MacEwan University Centre for Arts and Culture set to open

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MacEwan University Centre for Arts and Culture set to open

Jeremiah McDade sports a hard hat and safety vest as he grips his saxophone.

Then he plays the first notes to be heard in the new 220-seat recital hall at the MacEwan University Centre for Arts and Culture at 104th Avenue and 110th Street.

"It's beautiful," said the music professor and member of the Celtic family ensemble The McDades.

"Most people who experience this centre will see the public spaces like this amazing recital hall and the art gallery," he said. "However, first and foremost, this centre is a teaching and learning facility."

The 428,000-sq.-foot structure is five storeys and cost $181 million. It features recording studios, theatres and a restaurant and is set to open in September.

"Right now there are hundreds of faculty, staff and students preparing for the move downtown," said dean of the faculty of fine arts and communication Allan Gilliland.

This month marks the end of classes in the old arts campus at 100th Avenue and 156th Street, a facility that has now been sold to the City of Edmonton.

The consolidation of MacEwan's facilities has been years in the making.

"We can't wait to bring our creativity and spirit to the downtown campus and join the rest of the university," Gilliland said.

Brendan Trayner, project manager with Manasc Issac Architects, admits it's been a challenging project.

"Acoustics is huge in a building like this. You want to make sure the sound is just right," Trayner said.

"For example, you're a student and you want to do an impromptu performance in the middle of the atrium, you want to make sure it doesn't just sound like an echo chamber."

Finishers applied specialized acoustic plaster to the walls to dampen the sound so it doesn't sound like "a big cave," Trayner said.

He reports the project is on time and on budget.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing students occupying the space and to see it filled up with energy and with art."

You can see more from inside the new MacEwan University Centre for Arts and Culture on this week's Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.