For many years Calgary's downtown CP railway underpasses have been unfriendly, dark, dilapidated corridors, traversed by pedestrians only out of necessity. Calgary's downtown underpasses are important connectors between the downtown CBD and the Beltline, and are used by thousands daily. The 4th Street SW underpass was no exception, as one of 6 downtown underpasses in desperate need of an upgrade. 

Underpass artwork lighting, image via Kevin Cappis

A recent initiative by the City of Calgary to spruce up downtown underpasses has seen some of them transform into brighter friendlier public realms. This can be witnessed by the changes to the 4th Street SW underpass which were recently completed.

Underpass lighting at night, image via Kevin Cappis

The project was designed by the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative (MBAC), in conjunction with artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, and includes new sidewalk concrete, retaining wall repairs, new handrails, concrete framework for new stairs connecting to the 9th Ave overpass, and improvements to the 3rd Street turnoff for increased pedestrian safety. The project also includes a large-scale electronic artwork project to make the space brighter. Aside from offering a brighter, cleaner atmosphere, the artwork's animated light and colour responds to the flow of people through the space making it a dynamic piece. 

Underpass lighting looking south from 9th Avenue, image via Kevin Cappis

The overall effect from the underpass changes has resulted in a much more interesting, friendlier pedestrian realm within one of downtown Calgary's busiest north-south corridors.

SkyriseCalgary will be sure to follow more public improvement projects like this one, so be sure to keep up by checking in on our news-feed page, or check out the discussion in our related forum thread, and as always feel free to comment below.