The Hat Elbow River | 178m | 56s | Cidex Group | NORR

MissingMiddle

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It’s not a great site honestly stuck between the Macleods. Everything Cidex does seems to be a density play, I just wish this thing had a podium that looks and feels like Curtis Block along the North and south interfaces and that the riverfront would become a nice place to be. It’s the monolithic podium with poor materials for the podium that kills this thing. If it can do those things right I think it would be ok.
The Macleods make this a complete island, even as a park I don't see any way around that without changing the roads.
 

Mountain Man

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BLVD is between the MacLeods and it seems to be successful. All a development here needs is a traffic light on 18Ave at both ends and it will do fine.
 

CBBarnett

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BLVD is between the MacLeods and it seems to be successful. All a development here needs is a traffic light on 18Ave at both ends and it will do fine.
The Macleods make this a complete island, even as a park I don't see any way around that without changing the roads.
A lot of why BLVD does better - apart from a more ground-oriented, appropriate urban design - is 12th Avenue's cycletrack and the 13th Avenue greenway components serve to strengthen the pedestrian linkages across the chasm of Macleod's couplet. So yes - changing the roads are a key part of making any development reasonable in the area. So will any additional park/pathway connections into the Elbow River pathway system, however it's a fairly neglected corridor with little room for a network on the north side of the river at all, let alone on this parcel. Better public realm and less hostile quasi-freeway only goes so far with a podium like this though.

The only hope for improvement now rests on materials, which one of the weakest and least reliable pillars to base a project's success on. Materials are also never enough to overcome complete urban design failures.

I continue to think in line with my original opinion when the renders were first discussed - this project is a rare example where the level of density is actually the core problem - it's just too much. 10 storey chunky podiums are very difficult to integrate in a city (beyond maybe Manhattan or Shanghai), doubly so when they are just parking and not something more active (i.e. an urban mall, residential etc.) I would have happily lost the middle tower and it's associated parking levels if it brought the podium down a few floors.

The density is so high that the usual bonuses (increased local foot traffic) won't be overcome by the drawbacks. The design is far too blunt and traditional - just an over-scaled inward looking, parking + apartment development with little thought to living there or nearby. It's on the scale of a Vancouver or Toronto mega-development, but with none of the level of design those cities attempt (not always successfully) to make neighbourhoods at this scale livable. For example, this scale of development so close to an LRT station could have done a high-quality LRT integration like Marine Drive or Brentwood Town Centre in Vancouver.

It does say something about our process:
  • the most impacted site is city-owned to the north. Which will now be permanently in shadow. Does the city not have a role to protect the viability of it's own lands? This site can no longer be an effective park or open space due to permanent shadows - yet I don't think it complained at all the way a private landowner might have.
  • I don't know what the density bonusing calculation was but the city got 22 affordable housing units in this one. Is that enough to offset the impacts?
  • Why can we add 1,300 units to a neighbourhood - equivalent to adding a Cliff Bungalow or Garrison Woods or University Heights - but have it not trigger public realm upgrades automatically throughout the area?
 

CBBarnett

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I'm not concerned about shadowing the bylaw office lol
I totally get that, but I am hedging my bets on that the bylaw office won't be there as long as these towers are. What possibilities exist for future development are definitely impacted by near permanent ground level shadow.

Let me try to make my point another way. Our process seems to often - rightly or wrongly - be based on mitigating real and perceived impacts to other property owners. Most of the day-to-day ones are silly - complaining about 1m height over what the plan said is ridiculous and not a material impact to anyone.

In this situation, however, my cynical hunch is that if there was a single privately owned mansion instead of the bylaw office to the north, the podium wouldn't be nearly this high. Which would highlight the problematic and convoluted route we have in this city to achieve better urban design by relying on complaint rather than something more predictable.
 

MissingMiddle

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I thought it would interesting to note the massing and FAR from the Rivers District Master Plan.

The corridor between Macleod and 1st is intended to be high density, but the massing shown along the river is much different, and more appropriate for the site. Of course it's just a master plan, but even it managed more refinement.
1636830374151.png
1636830409032.png

I apologize for the resolution, that's the best the document would allow.
 

adamyyc

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A lot of why BLVD does better - apart from a more ground-oriented, appropriate urban design - is 12th Avenue's cycletrack and the 13th Avenue greenway components serve to strengthen the pedestrian linkages across the chasm of Macleod's couplet. So yes - changing the roads are a key part of making any development reasonable in the area. So will any additional park/pathway connections into the Elbow River pathway system, however it's a fairly neglected corridor with little room for a network on the north side of the river at all, let alone on this parcel. Better public realm and less hostile quasi-freeway only goes so far with a podium like this though.

The only hope for improvement now rests on materials, which one of the weakest and least reliable pillars to base a project's success on. Materials are also never enough to overcome complete urban design failures.

I continue to think in line with my original opinion when the renders were first discussed - this project is a rare example where the level of density is actually the core problem - it's just too much. 10 storey chunky podiums are very difficult to integrate in a city (beyond maybe Manhattan or Shanghai), doubly so when they are just parking and not something more active (i.e. an urban mall, residential etc.) I would have happily lost the middle tower and it's associated parking levels if it brought the podium down a few floors.

The density is so high that the usual bonuses (increased local foot traffic) won't be overcome by the drawbacks. The design is far too blunt and traditional - just an over-scaled inward looking, parking + apartment development with little thought to living there or nearby. It's on the scale of a Vancouver or Toronto mega-development, but with none of the level of design those cities attempt (not always successfully) to make neighbourhoods at this scale livable. For example, this scale of development so close to an LRT station could have done a high-quality LRT integration like Marine Drive or Brentwood Town Centre in Vancouver.

It does say something about our process:
  • the most impacted site is city-owned to the north. Which will now be permanently in shadow. Does the city not have a role to protect the viability of it's own lands? This site can no longer be an effective park or open space due to permanent shadows - yet I don't think it complained at all the way a private landowner might have.
  • I don't know what the density bonusing calculation was but the city got 22 affordable housing units in this one. Is that enough to offset the impacts?
  • Why can we add 1,300 units to a neighbourhood - equivalent to adding a Cliff Bungalow or Garrison Woods or University Heights - but have it not trigger public realm upgrades automatically throughout the area?
Calgary should have a “Percent for Public Art Program” similar to Toronto (if it doesn’t already). https://www.toronto.ca/city-governm...-guidelines/percent-for-public-art-inventory/
 

Just build it

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I'm going to go against the grain and say, build it as planned. IMO, this is one of those locations where you might as well pound in the density. The parcel is good for little else, given the way it is cut off from everything by the river and the Macleods. It's only 300m away from the Victoria Park LRT station which makes it handy for transit, but because of the way it's cut off it can't really be integrated well on the TOD side. It's only offering to the TOD is raw density, so might as well go big.
If the whole setup with the Macleods was different or going to be changing, I would say revisit this design, but this is a good fit for the situation.
 

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