Inside Calgary’s New BMO Centre Expansion

Now the largest convention centre in Western Canada, the BMO Centre’s 565,000-square-foot expansion features 38 new meeting rooms, a 100,000-square-foot outdoor plaza, striking public art and more.

Photo by Chris Landry.

Calgary is officially home to the largest convention centre in Western Canada.

A feat decades in the making, the BMO Centre has completed a 565,000-square-foot expansion that’s now open to the public, with hundreds of event and conference bookings already set to fill the three-level space in the coming months. Overseen by CMLC, the expansion was primarily designed with Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture, and was constructed over four years.

With its composite metal panel facade and 170-foot curved canopy, the expanded building is an impressive structure, and there are plenty of notable features both inside and out. Along with additional exhibition space spanning more than 100,000 square feet, the expanded facility has two new column-free ballrooms, 38 new meeting rooms, a huge outdoor plaza, striking public art and more. The project worked with Calgary accessibility consultant Level Playing Field and incorporated several accessibility features ranging from wider outdoor sidewalks with wayfinding patterns and an exterior service-animal relief area to interior features like tactile handrail cues and braille signage.

There are more than 80 pieces of art in the BMO Centre expansion chosen by a volunteer art committee. Two major pieces are the “Spirit of Water” steel sculpture in the outdoor plaza and the “Neon Cowboy” piece by the concierge desk in the main-floor lobby.

Those who want to see inside the BMO Centre expansion for themselves can attend the Calgary Stampede’s Community Round Up event on June 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be tours of the expanded facility, a free pancake breakfast, live music, family-friendly activities and more.

 

Here’s a look inside the newly expanded BMO Centre

Photo by Chris Landry.

The ribbon cutting ceremony at the BMO Centre expansion’s grand opening event.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

BMO Centre guests can congregate in The Exchange area, which has a stage, a 70-foot-tall fireplace, a bar and a skylight that lets in plenty of natural light.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Another view of The Exchange area inside the expanded BMO Centre.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

The Exchange Bar offers refreshments for guests.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

When entering the bookable Brand Room, be sure to check out the doors, which feature polished black leather adorned with the Calgary stitch from local company Alberta Boot.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Spanning 3,000 square feet, the Brand Room is available for event bookings and opens onto a 11,000-square-foot patio that is also bookable.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

The patio overlooks the 100,000-square-foot outdoor plaza. It’s partially covered by the building’s curved canopy, which is 170-feet long and has 1,500 programmable LED lights underneath it that can create light shows.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

The new Percheron Ballroom (which gets its name from a draft horse breed) is 20,000 square feet and can be divided into nine separate areas if needed. The space has multiple rigging points and is free of columns and chandeliers, which makes the space more flexible and functional for different kinds of events.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Coming in at 50,000 square feet, the Champions Ballroom is the facility’s largest ballroom space. The column-free room, which can be divided into two spaces if needed, can fit 3,000 seated guests or 5,000 standing guests and has a huge Jumbotron screen overlooking the room. The ballroom windows look out at the Big Four building, the surrounding neighbourhood and even the mountains in the distance (on a clear day).

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Inside the main-floor lobby of the expanded BMO centre.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Look for this “Neon Cowboy” art piece by the concierge desk in the main-floor lobby. The piece was inspired by a painting with neon lights that used to be on the Stampede Corral building, which is where the BMO Centre expansion now sits. Laser measurements were taken of the original art so it could be recreated in the expanded BMO Centre later on.

 

Photo by Chris Landry.

Located in the outdoor plaza, “Spirit of Water” is a new public art sculpture that U.K. artist Gerry Judah created out of 200 vertical steel tubes.

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