St. Patrick’s Island Conceptual Design Development
Client Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)
Location Calgary | Alberta | Canada
As a key project in the redevelopment of the East Village, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has initiated redevelopment of St. Patrick’s Island, a currently underdeveloped 31 acre waterfront park, and environmentally sensitive island, located minutes from the downtown core. After completion of a Master Plan, the CMLC solicited Requests for Qualifications on an international scale for a Conceptual Design Development Competition. O2 was selected as one of five successful proponents and the only local contestant invited to participate. The firm was then asked to participate as one of three finalists and the only Canadian firm selected in this paid competition.
Focused on principles of biophilic design, the plan for St. Patrick’s Island strived to enhance “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life” (Kellert, 2008), and to create a meaningful place-based environment. Each design element was carefully considered to ensure “an ecological fit” with its surrounding context. The design took a restorative design approach that provides positive human connections to high-quality natural environments with an inventive and often playful attitude. At the same time, it attained important environmental and ecological objectives. The principles of regeneration, integration and contrast formed a design approach for the project and helped achieve the biophilic design objectives put forward in the Master Plan.
Key highlights of the Conceptual Design Development Plan included: sinuous terraces for river access, while protecting the sensitive river bank from erosion due to human and natural forces; a wooden performance structure and earthen landform in front of the historic backdrop of Fort Calgary; a restorative wetland featuring interpretive contemplative docks and winter skating; a multi-purpose scalable structure providing visitor information, washrooms, amenities and a small gallery space; and a new wooden pedestrian bridge at the eastern entry of the island. In addition to new programmatic elements to attract visitors, the design also focused on increasing local biodiversity, protecting the old growth riparian forest, improving trout habitat, and restoring eroded riverbanks.