Bow RiverWalk

Calgary, Alberta 

Photo Credit: Stantec

CASE STUDY

Initial Research by: Desiree Theriault

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2017

 

 

Project: Bow RiverWalk

Type of Urban StrategyWater 

Type of ProjectRiver Walk / Recreational Plaza

LocationCalgary, Alberta 

Date Designed/Planned: 2008

Construction Completed:  2012

Designer: Stantec

 

The original design and Master Plan of the RiverWalk came along with the East Village Revitalization in 2008. The City of Calgary created a subsidiary corporation – Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – in order to tackle this immense project. The goal of the project was inspired by some of the world’s most liveable places such as the Broadway Malyan’s Master Plan, utilizing its ability to give identity and a sense a place to an area.

 

The RiverWalk does this by becoming the ‘true soul’ of the River District. It is the space that establishes the East Village within the rest of downtown Calgary, and it provides a space as a destination and a journey. Today, the RiverWalk is utilized as the key commuter route for pedestrians and cyclists in Calgary – however, it also offers visitors with a vibrant space to gather. Its outdoor art installations, lighting, outdoor furniture, wayfinding, extensive landscaping and recreational spaces prove to be a place that Calgarians can assemble and reconnect with the Bow River (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).

CONTEXT


The Bow RiverWalk is located along the Bow and Elbow Rivers of Calgary. The RiverWalk opens up 4 kilometres of Calgary’s eastern downtown waterfront and encourages Calgarians to form a relationship with the Bow River. The RiverWalk uncovers a unique experience to its pedestrians and cyclists – creating a space of public art, native flora and fauna, destination venues and a brand-new identity (Stantec. "RiverWalk - Stantec.", n.d.).

Bow RiverWalk was established as a point of revitalization for Calgary’s East Village District. The history of the district graphically demonstrates some of the issues with neglected property and industry. With its peak as a district in 1906, East Village still contains some remnants of its once vibrant community, mix residential and commercial services, institutional and industrial activity. As Calgary began to expand, the East Village fell into decline. Many of its large family-run industries were abandoned, and with that came the overtaking of criminal activity therefore removing the character of the community. In 1941, the East Village was officially declared “Skid Row” – a desolate district. Attempts in the 1960s to renew the area brought widespread demolition - leaving an unattractive, industrial site. East Village was largely neglected until 2008 with the implementation phase of the RiverWalk Master Plan (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).

The RiverWalk has become a stimulator in the revitalization of Calgary’s East Village. It has engaged the surrounding communities, brought life the area, opened up the river and has provided a strong core framework to strengthen the identity and sense of place of the East Village (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).




SITE ANALYSIS


The Bow Riverwalk is bounded by the south bank of the Bow River in Downtown Calgary. The project aims to preserve the natural river environment while promoting safe pedestrian and cycling activities along the river. The RiverWalk passes under three vehicular traffic bridges: 5 Ave SE, Memorial Drive and Reconciliation Bridge. Each Bridge becomes heavily trafficked during peak work hours – however, the terraced RiverWalk and its proximity to the water edge combats the noise pollution. The use of a Public Art Program introduces colour and visual interest into the area, adding an additional layer to the overall new ambience of the East Village.

The RiverWalk itself captures stunning views of the Bow and Elbow River, multiple city skylines, neighbourhood districts and a view towards the Calgary Tower. Not only does the RiverWalk link Calgarians to neighbourhoods from Chinatown to East Village and beyond – it also establishes a strong re-connection with the river inviting its users to a new way of living

(Stantec. "RiverWalk - Stantec.", n.d.).




PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY


In 2007, the City of Calgary created a subsidiary named the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC, n.d.) to implement and execute the Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan. Part of that plan involved the design and implementation of the Bow RiverWalk (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).

In 2008, CMLC hired Stantec Consulting to achieve a Masterplan for the Bow RiverWalk – the plan was ambitious and aimed to create a 4 km pathway that opened up Calgary’s Eastern Downtown to re-development. The plan was incorporated in 2010 and split into three stages where each stage is divided into three phases. Stage 1 has been ongoing since the beginning of 2010. Phase I of Stage 1 was completed in November 2010, Phase II was completed in September 2012 and the third phase was halted in 2013 due to a flood. The Riverwalk proved itself resilient, with minimal to no damage, allowing for the continuation of construction. (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.)




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


The key goals of the Bow Riverwalk project are:

  1. Creating a distinct commuter path, that serves as a recreational open space
  2. Encourage growth and development of the East Village District
  3. Connect to the surrounding context – namely Downtown
  4. Incorporate smaller scale details




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


CMLC’s and Stantec completed Phase III of Stage I for the Riverwalk back in 2013. The RiverWalk program will continue onto Stage II that will further the Riverwalk east from 9th Avenue SE to Victoria Crossing (13th Avenue SE). Stage III will look at establishing itself along the south side of the Elbow River from Victoria Crossing to Lindsey Park

(CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


Stantec Consulting was responsible for designing along the south bank of Bow River in downtown Calgary. It was necessary that the design preserved the natural river environment, while promoting safe recreational activity along the river, and provided opportunities towards the redevelopment efforts of the neglected East Village District.

