Rethinking 8 Street SW: The City calls upon design leaders to submit proposals

The City of Calgary is seeking proposals, until September 2022, from design firms specializing in urban public realm projects to reimagine 8 Street SW, between 17 Avenue SW and the Bow River. This neighbourhood corridor is a vital place that will be central to the re-invention of the western part of our downtown that has been the hardest hit by office vacancies. It is also an important connector between the Beltline and the Bow River pathway system.

“It’s time to rethink 8 Street SW,” said Thom Mahler, Director, Downtown Strategy for The City of Calgary. ”Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan identified it as an important downtown street to transform into a complete street with accessibility for all modes of transportation and as a linchpin of The City’s goal to create a green network of tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets connecting downtown’s diverse neighbourhoods and inventory of parks, outdoor spaces and pathways.”

The 8 Street SW Public Realm Improvement Project is an update of the 8 Street Corridor Public Realm Master Plan, completed in 2016 that included the reconstruction of the 8 Street underpass. Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan, approved by City Council in 2021, identifies public realm improvements to 8 Street SW as a priority. It highlights the street’s importance as a potential green network, a pedestrian-focused space, and a neighbourhood hub in Calgary’s Downtown West and Beltline.  

The City’s vision for 8 Street SW is to create a contemporary, pedestrian focused urban destination area with a distinct identity that connects people, parks and neighbourhoods, supported by vibrant retail experiences, and a variety of transportation modes. This investment will support private investment along the street and create a high-quality north-south pedestrian route from 17 Avenue SW to the river.

“A lot has changed since the 8 Street Corridor Public Realm Master Plan was developed, with the westside of Calgary’s downtown changing significantly since 2016,” said Shannon Reid, project manager for the 8 Street SW Public Realm Improvement Project. “We’re excited to launch this project to help shape the future of downtown and support community vibrancy in this important downtown neighbourhood.”

The objective of the 8 Street SW project is to execute the planning, design, and implementation of the remaining public realm improvements identified in the 8 Street Corridor Public Realm Master Plan – including the redevelopment of the streetscape and adjoining riverfront park. 

Through a request for proposal (RFP) process The City is looking for a team to spark creativity and innovation in public realm design.

The RFP can be viewed here.