Chan Centre for the Performing Arts | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Performing arts complex at the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, Vancouver.

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Performing arts complex at the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, Vancouver. Following a $10-million donation from the Chan family, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts was commissioned by the university in the early 1990s to accommodate the departments of music, film and theatre. The complex has gained praise for its acoustics and architecture. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Recital Society, Early Music Vancouver, and the National Broadcast Orchestra (formerly CBC Radio Orchestra) have been frequent performers there. Directors have been Michael Noon (1997-2002) and Sid Katz (2002-).

Funding and Development
Designed by Bing Thom Architects (Toronto), acousticians ARTEC Consultants (New York), and Theatre Projects Consultants (London, Eng), the Chan Centre was constructed 1995-7 on a budget of $25 million.

Architecture and Theatre Specifications

The Chan Centre has received several national design awards, successfully blending modern architecture and urban materials with the natural landscape. The cylindrical glass, steel, and zinc-panelled structure houses the Chan Shun Concert Hall, the Telus Studio Theatre, and the Royal Bank Cinema.

The Chan Shun Concert Hall seats 90 musicians and has an audience capacity of 1,185, with additional seating for 180 in the choir loft. The shoebox-shaped hall contains elements inspired by the cello, including undulating curved walls and steel cables suspended overhead. The walls are lined with concrete, maple, and motorized velour curtains to eliminate echo and evenly distribute sound. A 17,000 kg adjustable acoustic canopy provides a range of reverberation control. The intimacy of the space and the natural quality of the acoustics have earned the hall a strong reputation, and made it a frequent site for CBC recordings. Reviewer Lloyd Dykk extolled: "The quietness was a testament to the players' precision of ensemble . . . . and a tribute to the acoustics which transmitted these tiny cuticles of sound with rich, full-toned presence even at their softest" (Vancouver Sun, 26 May 1997).

The Telus Studio Theatre showcases small ensembles, dance, and avant-garde dramatic presentations, and seats 160-275 in thrust-stage, proscenium, and theatre-in-the-round configurations. The 160-seat Royal Bank Cinema is used for film screenings and lectures.


The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts opened 12 May 1997 with a two-week festival featuring the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Marc-André Hamelin, pipa soloist Qui Xia He, Tafelmusik, Spirit of the West, and the world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies' oratorio Job (commissioned by the UBC School of Music). Programming has been increasingly international, with performances by Ornette Coleman, The Count Basie Orchestra, Renée Fleming, Ben Heppner, the Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, and Robert Silverman, among others.

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