city building gate

City Gate


Date: 2013

Status: Lecture, Exhibition

Location: Calgary, Canada

Program: Office, Mixed Use, Retail, Plazas, Retrofit

Size: 260 000m2

Exhibition: Brutal Intentions - Building Curiosity

Lecture: Re: Education - Dtalks Iconomy, Pecha Kucha Volume 3

Team: Jessie Andjelic, Philip Vandermey


City Gate is one of three proposals that uses maximum development as a means of preservation. Within a single large monolith, a range of disparate programs that represent a cross section of city programming are rearranged into a vertical orientation - the car is supplanted by ramps and stairs as well as mechanical modes of vertical circulation. A large urban gate provides a monumental axial connection between the CBE and the Family of Man park.

The Calgary Board of Education building (CBE) is a 1967 concrete building of a type that typically (even if erroneously) falls into the category of ‘Brutalism’, a style that is popularly understood to have emerged from and is often associated with Le Corbusier’s béton brut. Similar buildings include Mosche Safdie’s Habitat as well as Arthur Erickson’s Museum of Anthropology and Simon Fraser University.

1967, also the year Montreal hosted Expo ’67 (and the site of Safdie’s Habitat), was Canada’s centenary. Due to this fortuitous timing, ‘Brutal’ buildings (the title Heroic has been suggested by a group of architects based in Boston, in order to redress errors in nomenclature) came to be associated with an identity that was somehow Canadian while also forming a connection to an international movement at a moment in history that the public sector was optimistically realizing works of visionary architecture.

The proposals developed by SPECTACLE recognize the vulnerability of these buildings - they fall into a ‘Black Spot’ in history since they are too new to be preserved, but too old to be popularly desirable for reuse - but also their value as representative architecture of an important moment in both national and international history.


City Gate combines combines a mix of functions, typically distributed throughout Calgary and connected primarily by the car, into a vertical pedestrian oriented mini-city.



diagram 1
diagram 2

The maximum density for the block, including density bonusing, is FAR 20. Currently the CBE has 7000 square meters of surface - only 3% of its density potential. Since the City requires that the park be maintained, and we feel the Calgary Board of Education on the East end of the block should be preserved as an important example of 1960’s architecture, the default massing places the entire surface extension on the center portion of the block - the location of the current plaza. Maximization is the best way to preservation.



Hans Kolhoff’s 1988 Atlanpole stacked above the Arc de Triomphe by Jean Chalgrin - a victory for preservation!

The various portions of the building, from bottom to top, include a spiral of shopping, a variety of cultural / public venues including theaters, cinemas and exhibition spaces, offices and a perimeter block of housing.




axonometric site plan

longitudinal section

If City Gate is a new economic and civic engine, the reprogramming of the former Calgary Board of Education Administration Building as a hub of innovation provides the generator to run the engine.






interior - incubator