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Finding Calgary’s Architectural Masterpieces – Studio Bell And The Central Library


by Carrissa Azevedo



Calgary, the vibrant city nestled in the heart of the Canadian province of Alberta, is not just known for its stunning landscapes and welcoming atmosphere. It is also a city rich in architectural masterpieces that captivate visitors and locals alike. In this article, we will explore two of Calgary’s most notable architectural gems – Studio Bell and The Central Library.


When it comes to architecture, Calgary boasts a diverse mix of styles that blend tradition with modern innovation. From soaring skyscrapers to iconic landmarks, the city’s architecture reflects its dynamic and progressive spirit. Studio Bell and The Central Library are prime examples of this, showcasing exquisite design elements and pushing the boundaries of architectural expression.


Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, is a stunning architectural masterpiece that stands as a testament to Calgary’s love for music and creativity. Located in the vibrant East Village neighborhood, it is a cultural hub that celebrates Canada’s rich musical heritage while embracing cutting-edge technology and design.


On the other hand, The Central Library is an architectural marvel that has become an iconic symbol of knowledge and community in Calgary. Designed by the renowned architectural firm, Snøhetta, this modern library is an ode to creativity, imagination, and inclusivity. Its distinctive shape and intricate details make it a must-visit destination for architecture enthusiasts.


Join us as we delve into the enchanting world of Studio Bell and The Central Library, unraveling their unique features and unraveling the stories behind their creation. Let’s embark on this architectural journey and discover the beauty that lies within these exceptional structures.


Studio Bell: Calgary’s Architectural Gem

Studio Bell, located in the heart of Calgary’s East Village, is more than just a building; it is a harmonious fusion of architecture, music, and Canadian heritage. Serving as the home of the National Music Centre, this awe-inspiring structure stands as a testament to Calgary’s passion for music and its commitment to fostering creativity and innovation.


The design of Studio Bell is a work of art in itself. Designed by the acclaimed architectural firm, Allied Works Architecture, the building embraces the concept of harmony between space, sound, and light. Its sleek, contemporary exterior draws inspiration from the nearby Rocky Mountains and showcases a stunning interplay of glass, steel, and polished concrete.


One of the most striking features of Studio Bell is the Bell Tower, a prominent element that can be seen from various vantage points across the city. Standing at 155 feet tall, the tower serves as a gateway to the National Music Centre and houses a collection of thirty-five bronze bells, each representing a Canadian province and territory.


As you enter Studio Bell, you are greeted by a sprawling atrium that spans five floors. The space exhibits a seamless blend of music history, interactive exhibits, and state-of-the-art technology. Every step reveals a new discovery, from vintage musical instruments and memorabilia of iconic Canadian musicians to recording studios and interactive sound installations.


The architectural design of Studio Bell allows for flexible spaces and adaptable configurations, ensuring that it can cater to a wide range of exhibitions, performances, and events. The building features a 300-seat performance hall, a broadcast and recording studio, educational spaces, and a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of the city.


The interiors of the building are a testament to meticulous attention to detail. The use of warm wood finishes, acoustically engineered spaces, and carefully designed lighting creates an inviting and immersive environment for visitors. Whether you are a music enthusiast, a history buff, or simply curious about the evolving world of sound, Studio Bell offers a captivating experience that engages all the senses.


Beyond its architectural beauty, Studio Bell plays a vital role in preserving and promoting Canada’s musical heritage. The National Music Centre houses an extensive collection of musical artifacts, recordings, and archives that document the rich history of Canadian music. It also serves as a platform for aspiring musicians, offering educational programs, workshops, and the opportunity to collaborate and perform in world-class facilities.


Studio Bell is not just a building; it is a symbol of Calgary’s creativity, innovation, and love for music. Its architectural brilliance, coupled with its commitment to preserving and celebrating Canadian music, makes it a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.


Overview of Studio Bell

Studio Bell, home to the National Music Centre, is a cultural and architectural landmark located in Calgary’s East Village. Spanning over 160,000 square feet, this iconic building houses a plethora of exhibits, interactive installations, performance spaces, and educational programs that celebrate and promote Canada’s vibrant music scene.


Upon entering Studio Bell, visitors are greeted by a stunning five-story atrium that serves as the central hub of the building. The atrium showcases a visually striking staircase that spirals upwards, inviting guests to explore the various levels of musical wonder that await them.


The building is thoughtfully designed to offer a seamless and immersive experience. Each floor is dedicated to a different aspect of the music industry, including exhibition spaces, interactive displays, performance halls, and recording studios. The diverse range of exhibits covers everything from the evolution of musical instruments to the influence of Canadian musicians on the global music landscape.


