Group, the Operators and the Arts Commons Board Committee.

Two meetings were organized to serve two different purposes. The first meeting WE organized with the City of Calgary, the Civic Partnership group and the Operators was to explain the methodology, process and findings from the BCA. The second meeting was held with the Arts Commons Board Committee to explain how the findings could be used to deploy a capital planning tool. Ultimately, the tool could be used by the Committee, in conjunction with the BCA report to manage to fund future renovations.