After nearly a decade in the making, Contemporary Calgary recently became the city's newest cultural epicentre when it opened to the public this past January.

Housed in Calgary's former Centennial Planetarium, the cultural organization formally amalgamated in 2014 as result of collaborations between established local arts institutions including the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art (IMCA), the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC), and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MOCA).

When it came time to add auditory components to the new gallery's installations late last year, the organization's CEO David Leinster joined forces with Calgary-based loudspeaker manufacturer PK Sound, as well as local system integrator Laser Productions, to power the repurposed architectural landmark. Contemporary Calgary is now the latest haven for the city's modern and contemporary arts community, in addition to helping bolster Calgary's reputation as a global destination for contemporary art and culture.

"Like the recently unveiled National Music Center and the newly built Central Public Library, Contemporary Calgary has become one of the many examples where the local community has come together to create the city they want to live in," Leinster said, "and, perhaps, to help it be defined more broadly, from an international perspective.”

"These institutions are helping people to see that inside the streets of a city like Calgary, you can find these amazing cultural experiences," he continued "and we couldn't have done this without local companies like PK Sound and Laser Productions. Everyone came together and had a common vision — and that's really in the spirit of Calgary. They wanted to help, and to celebrate the rejuvenation of a building that means a lot to the people of the city."

Purpose-built in 1967, as part of a series of government-funded projects commissioned in celebration of Canada's centennial anniversary, the former science center's renovation designs required an "adaptive reuse" approach the space, preserving the original integrity and central design elements of the iconic structure — which presented some acoustical challenges when it came to installing PK Sound loudspeaker systems.

"The former Centennial Planetarium is a very special building, not only because it won the Massey Medal for Architecture in 1970 — which was our Governor General's  award for Canadian architecture — and it is one of the best examples of Brutalist architecture that can be found globally," Leinster said. "So when it came to renovating the interior spaces, adaptive reuse was really important because there's a certain responsibility involved when you're working with historical structures. The question is: How do you appropriately bring them forward to have a purpose for which they were not expressly built?”

"It's a very whimsical, engaging building to be in," he said. "And now, as an art gallery, it's a winding and wandering visual experience architecturally. The surroundings of the space really lend themselves to being a canvas for the interpretation of contemporary art and artists."

In addition to integrating both permanent and portable PK Sound Klarity loudspeaker systems in Contemporary Calgary's gallery spaces, a 5.1 Klarity surround sound system in the screening room, and a 7.1 Klarity surround sound system in the secondary more traditional-style theatre, Calgary-based Laser Productions also installed a 7.1 Klarity surround sound system in the former planetarium's central feature — the 13-meter dome former dubbed the "Celestial Theatre."

"The Dome Theatre is an interesting and challenging space from a sound perspective because it's spherical," Leinster said. "It's very tricky how you bring sound into that space, because it's very intimate. So you had to think about how you can adapt the sound for more reflective, quiet encounters, to works of film that can be quite loud and aggressive, to everything in between.”

"The folks at PK Sound, as well as the integrator for the project, Laser Productions, had an amazing desire to participate, to partner up, and to solve this problem. It was an entirely shared feeling between our organization and PK. And Ed Dolby at Laser Productions should also be recognized for his amazing understanding of PK's products and his investment in them. It's one thing to install a speaker, but it's another thing to make them work in the context of this gallery and all its complexities."

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