Studio Bell embraces technology as an integral part of the visitor experience. Interactive installations allow guests to create their own music, experiment with sound manipulation, and learn about the technical aspects of music production. From virtual reality experiences to hands-on demonstrations, these interactive elements captivate audiences of all ages and provide a unique opportunity for exploration and discovery.


The National Music Centre’s vast collection of musical artifacts is a treasure trove for music enthusiasts and history buffs. From iconic guitars and consoles to rare recordings and memorabilia, the exhibits provide a deep dive into the rich heritage of Canadian music. The collection is meticulously curated and regularly updated, ensuring that there is always something new to discover during each visit.


In addition to its exhibition spaces, Studio Bell is home to world-class performance and recording facilities. The building features a 300-seat concert hall, known as the Performance Hall, which hosts a range of musical performances, from intimate concerts to larger-scale productions. The state-of-the-art recording studio, equipped with the latest audio technology, provides a professional space for artists to create and record their music.


Studio Bell is not just a place for passive observation; it is a space that encourages active engagement and learning. The facility offers a comprehensive range of educational programs and workshops for people of all ages, designed to nurture musical talent, foster creativity, and explore the art of sound. From music production classes to songwriting workshops, Studio Bell provides opportunities for aspiring musicians and curious minds to delve deeper into the world of music.


Overall, Studio Bell is a dynamic and vibrant space that offers a captivating experience for music lovers, history enthusiasts, and those seeking creative inspiration. Its architectural grandeur, combined with its immersive exhibits, interactive installations, and commitment to music education, make it a cultural gem within the heart of Calgary.


Architectural Features of Studio Bell

The architectural design of Studio Bell is a harmonious blend of innovation, functionality, and visual appeal. Every element of the building has been carefully considered to create a space that not only showcases Canada’s music heritage but also captures the imagination of visitors. Here are some of the standout architectural features of Studio Bell:


1. Bell Tower: Standing tall at 155 feet, the Bell Tower is a prominent feature of Studio Bell. It serves as a striking visual landmark, with its sleek and contemporary design drawing inspiration from the nearby Rocky Mountains. The tower houses thirty-five bronze bells, each representing a Canadian province and territory. The bells create a unique and melodic chiming experience, adding an ethereal touch to the ambiance of the building.


2. Glass Facade: Studio Bell boasts an impressive glass facade that wraps around the building. The extensive use of glass allows natural light to flood the interior spaces, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere. The transparency of the facade also provides breathtaking views of the surrounding cityscape, establishing a connection between the interior and exterior environments.


3. Atrium: The central atrium of Studio Bell is a focal point of the building’s design. Spanning five stories, the atrium is a visually stunning space with its spiraling staircase and expansive glass windows. It serves as a dynamic gathering place, connecting the different levels of the building and providing a sense of openness and fluidity.


4. Rooftop Terrace: Studio Bell features a rooftop terrace that offers panoramic views of downtown Calgary and the beautiful Bow River. The terrace provides a serene outdoor space where visitors can relax, enjoy the scenery, and appreciate the building’s unique vantage point. It is also used for performances and special events, adding an additional layer of versatility to the architectural design.


5. Acoustic Design: The architectural design of Studio Bell takes into consideration the importance of sound quality and acoustics. The building’s interiors are acoustically engineered, ensuring optimal sound performance in the various performance halls and recording studios. The acoustics contribute to the immersive and engaging experience for visitors, allowing them to fully appreciate the musical performances and exhibits within the space.


6. Flexibility: Studio Bell is designed to be adaptable and flexible, accommodating a wide range of exhibitions, performances, and events. The building’s layout allows for multiple configurations, ensuring that it can cater to different types of musical experiences. The performance hall, for example, can be transformed from an intimate setting to a larger venue, depending on the needs of the event.


7. Sustainable Design: Sustainability is a key aspect of Studio Bell’s architectural design. The building incorporates energy-efficient systems, such as solar panels and a rainwater collection system, to minimize its environmental impact. These sustainable features align with Calgary’s commitment to green initiatives and contribute to the overall eco-consciousness of the building.


The architectural features of Studio Bell combine aesthetics, functionality, and innovation to create a space that celebrates music and engages the senses. From its striking Bell Tower to its thoughtful use of glass and natural light, Studio Bell stands as a testament to Calgary’s commitment to architectural excellence and its enduring love for music.


