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Calgary Downtown Retail District: Urban Design Strategy
Urban Planning / Design
The City of Calgary is planning a revitalization of its downtown as a retail district. Here, urban-design strategies were introduced to help improve the appearance and function of the interface between public and private spaces. Although Downtown Calgary is blessed with many desirable assets of a modern urban center--including a well-connected street-grid layout; a bus and light-rail transit system; high-intensity buildings with offices and retail stores; the winter-friendly +15 pedestrian tunnel network, and a variety of open spaces--it feels like a concrete jungle where people only go to for work.

Sidewalks are often lined with blank walls, dark windows, large building overhangs or arcades that create a cold and dark environment. Some plazas are underutilized and static. The color palette throughout is muted and dated, and major entrances are de-emphasized.

Design guidelines, along with retail and branding strategies from media and economic consultants, were created to assist the transformation of Downtown Calgary into a destination for entertainment, shopping, dining, cultural events, and tourist attractions. The goal is to enhance the Downtown experience while taking into consideration Calgary's severe climate.

These proposed interventions show how private property owners can use design to create a better pedestrian experience and make downtown a more attractive and frequented place with some minor cosmetic improvements. Strategies include:

- Lighting
- Color and Materials
- Signage
- Public Art
- Water/Landscaping Features
- Building/Structural Improvements
- Building Articulation
- Programming