Due to the RiverWalks close proximity to the River, Stantec was challenged with creating a resilient design that would uphold against erosion, flooding, and overflow. To counter these effects, Stantec incorporated bioengineering, using natural materials like large plants, hearty shrubs as opposed to man-made materials like concrete engineered walls (Stantec. "RiverWalk - Stantec", n.d.).




CITATIONS


CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1." CMLC. n.d. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.calgarymlc.ca/riverwalk/ CMLC. "RiverWalk Stage 2." CMLC. n.d. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.calgarymlc.ca/riverwalk-stage-2/ Stantec. "RiverWalk - Stantec." Stantec.com. 9 Apr. 2017. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.stantec.com/content/stantec/en/our-work/projects/canada-projects/r/riverwalk.html CSLA. "Bow RiverWalk | CSLA." Csla-aapc.ca. n.d. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/bow-riverwalk Brynn Parker. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk." East Village Experience. n.d. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.evexperience.com/riverwalk/ CMLC. "2015 Annual Report" MCLC.com. 5 May 2017. Web. 9 May 2017. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/547dd9bfe4b0756a4a5e6c29/t/575f535362cd94c2d69c1081/1465865054913/2015+CMLC-Annual+Report.pdf CMLC. "2017 Business Plan " CMLC.com. n.d. Web. 9 May 2017. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/547dd9bfe4b0756a4a5e6c29/t/5853034a9f7456cfcc0ff472/1481835354933/CMLC+Business+Plan+Update+-+Optimized.pdf The Globe and Mail. "In pictures: Accolades flow for Calgary's RiverWalk." The Globe and Mail. 19 Jun. 2012. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/property-report/in-pictures-accolades-flow-for-calgarys-riverwalk/article4326343/ CBC News. "Calgary's global architecture, a nifty walking tour." CBC News. 2 May 2017. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-global-architecture-walking-tour-1.4089027 Tom Babin "What's right (and wrong) for cyclists on Calgary's new RiverWalk." Calgary Herald. 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 9 May 2017. http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/whats-right-and-wrong-for-cyclists-on-calgarys-new-riverwalk CBC News. "East Village washrooms, lounge chairs scaled-back after misuse." CBC News. 6 May 2014. Web. 9 May 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/east-village-washrooms-lounge-chairs-scaled-back-after-misuse-1.2633462 (City of Calgary. "Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan" Ca. 21 Mar. 2011. Web. 17 May 2017. https://www.calgary.ca/CS/CPB/Documents/rivers/rivers_community_revitalization_plan.pdf?noredirect=1)




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


Elements of the Bow RiverWalk project:

Connected to 700 km of Calgary’s Pathway Systems

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

Fort Calgary

1 km to Eau Claire Markets




MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT


The RiverWalk was challenged with the ultimate test during the 2013 flood. Stantec worked alongside a hydrology consultant to look over any areas with extensive damages creating a report for future maintenance use. Due to their resilient design, only 30% of the RiverWalk was affected. The repair process was quick and allowed the RiverWalk to continue on with its regular construction.

(Stantec. "RiverWalk - Stantec", n.d.)




FUNDING


The project was funded through the City of Calgary and its subsidiary the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC, n.d.). It would be the first phase in the revitalization master plan of the East Village District. The project was considered under the $345 million allotted to the rejuvenation of the district. The total cost of the Riverwalk is estimated to be $22 million of the $345 million East Village District.

The Bow Riverwalk in co-ordinance with the East Village District Master Plan is estimated to generate between $725 million and $1,166 million in revenues.




THE CHALLENGE


The Bow RiverWalk addresses the disconnect between Calgary’s East Village District and the rest of Downtown. The project would allow for public access towards the Bow River as well as a recreational trail open to all Calgary communities. The RiverWalk serves as the framework for creating a new identity and vibrant character for the East Village.




GENESIS OF PROJECT


The original design and Masterplan of the RiverWalk came along with the East Village Revitalization in 2008. The City of Calgary created a subsidiary corporation – Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) in order to tackle this immense project. The goal of the project was inspired by some of the world’s most liveable places such as the Broadway Malyan’s Master Plan, utilizing its ability to give identity and a sense a place to an area.

The RiverWalk does this by becoming the ‘true soul’ of the River District. It is the space to establish the East Village to the rest of downtown Calgary and it provides a space as a destination and a journey. Today, the RiverWalk is utilized as the key commuter route for pedestrians and cyclists in Calgary – however, it also offers itself as a vibrant space to gather. It’s outdoor art installations, lighting, outdoor furniture, wayfinding, extensive landscaping and recreational spaces prove to be a place that Calgarians can assemble and reconnect with the Bow River (CMLC. "Jack & Jean Leslie RiverWalk Stage 1", n.d.).





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

NAVIGATE 

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