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Edward Skira

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Yedlin: Calgary takes big step forward with Platform project
http://calgaryherald.com/business/local-business/yedlin-calgary-takes-big-step-forward-with-platform-project
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The evolution of Calgary’s innovation ecosystem took an important step forward Tuesday with the unveiling of Platform, a planned new space for innovators, collaborators and entrepreneurs.

Platform will occupy two floors of an $80-million, five-storey structure to be built in the East Village. The remaining three levels will function as a parkade for the nearby National Music Centre and Studio Bell and the soon-to-be completed New Central Library.

The unique structure is designed with the future in mind, when autonomous vehicles and increased ride sharing will diminish or even eliminate the need for parking stalls and parkades.

The announced partnership between Platform and the Calgary Parking Authority was brought to life by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the City of Calgary’s visionary development arm.

So, why build something new when there’s hundreds of thousands of square feet of unoccupied office space downtown?
There are many reasons, including that spaces to foster interaction between innovators and entrepreneurs need to be small enough to facilitate those synergies, and yet big enough to attract a critical mass of individuals.

Platform will also have ‘maker’ space, where early prototypes can be developed and used for marketing purposes.

“To really activate all of Calgary, sometimes you need to put new hardware in. A spot like this is a bit like the hardware and software analogy,” said Brad Zumwalt, a longtime Calgary tech entrepreneur who will contribute to Platform’s $20-million price tag. “The hardware is important, but we really interact with the programs; with the software.

“We have to do some catalytic activity to make a difference. The allows us to have all this happen in one place — the East Village.”

Many of those attracted to the innovation space are younger and don’t tend to work in the environments their parents did.

Platform will connect activity at the University of Calgary in terms of research and development to the downtown core, where it’s arguably more visible.

“Every city that is going to thrive in this disrupted age is going to have a big successful, research-based university as part of it. The city has grown a lot and we have more needs that we can accomplish in one innovation research centre at the university,” said Zumwalt.

In other words, this is all about adding to the landscape. Turf wars have no place in the goal to establish a strong innovation system in Calgary.

But, as Zumwalt pointed out, Platform and Calgary’s innovation ecosystem are only in the very early stages.

Attracting businesses and building the city’s talent pool will help both grow, as Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous emphasized Tuesday.

Bilous said his government recognizes the need to support the development of strong economic drivers outside the energy sector and is looking to learn from the recent bid process for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“I completely appreciate the urgency. We can’t afford to continue to wait,” he said.

Bilous was not in a position to state how the province might respond to the B.C. government’s recent decision to fund 2,900 new post-secondary tech spaces. B.C. is striving to create the workforce of the future despite lacking the space to cost-effectively accommodate new businesses or their employees.

Alberta has the opposite problem — lots of space, not enough talent.

If B.C. is willing to forge ahead on education and create the talent, Alberta should be paying close attention and ready to respond when the legislature reconvenes.

Meanwhile, there is the challenge to not only keep the momentum going, but also provide space for innovators, entrepreneurs and investors.

That’s already happening at places like Innovate Calgary, our post-secondary schools and the 17,000-square-foot Nucleus space donated by Cenovus.

“It is important to emphasize that this (innovation agenda) isn’t owned by anyone. It includes the entire community. There should be no doubt that if you are part of the Calgary or Alberta innovation ecosystem that we want you to be part of this and make the future happen together,” said Keiver Tremblay, community manager at Nucleus, where more than 1,000 people have been active in just two months.

“We are only scratching the surface.”

For a city and business community seeking to redefine and reignite the potential of this city and province, Platform is another important step in a deliberate journey that will contribute to significant economic transformation.

As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said, “Here’s to the dreamers … the ones who see things differently … because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This is that time.

