As a result of the strong response to this blog, I have add some additional projects which have been suggested to me that further position Calgary as one of North America's leading "Design" cities.
Recently I was reviewing my collection of photos of urban places and spaces in Calgary and began to realize that over the past 10 years Cowtown has become home to some pretty amazing and diverse new urban design projects. There are several major projects that have definitely raised the bar with respect to urban design. The diversity of the projects also impressed me - hospitals / office / bridges / parks / riverwalks / parkades / art galleries / underpasses / private homes. I have not even touched on public art, which will be a future blog.
However, not everyone agrees with me that Calgary's design standards have been elevated especially when it come to office buildings. While working on this blog a colleague told me when it comes to office buildings they still tend to be short and rectangular. He is disappointed that Calgary has none of the interesting computer generated shapes that we are seeing in places like Dubai.
Another colleague, who has brought major international investors to the city to look a development opportunities shared with me confidentially that these investors are underwhelmed by the sense of place we have created so far. I am thinking that will have to wait for its own blog - "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" of urban design in Calgary. You can't please everyone.
While it is hard for Calgary to compete with non-democratic governed cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore or Shanghai, where the economics and planning rules are totally different, I believe we can compete with other North American cities for the quality of our urban design, especially over the past 10 years or so. I think Calgary is ready to be placed on the international map of architectural tourism cities.
While we may not have the "Wild, Weird & Wacky" architecture that some cities have, I believe we have moved away from the pioneer prairie pragmatism of the past. I am not sure there is an emerging Calgary school of design yet. However I do see a trend emerging with the introduction of the subtle use of bold colours in many of the new condos and smaller office buildings as well as the bridges. Colour seems to be the accent pillow for Calgary's urban designers.
Some of Calgary's new "Design" buildings have been created by signature architects from around the world, while others have been done by our local design community. I thought it would be interesting to put together a photo essay of Calgary in the early 21st century.
Be sure to read to the end as I have placed Calgary's most controversial and perhaps its most challenging urban design project near the end.
Is Calgary ready to become an "design destination" for tourists and students of architecture and urban design? Some would say it is premature. However, I think one could easily spend several days exploring Cowtown's new urban design sensibility. I have not even touched on our public art or our public spaces, nor have I looked at our new condos. And then there is also the gems of the past and our two historical Main Streets Stephen Avenue Walk and Inglewood. Yes, I believe Calgary is ready for those urban explorers! And just to prove it I have a few more fun / funky cowtown urban design gems to share with you!