City hon­ours condo con­cept

Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards cel­e­brate Olive by Avi Ur­ban

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - CLAIRE YOUNG

When it came to the tallest sky­scraper in Cal­gary and an in­no­va­tive condo project, the com­pe­ti­tion was so fierce that the Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards had to give an ex­tra prize.

The City of Cal­gary com­mis­sioned an ex­tra bronze statue in the Ur­ban Ar­chi­tec­ture cat­e­gory from Can­more artist Tony Bloom so it could hon­our The Bow — a build­ing that has re­de­fined Cal­gary’s sky­line — as well as Olive, a town­home com­plex by Avi Ur­ban in The Bridges that is help­ing to re­de­fine how peo­ple can live and work in one space.

This year, 11 Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards were pre­sented in a to­tal of 10 cat­e­gories at a re­cent cer­e­mony at SAIT Polytech­nic.

“The jury was adamant that in Ur­ban Ar­chi­tec­ture, they would give two win­ners,” says David Down, a se­nior city ar­chi­tect and ur­ban de­signer who runs the awards pro­gram that is held ev­ery two years.

“They liked the fact that the two win­ners rep­re­sented two ends of the de­sign in­dus­try. One was the Bow and the other was Olive.”

The jury ap­pre­ci­ated Olive for be­ing a type of ar­chi­tec­ture that isn’t yet preva­lent in Cal­gary. It of­fers live/work units that in­volve town­homes above of­fice space, al­low­ing peo­ple to re­side above their busi­nesses.

“It ad­dressed this idea about new kinds of multi-fam­ily in the in­ner city and they liked that a lot,” says Down.

Olive was de­signed by Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture and built by Avi Ur­ban, the multi-fam­ily di­vi­sion of Homes by Avi. It was one of the first build­ings in The Bridges, a city-led re­de­vel­op­ment of the land once oc­cu­pied by the de­mol­ished Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in the in­ner-city com­mu­nity of Bridge­land.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi is an ad­mirer of the Olive de­vel­op­ment.

“I love that build­ing. I very nearly bought a unit in there be­fore it was done,” he says.

“The only rea­son I didn’t buy it was be­cause it was slightly out­side of my price range at the time — and, of course, I’m com­pletely kick­ing my­self. Once the build­ing was com­pleted, that same unit was put on the mar­ket for al­most dou­ble what I could have got­ten it for a year and a half ear­lier.”

It’s not just a great real es­tate deal, it’s the real deal for new ways of liv­ing and work­ing, says Nen­shi.

“It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary build­ing,” he says. “The re­ally in­no­va­tive part of it is the live/ work as­pect of it, as well as the ac­tual de­sign of the units. They’re like town­houses in a con­do­minium com­plex.

“It’s very unique and I’m a huge, huge fan of it. It was very in­no­va­tive for the time and I’d like to see more of it.”

The Bow, which is within eye­sight of Olive, is an in­dis­putable Cal­gary land­mark.

“This jury felt it set a new bar for high­rise of­fice ar­chi­tec­ture in Cal­gary, as well as the at­ten­tion to de­tail in the pub­lic realm and the qual­ity of the pub­lic art,” says Down.

The jury was made up of five peo­ple — no one from the City of Cal­gary — in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from ar­chi­tec­ture, land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture, me­dia, pub­lic art, and this year, a doc­tor who works in pub­lic health.

The awards were launched in 2005 due to an ini­tia­tive by the Royal Ar­chi­tec­tural In­sti­tute of Canada, which asked mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to choose lo­cal win­ners who would then com­pete in the Na­tional Ur­ban De­sign Awards.

“I re­ally like this pro­gram be­cause it re­ally show­cases some of the ex­cel­lent work that is go­ing on in ar­chi­tec­ture, ur­ban de­sign and land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture in our com­mu­nity,” says Nen­shi. “I’m hope­ful that the awards can be used in a way to en­gage peo­ple more in the con­ver­sa­tion about great de­sign.”

The city’s Mu­nic­i­pal De­vel­op­ment Plan talks in terms of ur­ban de­sign ex­cel­lence, which is a rather vague term.

The award win­ners pro­vide ex­am­ples of what such ex­cel­lence is, says Down.

Seven of the categ0orie­s progress to the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, while three cat­e­gories have been added to spe­cially hon­our Cal­gary projects: the Maw­son Ur­ban De­sign Award, the City Edge De­vel­op­ment Award, and the Great City, Great De­sign Award.

