New North takes FLIGHTS

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - KATHY MCCORMICK CAL­GARY HER­ALD

Amixed-use com­plex in the north­east called Flights is well-grounded in sound plan­ning prin­ci­ples, says its de­vel­oper.

And it has al­ready taken off, with the de­sign re­cently cap­tur­ing one of the Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards.

“We’re call­ing the area the New North,” says Peter Ziri­ada, vice-pres­i­dent of the 7S Group.

“It is close to em­ploy­ment cen­tres that are planned or are al­ready in place, the LRT has been ap­proved for ex­pan­sion to the area, and there are recre­ation cen­tres and shop­ping nearby.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to work with the city on cre­at­ing sus­tain­able sub­urbs. As of to­day, there are no real tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ments in the outer com­mu­ni­ties of the city and this op­por­tu­nity is ex­cit­ing to see.”

Be­fore join­ing the pri­vate sec­tor, Ziri­ada worked as a plan­ner with the City of Cal­gary for nearly three decades.

Flights is in the com­mu­nity of Sad­dleridge on six hectares that pre­vi­ously con­tained an old red barn.

The land was des­ig­nated as a sin­gle-fam­ily site, “but we chal­lenged that a year and a half ago,” says Kis­han Ga­j­jar, vice-pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment for 7S.

It will now have up­wards of 20 build­ings by com­ple­tion, with more than 1,000 peo­ple liv­ing in the de­vel­op­ment. The in­creased den­sity meant the chance to do some­thing unique — some­thing that was in line with the city’s re­cent Plan It Cal­gary doc­u­ment, which will guide trans­porta­tion and plan­ning in the city for the next 60 years.

Plan It is aimed at cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ties with more peo­ple liv­ing in them, as well as ones with less de­pen­dence on cars for trans­porta­tion.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Ziri­ada. “We need to kick-start this type of de­vel­op­ment in the sub­urbs and make it stand out.”

The com­pany first en­listed the help of Bev San­dalack, prin­ci­pal of the San­dalack and As­so­ci­ates con­sult­ing firm and pro­fes­sor of ur­ban de­sign at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary.

From there, 7S Group hired Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture, an award-winning team that helped de­sign such projects as the in­nercity com­mu­nity of The Bridges in Bridge­land, north of the Cal­gary Zoo.

“We have an ex­cit­ing ar­chi­tec­tural firm on board to help us come up with some­thing fresh and con­tem­po­rary,” says Ziri­ada. “It’s the new way for the New North.”

Jeremy Sturgess, prin­ci­pal of Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture, sees the new de­vel­op­ment as a sign of the fu­ture.

“The de­sign and den­sity of the sub­urbs here will ap­peal to peo­ple and it will be some­where they will want to live,” he says.

“There has been a huge gap in this type of com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially among the South Asian pop­u­la­tion who are used to this type of liv­ing. It will be ap­peal­ing for ev­ery sub­urb be­cause it will have ev­ery kind of hous- ing for ev­ery de­mo­graphic.

“This type of den­sity will ap­peal to peo­ple who are used to liv­ing in a vi­brant, dense com­mu­nity.”

Cal­gary is “de­vel­op­ing ethno-graphic ar­eas — and the build­ings have to fit the con­text of the peo­ple liv­ing there, not just the place,” says Sturgess,

Flights will have as many as 90 to 100 units per acre (0.4 hectares) once it’s builtout — and a large amount of green space for peo­ple to en­joy at the same time.

Four of the six hectares will be ded­i­cated to multi-fam­ily hous­ing, with the re­main­der be­ing green space.

“It’s peo­ple-ori­ented,” says Ziri­ada. “It’s walk­a­ble and ac­ces­si­ble, with neigh­bour­hood nodes that have den­sity and com­mer­cial mixed.”

Lo­cated at 52nd Street N.E. and 84th Av­enue, the com­plex will have an ur­ban plaza at the cen­tre where build­ings ra­di­ate out­ward from it and path­ways con­nect to each other and out­side the com­mu­nity.

“It’s all about be­ing pedes­trian-friendly,” says Sturgess.

“The front door or re­tail will be on the street, with back al­leys with live/work units. The units, them­selves, will not be typ­i­cal of apart­ments but will be de­signed to be flex­i­ble, in­ter­est­ing spa­ces.”

The first build­ing called LAX, for ex­am­ple, will con­tain 72 units and nine live/work units, with the main floor of the rest of the build­ing ded­i­cated to com­mer­cial.

De­signed in a U-shape, the apart­ment units in LAX will each have doors fac­ing the in­ner court­yard and win­dows back and front for ven­ti­la­tion and light, al­low­ing for con­nec­tiv­ity of neigh­bours, says Ga­j­jar.

“This will give the peo­ple liv­ing there a sense of com­mu­nity. It also cre­ates se­cu­rity and safety in a com­mu­nity where peo­ple know each other. It works on a so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal level.”

By “ break­ing open the corridor” by putting it on the out­side — with ev­ery unit hav­ing not only a front door, but an “out­door front porch” — units will be “rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” says Sturgess. “They will be rel­a­tively low-cost, but at­trac­tive and flex­i­ble.”

With win­dows at front and back, the de­signs of in­di­vid­ual suites will be unique, yet still pri­vate, he says.

“We have spe­cial screen­ing in place (on bal­conies and cor­ri­dors that face the in­ner court­yard) that will cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion of units, al­low­ing pri­vacy without block­ing light and views.”

Bed­room win­dows are up higher so light still comes in but pri­vacy is main­tained. Liv­ing room ceil­ings are 10-feet high for added spa­cious­ness.

LAX will be a con­crete build­ing, as will the oth­ers planned for the area. All will be seven or eight storeys in height.

“This is a life­style de­vel­op­ment where peo­ple live, work and shop,” says Ziri­ada. “It’s sus­tain­able and a commu- nity within a com­mu­nity.”

The de­vel­op­ment will “give com­plex­ity to the north­east,” says Sturgess. “We’re build­ing a city, not just the sub­urbs, and this will show the city the vi­sion for Plan It can work.”

Mar­ket­ing for LAX will start in the new year, with constructi­on set for spring of 2010 and first move-ins by the fall of 2011.

The sec­ond build­ing, YYC, will start mar­ket­ing in the fall.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit

Cour­tesy, Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture

An artist’s ren­der­ing of Flights, a mixed-use project in the north­east.

Cour­tesy, Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture

The ‘peo­ple-ori­ented’ Flights de­vel­op­ment aims to be a sign of the fu­ture for Cal­gary.

Dean Bick­nell, Cal­gary Her­ald

From left, Peter Ziri­ada of 7S Group and Jeremy Sturgess of Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture.

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