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News – October 4, 2017

Remembering Bing Thom

December 8, 1940 – October 4, 2016

“Allard Hall is, for me, a series of special moments. The earliest was when Bing Thom presented his concept for the building. What he showed us was a photograph of a leafless winter bush, which revealed a series of birds’ nests scattered in its branches. This, he told us, was his idea for our building. It was audacious, but for those who knew Bing, no one would ever doubt his inspiration and persuasiveness, his passion and commitment, and his ability to understand what we needed sometimes before we realized it ourselves. So today we have our own birds’ nests, and who knew they would be so magnificent? Bing is no longer with us, but this building, which he saw to near completion, serves as an eloquent statement from an extraordinary architect and an amazing human being, and someone who was a good friend to MacEwan.”

– former MacEwan University President and BTA client Prof. David Atkinson at the Opening Ceremony for Allard Hall, Edmonton, September 27, 2017

A year has now passed since the death of the founder of Bing Thom Architects. The words of praise above were spoken at the official celebration of the opening of this new downtown home for MacEwan University’s communication and fine arts faculties, which includes three theatres and a gallery open to the public. The event was attended by Bing’s long-time collaborator, Allard Hall project designer, and his successor as the firm’s Design Principal, Venelin Kokalov, plus four of the design team members who shaped, detailed and constructed this building. It is a tribute to Bing’s originality of vision and inspiration that upon completion, Allard Hall has a series of student lounge “nests” suspended within the stairs and bridges of its central atrium, places for student-artists, creative faculty and visitors to exchange ideas and dreams.

Design workshop where Bing Thom and Venelin Kokalov explored options for the Allard Hall nests, seen as  finally constructed below.

The past year has been one of necessary evolution and transformation at Bing Thom Architects. Sharing duties with Kokalov as head of the firm is new Technical Principal Shinobu Homma, ensuring industry-leading innovation continues in construction materials and details, long a hallmark of the firm. Both the Hong Kong and Vancouver BT|A offices are hives of activity, working on buildings for the arts, academe, housing, recreation, research and civic institutions. All look forward to the 2019 opening of the Xiqu Centre in the West Kowloon Arts District, which will be the world’s leading venue for Cantonese opera. Wrapped in curving metal panels and with its opera hall suspended above the ground plane, this sensuous and civic-minded building will further confirm Bing Thom’s legacy, a permanent monument in the city of both his birth and death. As he would have wished, it is now time to look forward and create anew.