Award Winner - May/June 2006
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Going for the Gold, Again

Cardel Place
Calgary, Alberta

S U B M I T T E D    B Y:

Cannon Design/Gibbs Gage Architects

Size: 195,000 square feet

Total Project cost: $26 million

Quick tour:

  • Fitness and weight room
  • Multi-component aquatic facility
  • Three gymnasiums
  • Two NHL-size arenas
  • Calgary Public Library
  • Community meeting rooms and offices
  • Birthday party room
  • Community kitchen
  • Pro shop
  • Sports medicine clinic
  • Child-minding services
  • Food services
  • Physiotherapy clinic

When you build a recreation center in a town tapped as the world's best city for healthy living—and a past Winter Olympic host—the extra pressure is unavoidable.

Fortunately, the designers of Calgary's Cardel Place were up to the challenge."Everyone rose from the pressure," General Manager Sue Scott says. "We got what everyone wanted to achieve."

According to a 2004 international survey of 144 cities conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Calgary is the world's best city for healthy living. The ranking reflects the city's commitment to ensuring its citizens have access to a broad spectrum of quality-of-life programs and services.

Cardel Place reflects that commitment, with a mandate to "provide an inspiring destination, enriching individual, family, and community lifestyles." The recreation and wellness center serves as a one-stop location, conveniently offering a range of superior programs that meet community needs.

Major elements of the 195,000-square-foot facility include a multi-component aquatic center, fitness and weight centers, a three-court gymnasium, two NHL-size arenas, child-care and food services, a physiotherapy clinic, pro shop, and library. From preschool to adult, the facility offers services ranging from wellness and sports training to day camps, workshops and birthday parties.

"Its fundamental purpose is serving the community," Cannon Design representative David Roach says. "We put their needs first."

In addition to keeping residents' bodies and minds fit, the facility is aiming to help keep the environment healthy, too. During the schematic design phase, the City of Calgary mandated the all municipally funded public facilities had to achieve at least a LEED silver designation.

Cardel Place officials and the design team did even better. They set a goal of LEED Gold, a status bestowed upon only the most eco-conscious designs. The stringent requirements helped the design team generate a solution that enhances the recreation experience instead of being a barrier to functionality. Using extensive glazing, for example, provided dual benefits: It dramatically increased nature's light and external viewing options and lowered energy costs by reducing the need for artificial light.

The facility's mechanical systems also reflect the dual benefits by combining the aquatic and ice facilities under one roof. The move enhances the user experience through ease of use, especially for families with different recreational interests. It also enables the ice rink cooling to be used to dehumidify natatorium air. Heat from the ice plant and the building's cogeneration system is captured and redeployed elsewhere in the facility.

Other sustainable features—including waterless urinals, low-flush toilets and electronic faucets—help save more than one million liters of water a year and contribute to a cleaner facility. Readily accessible public transportation and bicycle storage offer further eco-friendly features.

In the end, the design team created a facility that meets Calgary's high standards and exceeds its expectations.

"The community reaction has been over the top," Scott says. "We have great support from the community and we had a strong year financially. We exceeded our projections."


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

Good project inside and out. Consistency and organization flows throughout the project.

Jason Tramonte

Nice fit into the landscape. By placing large-volume spaces into the ground, the mass doesn't overwhelm the surroundings. Overall, a smart layout. Adding a public facility like a library added a planning challenge. The simple plan layout provides for good operational functioning. Designing to a LEED gold standard is impressive.

Greg Garlock

Very nice balance of solid and transparency—I like the mix of sloped and cube forms—provides great interest for a very large building. Nice views into activity spaces. Nice distinction of uses with split-level entries. Well-planned segregating arena uses from rec and library uses. Good circulation plan. Great to see silver/gold LEED certification—huge challenge on this type of building!

Chris Kastelic

Very effective use of geometry, floating plans, vertical planes, glass massing. The plan is well-organized based on priority of public spaces.

Frank G. Beans

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate architect:

Barry Johns (Architect) Ltd.

Landscape architect:

Carson McCulloch Associates Ltd.

Structural engineer:

Read Jones Christoffersen

Electrical engineer:


Electrical engineer:

Stebnicki Robertson & Associates

Mechanical engineer:

Wiebe Forest Engineering Ltd.

Aquatic consultant:

Counsilman/Hunsaker & Associates, Inc.

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