Deborah Yedlin is a Calgary Herald columnist
 

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Surrealplaces

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Good read. I'm interested in seeing more details of the plans, to get a full idea of how this will look and work. also very interesting is that Brad Zumwalt is chipping in some of his own money towards this.
“To really activate all of Calgary, sometimes you need to put new hardware in. A spot like this is a bit like the hardware and software analogy,” said Brad Zumwalt, a longtime Calgary tech entrepreneur who will contribute to Platform’s $20-million price tag. “The hardware is important, but we really interact with the programs; with the software.
 

UrbanRED

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Good read. I'm interested in seeing more details of the plans, to get a full idea of how this will look and work. also very interesting is that Brad Zumwalt is chipping in $20 Million of his own money towards this. Does this then bring the price down from $80 to $60 Million?
No he's only chipping in part of the $20M used to build the non-parkade portion of this.
 

Surrealplaces

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No he's only chipping in part of the $20M used to build the non-parkade portion of this.
Yeah, I re-read that right as you were posting it lol. At first I was like wow...20 million bucks, but thought that didn't seem right. I'm curious to know how much he's donating.
 

DiscoStu

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I'm a bit skeptical about all the supposed uses and general buzzwords in that article, but the structure itself is interesting. Kind of feels like a transportation hub.

Any word on the architect?
 

UrbanWarrior

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It really does look like a train station. We can pretend that it is one, until we get one around probably 2025 to 2030.

Also, why do they keep touting this as 5 storeys in there media, when it is clearly 6? Is this perhaps a conceptual render? I can't imagine it being so, but why else would they be saying 5?
 

UrbanWarrior

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maestro

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I'm a bit skeptical about all the supposed uses and general buzzwords in that article, but the structure itself is interesting. Kind of feels like a transportation hub.

Any word on the architect?
I love how they sell these things. It's an amazing resource to develop dreams into reality. It's not being made available out of the kindness of hearts. It's a win win for everyone.
 

Spring2008

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Interesting concept and design. This along with the public realm improvements and nearby developments should make 3rd Street SE infinitely more appealing. Still a good few years from feeling like a more complete neighborhood, but anybody doubting the progress that has already been made within East Village should look back at the epic shithole this area was 10 years ago via Streetview: https://www.google.ca/maps/@51.0470837,-114.0499677,3a,75y,276.23h,101.47t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfhcPcymVh973_TrsBAkrYw!2e0!7i3328!8i1664
 

Just build it

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Quite amazing when you look at how it was. I totally forgot that it used to look like that.
Interesting concept and design. This along with the public realm improvements and nearby developments should make 3rd Street SE infinitely more appealing. Still a good few years from feeling like a more complete neighborhood, but anybody doubting the progress that has already been made within East Village should look back at the epic shithole this area was 10 years ago via Streetview: https://www.google.ca/maps/@51.0470837,-114.0499677,3a,75y,276.23h,101.47t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfhcPcymVh973_TrsBAkrYw!2e0!7i3328!8i1664
 

UrbanWarrior

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Interesting concept and design. This along with the public realm improvements and nearby developments should make 3rd Street SE infinitely more appealing. Still a good few years from feeling like a more complete neighborhood, but anybody doubting the progress that has already been made within East Village should look back at the epic shithole this area was 10 years ago via Streetview: https://www.google.ca/maps/@51.0470837,-114.0499677,3a,75y,276.23h,101.47t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfhcPcymVh973_TrsBAkrYw!2e0!7i3328!8i1664
Seeing that makes me even more proud to call this city home. Thanks for posting that. Calgary has improved, really, immeasurably in a very short time. Even just in my 6 years, I have noticed a significant difference.
 

maestro

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My biggest fear is that Calgary pride. It's so easy to get lost in it. We have come a long way. So has everyone else and there's still so much to do. Urban living is hot. It is staging ourselves to pull off another East Village for the eventually when urban living isn't so hot that will separate us from the pack. The East Village has an amazing scale but, it's the exception form the norm instead of being the norm.
 

UrbanWarrior

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True, but I feel like if CMLC can do it from scratch once, they can do it again. They control the three largest underdeveloped regions in the inner city: EV, WV, and Victoria Park.
 
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