The Central Library: A Marvel of Architecture in Calgary

The Central Library, located in downtown Calgary, is more than just a hub of knowledge and information; it is also a masterpiece of architectural design. Designed by the renowned architectural firm Snøhetta, this modern library is a true marvel that embodies the spirit of Calgary’s progressive and innovative nature.


The Central Library stands as a striking contrast to the surrounding urban landscape, with its geometric forms and sleek lines. The building’s facade is adorned with an intricate pattern of glass and aluminum that reflects the changing light and adds a sense of depth and texture. The design seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, paying homage to Calgary’s rich history while embracing contemporary aesthetics.


One of the most distinctive features of The Central Library is the awe-inspiring arching entrance known as the “Arches of Knowledge.” These arches serve as a metaphorical gateway to the world of literature and learning, inviting visitors to explore the vast resources contained within. The innovative use of glass in this architectural element allows natural light to flood the entrance area, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.


Inside, The Central Library continues to impress with its open and spacious design. A central atrium spans multiple levels, serving as the heart of the building and connecting various sections. The atrium features soaring ceilings and grand staircases, giving visitors a sense of expansiveness and grandeur.


One of the most captivating aspects of The Central Library is its intricate inner mesh structure, known as the “oculus.” This unique feature is a nod to Calgary’s Chinatown district and is made up of a network of interlocking aluminum triangles. The oculus creates a breathtaking play of light and shadows, infusing the space with a sense of enchantment and wonder.


The architectural design of The Central Library also focuses on sustainability and environmental consciousness. The building incorporates numerous eco-friendly features, including a green roof, solar panels, and energy-efficient systems. These initiatives align with Calgary’s commitment to sustainable development, showcasing how architecture can be both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible.


Beyond its striking exterior and innovative design, The Central Library offers a vast array of resources and services to the community. State-of-the-art technology, comfortable reading areas, and collaborative spaces are all designed with the needs and preferences of modern library users in mind. The library also hosts a diverse range of events, exhibitions, and educational programs that foster a love for learning and promote community engagement.


The Central Library is not just a place to borrow books; it is a cultural hub that celebrates the power of knowledge and imagination. Its architectural brilliance, combined with its commitment to accessibility, sustainability, and community involvement, make it a true marvel of design in Calgary.


Overview of The Central Library

The Central Library stands as a beacon of knowledge and community in the heart of downtown Calgary. Designed by the renowned architectural firm Snøhetta, this architectural marvel has quickly become an iconic symbol of Calgary’s commitment to education, innovation, and accessibility.


The Central Library spans over 240,000 square feet, providing ample space for a wide range of materials, resources, and services. Its modern and open design welcomes visitors with its sleek lines, captivating forms, and a multipurpose plaza that acts as a hub for social interaction and cultural events.


As you enter The Central Library, you are greeted by a sense of awe and wonder. The building boasts a central atrium that rises multiple levels, creating a bright and spacious environment. The atrium serves as a gathering place, connecting various sections of the library and encouraging exploration and collaboration.


The library’s interior is thoughtfully designed, with strategically placed reading areas, study spaces, and technology-equipped resource centers. The collection spans a vast range of materials, including books, eBooks, periodicals, audiovisual material, and digital resources, catering to a diverse array of interests and needs.


The Central Library is not just a place for quiet study. It is also a vibrant cultural destination that offers a multitude of services and programs for the community. The library hosts workshops, author readings, art exhibitions, and performances, promoting creative expression and cultural diversity.


Technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the library, enhancing the visitor experience. From self-checkout kiosks to interactive touchscreen displays, The Central Library embraces digital innovation while still maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Accessibility is a key focus at The Central Library. The building is designed to accommodate individuals of all abilities, with features such as accessible ramps, elevators, and tactile navigation aids. The library’s commitment to inclusivity is further evident in its offering of resources for different languages, as well as programs and services that cater to diverse communities.


The Central Library is not just a place for Calgarians to borrow books; it is a community gathering space that fosters connection, learning, and inspiration. Whether you’re seeking knowledge, a quiet place to study, or a stimulating cultural experience, The Central Library offers an inviting and enriching environment for all.


Overall, The Central Library stands as a testament to Calgary’s commitment to education, community, and architectural excellence. Its striking design, diverse collection, and inclusive programming make it a cultural landmark that enriches the lives of both locals and visitors alike.


