Two Calgary design projects win national awards of excellence

The City of Calgary’s work on projects revitalizing Stephen Avenue and transforming a contaminated gravel pit into a stunning green space with stormwater wetlands are national design award winners.

The City’s Future of Stephen Avenue project has been recognized with the 2021 Award of Excellence for planning and analysis by the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA). And Dale Hodges Park, located along the northern banks of the Bow River, has won the overall Jury’s Award of Excellence for large-scale public landscape — given to the project that best demonstrate CSLA’s vision of advancing the art, science and practice of landscape architecture.

This year, 14 projects were selected as winners by a national jury of landscape architects from a total of 72 submissions. “These award-winning projects are preeminent examples of Canadian landscape architecture. They illustrate the range of what landscape architects do and how landscape architects are helping to reshape our communities by defining the places where we live, work and play,” states the news release from CSLA.


Dale Hodges Park

Dale Hodges Parkdesigned in collaboration with Calgary-based Sans façon, and landscape architecture and engineering consultants O2 Planning + Design, Source 2 Source and AECOMis now a 40-hectare living artwork. This park is a unique collaboration between our Parks, Water and Public Art departments and is both a public park and a stormwater treatment facility that creates diverse habitats for local flora and fauna. Located on the northern banks of the Bow River on a former gravel pit it is among the first of its kind in North America.

The 100-acre site is located west of Market Mall along the Bow River, home of the former Klippert gravel pit. As part of The City’s commitment to building a healthy and green city, the land was acquired in 2010 to restore the ecological integrity of the area, while at the same time enhancing its recreational and educational value for Calgarians. Dale Hodges Park includes stormwater wetlands, wildlife habitat, recreational trails for cycling and walking, and lookout points across the scenic river valley.

The park was designed to capture, slow and filter stormwater from eight surrounding northwest communities on its journey back to the Bow. Stormwater can carry sediments and contaminants from roads and pathways, and can pollute the river, impacting water quality for fish, animals, birds, plants, and people. The design highlights the natural and man-made processes involved in stormwater management.

“The project is one of kind,” said David Harrison, Project Lead for Calgary Parks. “Typically stormwater’s source, route, and where it goes are either unapparent or largely invisible in our cities while stormwater ponds are often considered an inconvenient infrastructure necessity. At Dale Hodges Park, stormwater was drawn to the surface and viewed as an opportunity to create a unique park and provide valuable habitats,” he said.

Details about the project can be found here.

Future of Stephen Avenue

Stephen Avenue is Calgary’s iconic downtown main street. Its success is inextricably linked to the success of our downtown. It provides a wide array of amenities to downtown office workers, residents, local visitors and tourists who visit to dine, shop, play and enjoy the many arts and culture offerings available on any given day.

In recent times, Stephen Avenue has encountered some challenges that are making it less vibrant than it once was. In some ways these challenges mirror those faced by Calgary’s downtown more broadly due to a decline in the downtown workforce; an increase in office, retail and hospitality vacancies; an increasing concern from citizens and business owners that the physical condition of the avenue is in declines as it approaches the end of its usable lifecycle.

The City is embarking on an exciting journey to reimagine Stephen Avenue and position it for a renewed era of success. As a flagship project for Calgary’s Downtown Strategy, The Future of Stephen Avenue project provides a foundation for The City to collaborate with stakeholders to consider and implement strategic improvements — whether near, medium or longer term — that will reposition Stephen Avenue and ensure its future as Calgary’s hallmark downtown main street.

Project manager Michael Magnan says the award recognition is a high honour. “We have a great team dynamic between The City, the Calgary Downtown Association and our project consultants Gehl, Stantec and James Lima Planning + Development. We were committed from day one to create a strong vision for the Future of Stephen Avenue. Winning an award from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects is recognition from our peers that we’ve done something special. For me personally, as a lifelong Calgarian and a landscape architect, it’s a huge honour to have the opportunity to lead this project on behalf of a city that I love.”

Details about the project can be found here.