News / Calgary

Unbuilt Calgary: Local architecture pros share their thoughts on city’s designs

Describe Calgary’s architecture:

"Buildings" are often designed to the lowest common denominator (price, materials etc.), utilitarian in their use and engagement with the public. "Architecture," on the other hand, endeavours to imbue built form with a sense purpose and viscerally heighten the experience of the every day. With respect to the current state of architecture in Calgary, I would say that due to our conservative provincialism, our city continues to be dominated by ‘buildings’ with only a few instances of ‘architecture.’ Thankfully, the up-and-coming generations are beginning to question the conservative status quo and asking if there is an alternative.

– Dustin Couzens, MoDA Architectural Collaborative

What do you like about it?

I like the fact that in the past 10 years the city has begun to embrace density and urbanism as a sustainable goal … I like that the city is investing in the public realms, and in the realization that the pedestrian is the most important member of the transportation network. Also, we are no longer getting ‘branch plant architecture’ as we did in the old days. As a function of our growth as a financial capital, we are attracting far more sophisticated architecture.

– Jeremy Sturgess, Sturgess Architecture

What needs improving?

Calgary’s architecture is restricted by the City of Calgary Land-Use Bylaw and Communities. The City needs to get the Planning and Building Department on the same page and staff needs to be trained properly. Our esteemed mayor needs to start paying attention to this industry. He appears not to care or understand the struggles of the construction industry due to the incompetence and continuous changes made by the planning department.

— Trish Krause, Tricor Designs

More cultural spaces, which lend themselves nicely to contemporary design, should be added to the city fabric. Examples would be a central modern library that connects to public life at street level; a new building for the Glenbow Museum; a new museum of contemporary art featuring international exhibits; and perhaps even a modern museum of energy that keys on history of Alberta oil and gas, innovations in exploration and operations and sustainability and alternative energies.

– Peter Schulz, architectural design manager at Riddell Kurczaba Architecture

More on