McGill University Schulich School of Music

The design for the new Faculty of Music Building gives prominence to the southeast corner of the McGill University campus at Sherbrooke and Aylmer Streets in downtown Montreal. The new building is adjacent to the historic Strathcona Building, the existing home of the Faculty of Music, which houses one of the universitys main concert facilities. The new program adds to the faculty space, and includes a library, recital hall, state-of-the-art multimedia and practice studios, and faculty offices.

The site is a narrow strip of land between Aylmer Street and the east wing of the existing faculty building. The multimedia studio anchors the design. It is a polished limestone volume almost five stories high that is “embedded” three stories into the ground at the north end of the lot. Practice rooms and technical studios also inhabit the underground realm south of the multimedia studio. Above these submerged spaces, at street level, are located the recital hall and main entrance. A folded concrete plane defines these spaces and appears to support the main body of the building above. This plane evokes an eroded ground plane leading to Montreals prominent Mount Royal beyond. A three-storey high library sits immediately above the recital hall, over which are three additional storeys of office and practice space. The new building is linked to the older faculty buildings by a glazed bridge that runs through the main entrance hall.

The buildings east and west faades are discrete planes that frame the views of the city along Aylmer Street and toward the mountain. The east faade is clad in black and gray zinc, with long strip windows that illuminate the office corridors, and a large glazed opening into the library entry space. The west faade is designed to evoke musical figures-the surface pattern of matte and polished aluminum reflects the Strathcona Building while a series of punched windows, evoking the music rolls of antique mechanical pianos, bring light into the smaller spaces inside. The glazed front faade, facing Sherbrooke Street, allows exquisite daylight to permeate the library and conference spaces, creating interior environments conducive to learning and research for the visitors and occupants of the Faculty of Music.


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