Civitas Receives AIA New York Urban Design Award for St. Patrick’s Island.
Denver urban design firm strategic player in new future for Canadian island
Denver, Colorado – April 16, 2014 – Denver-based urban design studio and strategic consultancy Civitas, Inc., has received a prestigious 2014 AIA NY Design Award for its plan to revitalize the 30-acre St. Patrick’s Island in Calgary, Alberta. Civitas partnered with New York-based W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, co-leading a multi-disciplinary team for the design of this island park. An international jury bestowed the project with a Merit Award in the Urban Design category. The St. Patrick’s Island project was deemed exemplary for its collaborative effort and visionary plan to restore and return a significant Calgary parkland to active public use.
W/Civitas will be recognized for their achievements in the annual awards ceremony presented by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NY) on April 23 and in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture in New York City, April 24 – June 17, 2014. The winning project also will be published in the summer issue of Oculus magazine.
A vital landscape in downtown Calgary that divides the flow of the scenic Bow River, St. Patrick’s Island has experienced the literal ebb and flow of time. Historically used by buffalo and Canada’s aboriginal people as a crossing, the island eventually became a campground and then a destination for the homeless. The neglected space attracted crime and drug trades that ultimately left a decayed landscape. “It basically stopped evolving and functioning as an island,” says Civitas project manager Scott Jordan. Today, the island park is geographically at the center of an ambitious redevelopment strategy for the city’s downtown.
With the emergence of a new vision for the park and surrounding redevelopment efforts spearheaded by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, W/Civitas won an initial design competition in 2011 to create an active, nature-based park on the island for residents of the growing downtown and nearby communities. “We have created a design that celebrates people being on the island,” says Jordan, who explains that the project, planned for 2015 completion, will “restore the island’s ecology and increase biodiversity while providing new enticements for visitors to interact in a natural public park setting.”
Located in a floodway, the new St. Patrick’s Island is designed as a model of resiliency. The design will restore historic channels to provide safer access to the water. Soil removed to recreate the channels will be repurposed to create a “rise” that will provide views to Calgary’s skyline, a venue for concerts and events, and an ideal slope for winter sledding. Boardwalks and designated trails will protect new wetlands and vital habitat. “The proposed topographic changes bring people closer to the water while linking them visually to the downtown,” explains Barbara Wilks of W Architecture. “This simultaneity is the new relationship between nature and cities.”
“Anytime a landscape architecture project is recognized by a group of architectural professionals it says a lot about the project transcending the landscape realm and into the category of creating better cities,” says Jordan of
the AIA NY award.
With a core purpose of “creating healthier cities,” Civitas is an idea-based practice of urban designers, architects and landscape architects engaged in strategic planning for urban change and project design for built works. A
consultancy and a design studio, Civitas advises on a wide range of strategies for re-imagining urban life and places. For more information, visit Civitas online at www.civitasinc.com.