Quarry Park is a 314-acre development that had previously served as a gravel extraction and wash site since the mid-1950s. Considered one of the largest and most ambitious brownfield reclamation projects in North America, the redevelopment of the Quarry site began in 2006, with Remington Development Corporation transforming it into an active, sustainable community and one of the largest mixed-use communities in Calgary. It has become the home of several high-profile corporations, and its largest parcel, South Campus, is primed to be a key focal point.
Quarry Park South Campus features a connected set of five low-rise buildings that will be fully occupied in mid-2016 by a well regarded Canadian energy corporation. The buildings will offer people a superior working environment that promotes new opportunities for employee collaboration, while also supporting employee lifestyle needs of over 3000 personnel.
The developer’s challenge was to create new office accommodations that would meet the demands of the day and simultaneously provide the highest level of working conditions that was a match for the culture of the tenant organization. As such, the project was serviced by design firms who were capable of actualizing this vision for quality and extraordinary workplace environments. Riddell Kurczaba was responsible for site planning and architectural design of the base buildings, while the tenant’s appointed interior design consultant resolved and fitted up the spaces within the constructs.
A major component of the buildings that showcases their modernity is their literal transparency and management of light. The floor-to-ceiling glass allows copious amounts of sunlight to illuminate the open spaces within the buildings. With internal circulation being placed on the perimeter and all workstations being situated inboard, nobody “owns” the windows and everyone has access to natural daylight. The large windows also provide high visibility into and out of the building, allowing a sense of connection from within the interior spaces to the outside community and vice versa. Controlling the amount and impact (such as glare) of solar light is managed through an automated system of low-rise blinds. Brook Melchin, Senior Architect and Associate of Riddell Kurczaba, explained, “[The blinds] are based on solar sensors such that when the sun is low, the blinds are down. They’re translucent blinds, but they cut the glare. And when it’s a cloudy day, those blinds [go] automatically up.”
Architects face one ultimate challenge when designing a new building: space. Space is a quantifiable measurement of how much area a given structure can support, and space often goes to waste for up to thousands of square feet. To facilitate the tenant’s request for an open, unobstructed floor plan, Riddell Kurczaba put forth a structural solution that minimized the need for columns. When considering parking for thousands of employees, Riddell Kurczaba found the solution was literally beneath their feet. The West Parkade has three underground levels and the East Parkade has two. In total, there are about 1800 spots of combined underground and above-ground (surface) parking.
Riddell Kurczaba knew that the outside appearance of the building needed to emphasize the need to maintain a high quality environment for recreation and tranquility. Since the parking areas had already been allocated for primarily underground, the architects began looking at ways to promote peaceful, fun environments including a special focus on the small lake nearby.
“We had five different courtyards that we envisioned: we had an entry courtyard; a passive, quiet courtyard designed to be Zen-like and have a southern aspect and be very quiet; an activity courtyard where occupants can exercise; a second entry – but private – courtyard; and one that was oriented toward the little lake – we wanted to respect and focus towards that view of the buildings with the lake. We wanted to enter from one side, we wanted to present a public face, and all those courtyards needed to have privacy to them, where you could take your laptop and exit, do your work, and not worry about the security problem of going back into the building” said Melchin.
An impactful first impression, commensurate with the profile of the tenant organization, was a key design consideration, so Riddell Kurczaba looked at how to make the outside the most appealing to employees, visitors and the community. The solution, as explained by Nancy Maerz, Associate & Chief Operating Officer of Riddell Kurczaba, utilizes the front entryway’s three-story volume to frame an artful arrangement of two large, stainless steel pipes doubling as structural columns. These pipes hold representational significance, since they are, as noted by Maerz, “used in some areas of what [the tenant] does. They will have the appearance of holding up a massive canopy at the front entry.”
Thanks to collective efforts of the project stakeholders, including the architectural savvy of Riddell Kurczaba, Quarry Park South Campus will be poised to offer one of the most attractive, sustainable, and useful sites to its occupants. Without these important achievements, especially the efforts to ensure optimal visual appearance and the underground parking area, this building would not have been able to instill a tranquil, parklike environment that it resembles today. The South Campus project will definitely shine into the future as the reclaiming of Quarry Park nears its full realization.
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