Note: I have received several emails and tweets supporting the ideas and comments in this blog. Thought I would share this one with you from architect Tom Tittemore which I think provides an informed perspective on the Island and East Village design and development.
TT writes: "Carol and I walked the upgraded St Patrick's Island yesterday - Sunday - and we concur with most of your observations. The public art piece is a clever amalgm of largely highway-scaled light fixtures, but we, as your blog noted, merely observed and walked on. However, I would like to see it at night to finalize my opinion. It may also perform better during cold, icy winter days. For us, the Island and George King Bridge, the River Walk, renovated Simmons Building, East Village etc., makes for a most pleasant stroll or powerwalk or bike ride …While New York has its Highline, I must say that the Island / River Walk makes great strides (that's a pun) towards a similar urban pedestrian experience that enables people to view the City with fresh eyes."
Blog: St. Patrick's Island: The Good, The Bad, The Nice To Have
It is with much anticipation that I have been waiting for St. Patrick’s Island to reopen. On July 31, 2015, after being closed for two years of renovations, St. Patrick’s Island opened again to the public just in time for the August long weekend to much fanfare.
For two-years before the closure, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) conducted a comprehensive public engagement process to determine what Calgarians wanted to see in their new urban park. Open houses, social media and an on-line survey collected ideas, which were clustered and prioritized for further public engagement to finalize the wish list.
CMLC’s call for proposals then went out to local and international landscape architect firms. Seventeen proposals were received and CMLC awarded the contract for the $20 million makeover to the joint team of New York-based W Architecture and Denver-based CIVITAS.
I love the mix of uses on the island. From quiet seating areas near the river to a hill with a fire pit on the top. From a children’s playground to pebble beach and wading pond. There is even a site-specific artwork.
Knowing one of the public’s requests was to keep the island as natural as possible, I was pleased to see many areas where the river, trees, shrubs and rocks have been left undisturbed.
There is also a welcoming sense of arrival, be that from the elegant George C. King Bridge on the west side or from the zoo parking lot on the east.
I was very impressed with the toboggan hill called The Rise, which was created in the middle of the island using soil from the reclaimed lagoon filled in during a previous renovation. The grass on The Rise was as lush as anything I have ever seen in Calgary. It was inviting people to just tumble down the hill – and some did! This would be a great site for a permanent “slip and slide,” allowing year-round use.
The children’s playground is not your cookie-cutter community playground that looks like it was built from a box of Crayola Crayons. While the slides are bright red, most of the equipment is wood. The wobbly low bridge seemed particularly popular with people of all ages.
Overall, I love the new St. Patrick’s Island and how it has been divided up into smaller public spaces for different interests and uses.