The northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 8th Street SW is home to one of Calgary's most memorable recent examples of adaptive reuse. Built in 2010 and designed by Marshall Tittemore Architects, the University of Calgary's Downtown Campus transformed a six-storey medical office building into a contemporary landmark characterized by an assortment of exterior cladding materials.
Before new facades could be erected, the interior of the existing building had to be remediated and reshaped. Asbestos was removed, part of the structure was demolished to accommodate new floor plans, and the roof was raised to allow room for a two-storey internal atrium. The adjacent parkade also underwent structural upgrades, resurfacing and revamping of mechanical and electrical systems before an exterior screening system by Ned Khan sheathed the 8th Avenue frontage.
Though the north and west masonry walls have been rehabilitated with structural reinforcement and new windows, their appearance is largely unchanged from the Modernist aesthetic that defined the medical building. The majority of the exterior alterations took place where the public will see them — curtain wall glass replaces the horizontal bands of windows and blue spandrel that the previous design developed, and an irregular fenestration gives a sense of playfulness to the undulating black zinc corner.
The Downtown Campus houses satellite spaces of several University faculties, including the School of Public Policy and the Haskayne School of Business. The project earned the Mayor's Urban Design Award in Urban Architecture (2011) and the Calgary Downtown Association Vitality Award (2012).
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