Photo: Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

Top Projects 2015: St. Patrick's Island

Civil—Under $50 Million (TIE)

Calgary’s long-anticipated East Village urban community is quickly taking shape, with new residential and commercial building springing up around the city’s freshly built infrastructure. You can now add an island playground to the list of amenities in the area. St. Patrick’s Island is a reinvigorated 31-acre island and regional park in the Bow River across from downtown Calgary, and its rejuvenation was part of the East Village redevelopment program. Virtually abandoned for years, St. Patrick’s Island underwent a multi-year rejuvenation completed in July 2015 under the guidance of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).

A master plan was developed for St. Patrick’s Island in 2010 following a rigorous public engagement process that collected input from some 6,000 Calgarians and helped define local hopes and expectations for the island. The master plan design principles and public engagement process also informed a North America–wide request for proposals, after which New York–based W Architecture and Denver-based Civitas were selected as partner landscape design leads.

Throughout the redevelopment of St. Patrick’s Island, CMLC and the architectural team worked towards retaining as much of the natural landscape as possible. This is highlighted in the restored vegetation throughout the island and preservation of a stand of older trees.

The completed landscape design features:

  • The Seasonal Breach, a newly restored river channel that has become an urban beach where visitors wade into shallow riverwater and venture safely onto a gravel bar.
  • The Rise, a nine-metre-high grassy knoll that is used for festivals and community celebrations, performances and movies in the park. During the restoration and drudging of the Seasonal Breach—when the team reinstated an original river channel—the excess earth was used to create The Rise.
  • The Playmound, a playground with a variety of familiar and inventive pieces of apparatus.
  • Lowland Channel, a seasonal wetlands with an innovative elevated boardwalk in metal that provides no-impact access through the ecosystem.
  • Confluence Plaza, a gathering place with a sculptural shade canopy, a sun deck and small amphitheatre that hosts performances and various small- to mid-scale programming such as food trucks.
  • Sculptural and whimsical seating.

The team also reused materials from the original St. Patrick’s Island Bridge for a utility shed and bathroom facility.

Since reopening the park on July 31, 2015, CMLC has delivered more than 50 free public events to more than 50,000 visitors, demonstrating the variety of programmatic experiences now available on the island.

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