Silver is the new brown...

James Forryan
Thursday 05 Nov 2009

New aluminium-clad office forms part of transforming Calgary industrial site

Designed by Sturgess Architecture with Manasc Isaac Architects and completed in October 2007, The Water Centre is the redevelopment of a brownfield industrial yard into a civic operational and administrative centre. The building was designed to increase staff interaction of two formerly separate departments. It provides open office stations for all staff, regardless of status, meeting and quiet rooms, conference facilities, meter testing and crew changing. Although the building systems and building envelope are state-of-the-art, finishes and structural layout are simple and the narrow floor-plate optimises daylight, views and access to operable windows for all workspaces.

The project’s juxtaposed industrial / residential context demanded a dynamic yet sensitive response to the site. The building follows the curve of the road (a former rail line), providing an urban edge on the site’s north side. The bisecting operational wing denotes a change in grade, exploited to enhance the separation between fleet and administrative functions. The new building and park improve the neighbourhood, providing much needed open space and an urban face to a transforming industrial site.

On the south, the roof overhang shields the workspaces from direct sunlight while on the north edge, double-height studio windows address the city skyline. The placement of the central stair and overlooking landings along the four storey atrium promotes communication and interaction. The clarity of the section provides the occupant a definitive understanding of where they are in the building.

The stakeholder process included both the surrounding residential community and building occupants. Staff participated in a series of workshops to develop the site, building form and internal plans.The industrial quality of the galvanised aluminum cladding is tempered by its ability to reflect Calgary’s ever-changing light. The green / blue pattern of the curtain-wall glass on the south echoes the shimmering of water and is appreciated from within the atrium as well as from outside.

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