The Maw­son Ur­ban De­sign Award is named for Bri­tish town plan­ner Thomas Maw­son. Circa 1913, he drew up the Maw­son Plan, a mas­sive re­de­vel­op­ment pro­posal that would have seen Cal­gary be­come a Paris of the prairies, in­clud­ing huge boule­vards.

The end of the city’s f i rst real es­tate boom and the ad­vent of the First World War meant the plan was never re­al­ized, but the striv­ing for ex­cel­lence rep­re­sented by such city- fo­cused projects i s re­mem­bered i n the Maw­son Award.

“For us, that’s an im­por­tant award, as it speaks to the jury as what is em­blem­atic of what is a ‘Cal­gary’ project,” says Down.

This year, the Li­ons Awaken: Re­light­ing Cen­tre Street Bridge won the award.

Ju­ror Trevor Boddy, a critic and cu­ra­tor of ar­chi­tec­ture from Van­cou­ver who gave the keynote speech at the awards pre­sen­ta­tion, was thrilled to see the li­ons take cen­tre stage, says Down.

“He was quite taken by the fact that of the el­e­ments pro­posed in the Maw­son Plan, re­ally, the Cen­tre Street Bridge was the only thing that was built ac­cord­ing to the plan — and here we were giv­ing it the Maw­son Award,” says Down.

“It’s a re­ally great project be­cause of the way it high­lights the ar­chi­tec­ture of the bridge. It brings new at­ten­tion to one of our great his­toric ameni­ties.”

The Great City, Great De­sign award is new this year.

“Our new city man­ager, Rollin Stan­ley, is re­ally in­ter­ested in how com­mu­ni­ties can be de­signed to pro­mote healthy liv­ing and healthy life­styles,” says Down.

“We had more sub­mis­sions in this cat­e­gory than any other cat­e­gory.”

Eight of the 47 to­tal sub­mis­sions were made in the Great City, Great De­sign award cat­e­gory, which was won by the Bridge­land River­side Com­mu­nity Cen­tre de­signed by ar­chi­tect Jeremy Sturgess of Sturgess Ar­chi­tec­ture.

He was in­volved in cre­at­ing the mas­ter plan for The Bridges com­mu­nity, and has de­signed pieces of it, in­clud­ing Olive and the cur­rent condo project, Steps Bridge­land.

The jury felt the cen­tre “func­tioned par­tic­u­larly well as an un­der­stated com­mu­nity land­mark,” says Down.

“It opens re­ally beau­ti­fully to the park. It’s well used all the time, and it has the green roof and sus­tain­able de­sign as­pects.”

The City Edge De­vel­op­ment Award em­pha­sizes to all of the build­ing and de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try that the Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards are not fo­cused ex­clu­sively on down­town projects; in­stead, it’s about Cal­gary as a whole.

The win­ner in this cat­e­gory was the city’s Rocky Ridge Recre­ation Fa­cil­ity, which will con­tain about 300,000 square feet of space. It will be in the mid­dle of a nat­u­ral park with views of the moun­tains.

Pro­posed ameni­ties in­clude ice rinks, along with a pool, gym­na­sium, li­brary, the­atre, art stu­dio and ex­hi­bi­tion space.

“This is a neat ex­am­ple for how you can use pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture to re­ally set a tone for a com­mu­nity for the qual­ity they ex­pect and they de­serve,” says Nen­shi.

“That par­tic­u­lar fa­cil­ity is go­ing to be much loved.”

This year, the awards were held in a larger space and were free to the pub­lic. Nen­shi hoped this would en­cour­age more peo­ple to be­come in­volved.

“This is about all of the work we do to build and de­velop the city,” he says. “I love that de­sign is tak­ing the fore­front, whether we’re look­ing at brand-new sub­ur­ban de­vel­op­ments or in­nercity re­vi­tal­iza­tion and ev­ery­thing in-be­tween.” [email protected]­ALD.COM. TWIT­TER. COM/ CALHERALDH­OMES. FACE­BOOK. COM/ CALHERALDH­OMES.

Cour­tesy, Mike Hey­wood Stu­dio 1826

The Bow tower, tow­er­ing at left, and the light­ing of the Cen­tre Street Bridge, in the fore­ground, were both hon­oured at this year’s award for ur­ban de­sign.

Cal­gary Her­ald/Files

The Bridge­land-River­side Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion build­ing was hon­oured at the Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards.

Claire Young, Cal­gary Her­ald

An ex­tra award was given at the Mayor’s Ur­ban De­sign Awards so both the Olive live/work town­home com­plex, above, and The Bow tower could be hon­oured.

Rollin Stan­ley

Trevor Boddy

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