New North takes FLIGHTS
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 www.7SGroup.com.
An artist’s rendering of Flights, a mixed-use project in the northeast.
The ‘people-oriented’ Flights development aims to be a sign of the future for Calgary.
From left, Peter Ziriada of 7S Group and Jeremy Sturgess of Sturgess Architecture.