Calgary is a city in west Alberta. It is flanked by the Bow River and the Elbow River in the South with the Canadian Rockies on the East. Calgary owes its rapid growth and development, which lead to its beautiful skyline, the oil industry. It is now home to Canada’s second largest number of corporate head offices with numerous skyscrapers. However, it is still immersed in the western culture of prairies and foothills which gave the city its nickname: “Cowtown”. 

1. Studio Bell Cultural Center

Studio Bell is a major state-of-the-art cultural center that is home to the National Music Center, which is a first of its kind in North America. Designed by Allied Works Architects, the curvature in its form is inspired by the free flow of musical notes and instruments, as well as, from the indigenous landscape of Calgary. 

The building facilitates every musical journey from recording, editing, performing, exhibiting, and educational spaces. The building has distinct vessels which are bound together by the interwoven structure and envelope of metal and earthen tile, crafting wonders of light, space, and music. 

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2. Calgary Central Library 

Designed by Snøhetta, it is sited on top of a fully functional Light Rail Transit Line. The main entrance is lifted over the line through sloped terraces, opening up the building in all directions. The entrance hence acts as a bridge that rejuvenates the connection between the two neighborhoods while providing for visual and pedestrian access across the site. 

Organized on a range from fun to serious, the library programs increase their sense of privacy vertically. Transitioning from multi-purpose rooms on the ground floor that enhance the inside-outside flow of the building, to quiet study and research areas on the uppermost levels, the library provides an integrated, inclusive place for citizens across all age groups.

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3. Shane Homes, Recreation and wellness center

Inspired by rolling hills and layered horizons, GEC Architecture created a space that constantly connects to the site and surroundings, allowing the users to flourish in a vibrant environment. Typically, wellness centers segregate each programmatic function, but the intent here was to create an inclusive and healthy environment for the users. 

Hence, adding to the inside-outside connection of the building through extensive glazing, there are joggers track around the perimeter of the public concourse and a free flow of spaces with extensive connectivity of activities with one another. 

The curved timber roof is not only a sustainable choice of material, but its prominent use throughout the facility helps reiterate the concept of inclusivity. 

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4. Telus Sky

Calgary is a rapidly growing cosmopolitan city with numerous skyscrapers. One of them being Bjarke Ingels Group’s Telus Sky tower. The tower accommodates office blocks on the lower floors and residences on the upper floors, this is said to have dictated the curvature in the form of the tower. It transitions from flushed, shiny glass facades for the offices to protruding balconies for the apartments. 

The building was constructed, replacing the demolished Art Central Building and hence, the ground floor of the tower incorporates a gallery to flaunt the exhibits of artists, as well as some retail. The amalgamation of these three types of programs adds character and life to the typical mundane corporate offices. 

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5. The Bow 

Foster+Partners designed a valiant new landmark on the skyline of Calgary. The form of the building was derived by climate responsive design analysis: the tower curves towards the south to maximize the heat and daylight received by the building, all the while maximizing views of the Rocky Mountains for the office modules. 

The convex facade also cuts through the wind load and helps ease the load on the tall steel structure. The curvature in the facade is offset to create a series of atria that run through the length of the entire building. These serve as climatic buffers to help insulate and reduce the energy consumption of the building. The project has significant programmatic decisions as it does for design: the ground floor contains cafes, restaurants, and shops that spill out onto the large green plaza. 

The tower was built to promote collaboration and harmonize amongst various companies. Hence, the vertical circulation is executed through three sky gardens which project into the atria at various levels, creating shared meeting and catering spaces. 

Furthermore, the project also establishes lateral connections with neighboring buildings by infusing the tower at two points in the pedestrian enclosed walkways.  

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6. Calgary Tower 

Calgary Tower is a 190.8m freestanding observation tower that was built to commemorate the centennial year of 1967 in Canada. It was built to encourage the urban growth and development of Calgary which is now surrounded by skyscrapers creating the city’s mesmerizing skyline. 

The tower was made using a revolutionary technique of continuous pouring of concrete for 24 days which created the seamless 11,000 ton steel-reinforced concrete structure. The glass-floored viewing deck was added in 2005 to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. The 57mm thick, 18-panel glass structure weighs 220kilograms and was designed to hold the weight of two hippos.  

