Mister Chen’s, Calgary

FORT Architecture, Calgary

Photography by Jamie Anholt

In Calgary, Mister Chen’s employs the de rigueur Chinese-restaurant apparatus of red lanterns, Imperial garden lion sculptures and replicas of soldiers from Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army. Then it gets creative with wall segments finished in custom-raked, textured concrete suggesting a faded, weathered old barracks, and abstracted versions of Red Army propaganda posters on the walls. The design of the restaurant and late-night lounge was inspired by the glamour and grit of Shanghai nightlife. These contrasting yin-and-yang opposites include plush velvets and the rough plaster mimicking concrete. To eke out the budget for renovating the existing bright, white space, the designers reused the original tile floors and buried the existing white marble walls under the faux concrete. A decorative screen adds Asian detailing to the windows; the backlit glass-block bar front and wall recall old store fronts on Shanghai back streets.