Located in the heart of Calgary's central business district, the CORE is a prime example of an ambitious urban renewal project with the goal of uniting three disjointed properties into a single multi-use urban complex with best-in-class fashion retailers. It amalgamates three buildings into one branded retail destination with a cohesive identity. On an architectural level, a seamless connection is created between the urban exterior and the high street interior. Under a canopy of structural glass, the largest of its kind in North America, visitors relish a vibrant streetscape experience awash in natural light. The expansive glass roof emulates outdoor plazas and promenades, distinguishing itself with high street retail energy.
The impetus for the major redevelopment was the owners' recognition of the deteriorating tenant mix and the need to improve it. Retail tenants and common areas were dated and losing market share while the downtown office population and residential market base were both growing. Despite the centre's less-than-stellar tenant mix, the two key fashion anchors, Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen, were both bursting at the seams and looking for expansion opportunities. With creative merchandise mix solutions, the leasing and management teams were able to optimise the opportunities for Holts and Harry Rosen by relocating one and expanding the other, thereby securing long-term commitments from them, who in turn acted as magnets for other best-in-class fashion retailers to join the tenant mix.
One of the main project objectives was to improve sightlines throughout the property and increase the visibility of the retailers. Within one of the buildings, the escalators were perpendicular to the retail concourse in a crisscross pattern closing off sightlines and creating darkness and shadows in its wake. This was addressed by entirely removing the existing escalators and installing a new set of escalators oriented parallel to the storefronts, thereby opening sightlines. Other characteristics of the project that enhance sightlines are the new generous well openings in the floor slabs and surrounding clear glass balustrades affording visitors on the ground and first levels with magnificent views of the soaring tenant storefronts on the upper levels, the towering skyscrapers beyond the glass roof and the vegetation from the Devonian Gardens on the uppermost level. In addition, the well openings allow natural light to cascade down to the lower level, where prior to the renovation, this level was characterised by low oppressive ceilings.