The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) have launched a new initiative to create safer and more vibrant streets.
The 9 Block initiative will address safety, vibrancy, and social inclusion in the nine city blocks containing City Hall, Olympic Plaza, Bow Valley College, the Castell Building and the Central Library.
“We’ve been able to create something really special with this program. The 9 Block initiative builds on a long history of partnership between the city and the university, with the goal of seamlessly transferring and mobilizing knowledge that will benefit our community,” said Dr. Ed McCauley, UCalgary president at the launch.
The launch took place inside SAPL’s City Building Design Lab (CBDLab), which opened less than a year ago with the intention of allowing UCalgary researchers to work more directly with external stakeholders on issues related to city building.
“Our mission is to bring together our students and researchers with municipal policy-makers and the public to explore new directions in city building,” said John Brown, dean of SAPL. “Our students are very excited to take on this opportunity to develop and implement thoughtful, innovative solutions in the neighbourhood they interact with every day.”
SAPL’s participation will allow for experimental, design-based solutions or possibilities to address safety and vibrancy in the area and highlight its urban significance. This summer, students in the Master of Architecture, Master of Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture programs will do just that when they work with professor Mauricio Soto Rubio on a 9 Block prototype tactical urbanism design/build project, in collaboration with the city and under the auspices of the Urban Alliance.
The city will also be initiating projects focused on improving wayfinding, programming and building community partnerships in the area. The wayfinding initiative is examining ways to improve connections in and around City Hall to make the area more welcoming and easier to navigate. In terms of programming, The city is planning better ways to use public spaces in the area and making it easier for citizens to access these spaces.
“It’s going to take all of us to build and reshape this area, and downtown as a whole, and it’s important we all take a shared position in stewarding the 9 Block area into the future,” said Thom Mahler, lead for The City’s Downtown Strategy. “This program is a major piece of the our Downtown Strategy and the city’s continued commitment to support the recovery and diversification of Calgary’s economy and building a foundation for a great future for this important downtown area.”