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7. Devonian Garden 

Devonian garden is a massive indoor park and botanical garden with over 550 trees, 20,000 plants, a green wall, koi ponds, a children’s play area, and sculptures by local artists, all designed as a part of a seasonal natural exhibition. 

The building now also has a shopping mall integrated within that redefines the nature of the experience of such a commercial activity among peace and natural beauty. 

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8. Winsport 

Winsport is a ski hill that was designed for the 1988 Winter Olympics. It is now used as a high-level training facility as well as for recreational use by the general public. It contains the largest tube park in all of Western Canada. The park is in close proximity to the village that includes food trailers, fire pits, washroom facilities, and retail. There is also a multipurpose hall in which large-scale private and public events are held from time to time. 

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9. Glenbow Museum 

Established in 1966 by philanthropist Eric Lafferty Harvie, Glenbow Museum is an art and history museum with the largest non-governmental research center for artists, historians, and writers in Canada. The library and archives contain information dating back to the 1870s documenting and preserving the economic, social, political, history of Western Canada. 

They have an extensive art collection comprising over 33,000 works dating back to the 19th century, predominantly of historical, modern, and contemporary work of North America, including works of Walter J. Phillips, Sybil Andrews, First Nations, and Inuit Art. However, the most stunning exhibit in the museum is the centerpiece hanging from the stairwell that takes the form of the Aurora Borealis. 

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10. The Military Museum 

Canada has a rich military history during World War I which is honored through this museum. Mirroring their active military service divided into individual regiments and branches of services, the museum is divided into eight distinct collections.  

The museum is more than just historical preservation but is curated to depict the social impact of the war through art like the mural made up of 240 individual images that depict important times during the military history of Canada. It is an interactive piece that allows one to know the story behind each image. 

Another one of the most intricate exhibits was the scaled replica of the trenches of the scenario of the war. In addition to these, the museum accommodates a library and archives curated by The Founders Gallery and the University of Calgary. 

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11. Saddledome Arena 

The Saddledome arena is named so because of its horse saddle-shaped roof. It is a mulit-purpose indoor area built in 1983 to be home to the National Hockey League: Calgary Flames. It hosted ice hockey and figure skating events at the 1988 Winter Olympics. 

The facility is now used to host concerts, exhibitions, conferences, other sporting, and public events. 

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12. Prehistoric Park and Zoo 

The Calgary Prehistoric Park and Zoo is not only a delight for children but adults as well. It contains scaled replicas of dinosaurs including 18 animatronic dinosaurs and a life-sized T.rex. 

A large number of the models are replicas from the Sinclair World of Dinosaurs’ 1964 World’s Fair. “Scientists and researchers actually reconstructed dinosaur skeletals with some skin and they blew air through them. That’s what taught us how a dinosaur would sound,” Roz Freeman, special events advisor at the zoo. 

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13. Prince’s Island Park 

Prince’s Island Park was named after Peter Anthony Prince, the founder of the Eau Claire Lumber Mill. He was a lumberman who came to Calgary from Quebec in 1886. The park holds a significant place in the urban-scape as it is an important cultural and recreational spot for the people of Calgary. 

It hosts many large-scale public events throughout the year including the Canada Day Celebration and Calgary Folk Festival. 

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14. Heritage Park Historical Village 

The Heritage Park is the largest living history museum and a unique venue to hold various facilities of different scales ranging from weddings to conferences to picnics and barbeques, throughout the year. It has replicas of magnificent details from a thundering steam train to an antique midway ride to beautiful heritage homes of Calgary. 

It has hundreds of exhibits, rides, restaurants, gift shops, and daily activities and demonstrations to revive the rich culture and heritage of the past. 

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15. Day trip to Banff 

Banff is a town situated in close proximity to Calgary and is a must-visit for the most stunning picturesque views of Alberta. It has a National Park that is equipped to conduct numerous outdoor activities including skiing, canoeing, bird watching, hiking, cycling, etc. 

It has natural beauty spots like Lake Louise, Lake Minnewanka, Mount Norquay, and Icefields Parkway. The Cave and the Basin are National Historic Sites and a marvel to visit. Along with which hot springs and the Banff Gondola cable rides are a stop to make along the way. 

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NECHAL MAGGON
Author

A fourth year architecture student from CEPT University, Nechal uses the literary world as a medium, to delve into every nook and cranny of architecture.

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