Architectural Features of The Central Library

The Central Library in Calgary is a stunning architectural masterpiece that not only houses a vast collection of knowledge but also serves as an awe-inspiring destination in its own right. Designed by Snøhetta, a world-renowned architectural firm, The Central Library showcases a captivating blend of design elements that create a visually mesmerizing and functional space.


The striking and innovative architectural features of The Central Library are as follows:


1. The Oculus: One of the most distinctive features of The Central Library is the oculus, a mesmerizing mesh structure that spans the upper levels of the building. Made up of interlocking aluminum triangles, the oculus is inspired by the shape of a snowflake and pays homage to Calgary’s Chinatown district. It serves as an architectural focal point and allows natural light to filter into the library, creating a dynamic play of light and shadow.


2. The Arches of Knowledge: The entrance to The Central Library is marked by the iconic Arches of Knowledge. These large, arched windows not only create a visually stunning architectural feature but also serve as a symbolic gateway to knowledge and exploration. They are designed to bathe the entrance area in natural light, welcoming visitors into the world of learning and discovery.


3. Glass Facade: The Central Library boasts a striking glass facade that wraps around the building, creating a sense of transparency and openness. The extensive use of glass allows for abundant natural light to flood the interior spaces, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere. The glass facade also offers stunning views of the surrounding cityscape, connecting the interior of the library with its urban surroundings.


4. Cascade Steps: The Cascade Steps, a series of wide and inviting steps that cascade down from the main entrance, offer a unique seating and gathering area for visitors. These steps serve as a gathering space, creating opportunities for social interaction and a place to relax while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of The Central Library. The design of the steps also enhances the overall aesthetics of the space.


5. Green Roof: The Central Library embraces sustainability with its impressive green roof, which is not only visually appealing but also contributes to energy efficiency. The rooftop area, adorned with vegetation, helps reduce the building’s environmental footprint by enhancing insulation, managing stormwater, and providing habitat for wildlife. It showcases Calgary’s commitment to sustainable building practices and environmental stewardship.


6. Open Spaces and Flexibility: The Central Library’s architectural design emphasizes open and flexible spaces to accommodate a variety of activities and needs. From large, open areas for events and exhibitions to cozy reading nooks and study spaces, the design fosters a sense of comfort and versatility. The library’s flexible spaces allow for seamless transitions and adaptability to cater to different functions and events.


7. Collaboration Areas: The Central Library features a range of collaboration spaces, including meeting rooms, group study areas, and creative zones. These areas are strategically designed to promote teamwork, innovation, and knowledge sharing. The library recognizes the importance of collaboration in the modern age and provides the infrastructure to support these interactions.


The Central Library’s architectural features combine aesthetic appeal with functionality, creating an environment that stimulates the senses and invites exploration. From the mesmerizing oculus to the welcoming Arches of Knowledge and green roof, each architectural element elevates the visitor experience and showcases the beauty of design in combination with the pursuit of knowledge.



Calgary’s architectural landscape is enriched by two remarkable structures – Studio Bell and The Central Library. These architectural gems showcase the city’s commitment to creativity, innovation, and a sense of community. Studio Bell, home to the National Music Centre, stands as a testament to Calgary’s passion for music and its dedication to preserving Canada’s musical heritage. With its striking design, flexible spaces, and immersive exhibits, Studio Bell offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.


On the other hand, The Central Library is a breathtaking marvel designed to inspire and connect the community. Its elegant architecture, highlighted by the Arches of Knowledge and the innovative oculus, makes it an iconic symbol of education, accessibility, and the pursuit of knowledge. The library’s integration of sustainable features and its commitment to inclusivity further enhance its significance in the city.


Both Studio Bell and The Central Library demonstrate Calgary’s commitment to architectural excellence and cultural enrichment. They serve as more than mere structures; they have become destinations that inspire, educate, and bring people together. Whether it’s exploring the rich musical heritage of Canada or immersing oneself in the world of literature and learning, these architectural masterpieces never fail to astonish visitors with their beauty and functionality.


Calgary’s architectural landscape is a testament to the city’s vibrant and progressive nature. Studio Bell and The Central Library truly showcase the creative vision of architects and the desire to create spaces that engage, inspire, and uplift the community. They stand as testaments to the enduring power of architecture to shape the human experience and make a lasting impact on the cultural identity of a city.


Whether you are a music lover, a bookworm, or simply an admirer of architectural beauty, Studio Bell and The Central Library are must-visit destinations in Calgary. These architectural masterpieces beckon visitors to explore, learn, and be inspired. They are reminders of the rich cultural tapestry that Calgary has to offer and continue to serve as beacons of creativity and knowledge for generations to come.