Photo: Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

Top Projects 2015: Simmons Building

Commercial—Under $50 Million

Built in 1912, the Simmons Building served as a factory warehouse for a national bedding manufacturer. Following the post-war years, the building sat empty for decades before Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) took on the restoration project as a part of a public infrastructure initiative to kick-start Calgary’s urban renewal.

As one of the few historically designated municipal sites in Calgary, the Simmons Building, located along the Bow River, is an integral part of the redevelopment of East Village. It is now a centrepiece of RiverWalk—an initiative that restored the natural beauty of the riverbanks and linked neighbourhoods.

CMLC engaged architectural firm McKinley Burkart, Stuart Olson Construction and the City of Calgary’s historic experts to preserve and restore the Simmons Building, making it attractive to Calgarians while still retaining its historical character. To achieve this goal, the recognizable exterior features were preserved. The team did not touch the distinctive signage, and they painstakingly replicated the historic multi-paned windows. Inside, the building’s defining elements were restored, including 36 solid fir pillars, 22 metal radiators, red metal elevator doors and some of the building’s brickwork.

To open up the space, the team removed part of the second floor and added stairwells and an elevator. To make the building a key element of the RiverWalk plan, the team removed part of a north river-facing wall to create a view of the Bow River.

CMLC envisioned Simmons as a bustling retail destination both day and night. To realize that vision, the organization selected “local champions” Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and chefs John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, who created CHARCUT Roast House. The homegrown talent has helped make the Simmons Building a proudly local culinary destination.

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