The Best of Urban Design in Calgary

Design, architecture and landscaping are an important aspect of great cities. Well-designed spaces are typically the most welcoming, sustainable, safe and accessible. To highlight the importance of good design the City of Calgary holds the biennal Mayor’s Urban Design Awards (MUDA). The 2013 winners were announced on November 6 and…

Design, architecture and landscaping are an important aspect of great cities. Well-designed spaces are typically the most welcoming, sustainable, safe and accessible. To highlight the importance of good design the City of Calgary holds the biennal Mayor’s Urban Design Awards (MUDA).

The 2013 winners were announced on November 6 and represent design ideas, recently completed projects and new ones that are still taking shape.

Conceptual/Theoretical Urban Design Projects

Photograph by

Building Iconomy: Possibilities for a Brutalist Building by d.talks Calgary & Nyhoff Architecture Inc

d.talks provide a forum to have a conversation about design and the built environment in Calgary. On September 5, 2013, d.talks hosted an event called “Building Iconomy: Possibilities for a Brutalist Building” to examine brutalist architecture in Calgary and the possibilities these buildings present. A prime example of this is the former Catholic Board of Education building that stands five storeys tall in the middle of a site that is slated for redevelopment. d.talks spent a month examining how the building can be adapted and preserved in future plans.

For more information visit or like d.talks on Facebook

Approved or Adopted Urban Design Plans

Rendering courtesy of cSPACE Projects

King Edward Arts Hub & Incubator by Nyhoff Architecture Inc with Ferrari Westwood Babits Architects and O2 Planning + Design Inc.

The King Edward School is being repurposed and transformed into an arts Incubator. It will include space for administrative tasks; production, display and maintenance of art and culture activities; instruction and rehearsal space; and retail, banquet, educational and live performance uses. Midcentury additions will be removed and replaced with a four-storey addition. One-storey studio spaces and a laneway will also be incorporated into the design.

1720 30 Avenue S.W.. For more information visit

Urban Architecture

Image courtesy of Homes by Avi

Olive by Homes by Avi – Urban, Sturgess Architecture. Landscape design by George Harris.

This Bridgeland complex includes 27 townhome units, five commercial spaces, a private mews and an underground parkade. Olive showcases contemporary design and “pushed the boundaries of multi-family townhome development in Calgary and now is a vibrant community where residents live, work and play.”

119 9A Street N.E.. For more information visit

Image courtesy of Encana

The Bow by Foster + Partners with Zeidler Architects Partnership and Sturgess Architecture. Landscape design by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

The Bow has quickly become one of Calgary’s most iconic buildings. At 236 metres The Bow is now the tallest building in Calgary. The skyscrapper was designed with sustainability in mind. The convex faces into the wind minimizing the amount of steel needed. The design of the glazed faade reduces the amount of energy needed to heat the building by as much as 30 per cent. The Bow serves as the headquarters of Encana.

500 Centre Street S.E.

Civic Design Projects

Photograph by Tom Arban

EEEL (Energy, Environment, Experiential Learning) by DIALOG & Perkins + Will. Landscape Design by O2 Planning + Design.

The EEEL is a new undergraduate and teaching facility on the edge of the University of Calgary campus. The five-storey building was designed around a central staircase, which provides an abundance of natural light and student space. It includes classrooms, theatres, laboratories and research spaces. The building received a LEED Platinum Certification.

2500 University Drive N.W.. For more information, visit

Urban Fragments

Photograph courtesy of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. ‘SAMEWAYBETTER/READER’ by Ron Moppett as installed in East Village, Calgary.

East Village: Art in the Public Realm by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and Artists Julian Opie, Ron Moppett, Daniel Kirk, and Ivan Ostapenko

One of the most noticeable features of the East Village redevelopment is the proliferation of public art in the area. The presence of vibrant murals and installations is no mistake. Both the 2005 Area Redevelopment Plan and the 2009 Master Plan for East Village noted the importance of public art. Works in the area include “Promenade” by Julian Opie, a 24-foot four side tower with LED screens showing images of people walking and “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER,” a 110-foot long mosaic by Calgary artist Ron Moppett.

Esker Foundation Gallery by Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning

An Esker is “a long ridge of gravel and other sediment, typically having a winding course, deposited by meltwater from a retreating glacier or ice sheet.” The Esker Foundation Gallery took their name to heart while designing their gallery space. Visitors enter the gallery through a custom fibreglass portal that lets in light from multiple angles. The gallery itself is an open two-storey space with moveable walls. A steel catwalk leads visitors to “The Nest,” which serves as the consultation offices. “The Nest” was inspired by objects found in eskers and a desire to create something visually interesting for pedestrians on the street below.

1011 9 Avenue S.E.. For more information, visit

Community Improvement Projects

Photograph supplied by Matt Knapik

Day of Service – Victoria Park Business Revitalization Zone by Victoria Park Business Revitalization Zone together with the Faculty of Environmental Design at the U of C

On September 29, 2012, more than 75 students from the University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) volunteered to put their stamp on a pop-up park in Victoria Park. The park began as an effort to take a derelict construction site and turn it into a public asset. The EVDS volunteers added six custom-designed benches designed by Guy Gardner and Jason Johnson. Their work took place as part of the first annual Green Apple Day of Service.

Corner of 14 Avenue and 1 Street S.W.. For more information, visit

City Edge Development

Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility by GEC Architecture and Scatliff + Miller + Murray

The Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility will be so much more than your average recreation facility. Set on a 26.1 hectare site, the facility is designed to match the surrounding landscape including a hill that has the highest natural elevation in city limits as well as 3.03 hectares of wetlands. The project is aims to achieve LEED Gold standards.

11300 Rocky Ridge Rd. N.W.. For more information, visit

The Mawson Urban Design Award

Courtesy of Lighting Design Innovations

Lions Awaken: Relighting Centre St Bridge by Lighting Design Innovations

The four lions on Centre Street Bridge are some of the most iconic sculptures in Calgary. Until recently they were only visible during the day. During the redesign of the lighting on the Centre Street Bridge lights highlighting the lions were added. The old lights were also replaced with new environmentally friendly lights. The result is an energy saving of 104,113 kWh and annual saving of about 46 tons of CO2.

Great City, Great Design

Bridgeland Riverside Community Centre by Sturgess Architecture and Carlyle & Associates

Located in the heart of Bridgeland-Riverside with views of downtown and the river is the Community Centre. It was designed to integrate the design of the indoor facilities with the surrounding green space. A terrace looks out on the playing fields and meeting rooms of the lower level open onto the park. The corner of building is designed as a lantern that emanates warmth for park users.

917 Centre Avenue N.E.. For more information, visit

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