This architecture tour is in no particular order but go here first! As Calgary's iconic landmark, the Calgary Tower
provides a nostalgic guidepost in the downtown landscape. Think 1988 Olympic torch symbolism. The design features a mid-century aesthetic as it was designed and built between 1967 and 1968. Although many new, modern buildings are taller, and some might say 'more interesting,' I think the Calgary Tower is a gem worth visiting.
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre is an incredible piece of architecture with rich history through the restoration and integration of the King Edward Hotel, now known as the King Eddy. I recall hearing the architect, Brad Cloepfil, from Allied Works Architecture, talk about the handmade terra cotta tiles that make up the facade and the process and time that went into each tile. It's reminiscent of the intricate work of brick masons in the 1900s. Cloepfil designed the building for acoustic sound travel as you move upwards, with amazing organ music throughout. The NMC has something for the entire family.
The Central Library has become a significant hub for creativity, learning, and a place to connect. The building is an ode to the success of the design and planning by The City of Calgary, their partners, and the architect, Snøhetta. The effect of the Central Library will, in my opinion, send ripples through the design community for decades. I'm so proud to be a Calgarian and have the opportunity to humblebrag about this public icon. The fact that our kids, students, and visitors can enjoy this space gets me excited for Calgary's future. A breathtaking piece of architecture that you can enjoy from all sides and angles.
Calgarians have been patiently waiting to see the TELUS Sky building take shape. The building features an exterior lighting system that is the largest piece of public art in the city. Every story added seems to offer another tremendous viewshed and juxtaposition. BIG Architecture has done an excellent job. Go inside and check out the incredible living green wall while enjoying a coffee from the newly opened Deville Coffee on the main floor.
The Bow Building
I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Bow Building designed by Foster and Partners. Upon walking in, its immaculate double atrium for staff wowed me. The Bow is a private office building, but you can still marvel at the scale of this beautiful building from the street and walk through the giant head sculpture ‘Wonderland’ by artist Jaume Plensa. One of my favourites!
Historic City Hall
I recall walking in Historic City Hall roughly eight years ago for the first time to meet with a City Councillor and being in awe of its composition and beauty. Initially built in 1911, with gorgeous sandstone and wood, Old City Hall was recently immaculately rehabilitated. You can feel the energy and history pouring out of the building and imagine our city's foundational building.
Even though the Peace Bridge is not a building, it's too fantastic not to be on this list. One of my favourite places to take people and take in the exceptional composition of the bridge and views of the skyline and the masterful park across from it. In Calgary, this is one of the best places to grab a coffee or ice cream and people watch.
Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge
The Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge is a stunning building that seamlessly integrates into the unique prairie landscape. The mass timber interior is quite spectacular with its exposed beams throughout the library and pool. It’s an excellent place to take the family for a swim.\
University of Calgary Downtown Campus
The University of Calgary Downtown Campus is the least conspicuous of the ten on the list but I've always really enjoyed this project. The blackfish scale facade sets a fantastic tone on the corner, and when the parkade facade shimmers in the wind, it's quite cool. Great architecture is about outcomes and space, so having a downtown campus is also amazing!
cSPACE King Edward
One of my personal favourites, cSPACE King Edward started because a group of visionaries came together to deliver on heritage and unique new addition integration. What makes this space truly special is the creative exhibits, art, people, and culture it hosts. Grab a coffee, roam the halls, and check out some incredible art installations. It's truly a special place.