Chinook Station

Calgary, Alberta 

Photo Credit: GEC Architecture

CASE STUDY

Initial Research by: Desiree Theriault

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2017

 

 

Project: Chinook Station 

Type of Urban StrategySmart Cities 

Type of ProjectRecreational Plaza / Transportation

LocationCalgary, Alberta 

Date Designed/Planned: 2013

Construction Completed:  2013

Designer: GEC Architecture 

 

The Chinook Station responds to the City of Calgary’s need for transit-oriented development. The project aims to become a Major Activity Center that produces a high job population and density, creating a more vibrant and dynamic area for the Chinook Centre. The Chinook Station ensures a quality public realm that encourages walking and a unified community while providing opportunities for better mixed-use development, affordable residential building and bicycling and pedestrian trails.

 

The Chinook Station Area implements multiple strategies to improve the public realm of the Chinook Centre. These improvements include a more lively and easily accessible pedestrian experience on all streets by providing large sidewalks and plazas, implementing urban green spaces to increase visual appeal, a safer and more secure LRT corridor that utilizes trees and shrubs to create a more human scale, and local art installations to bring an identity and sense of place to the Chinook Centre.

 

The project designed by GEC Architecture in conjunction with the City of Calgary provides citizens with a glimpse into the economic, social, and cultural successes of a Transit Oriented Development area (LandUse, 2013).

CONTEXT


The Chinook Station serves as a transformative civic space that acts as one of Calgary’s major transportation hub. The station is bounded by Glenmore Trail and Macleod Trail – both of which harbour major commercial corridors leading to the Chinook Mall and a large expressway. The Chinook Station provides the City of Calgary a glimpse into the benefits of transit-oriented development and succeeds by providing an additional 11 bus routes; connecting nearby communities, Calgary’s major destinations, and regional institutes. The station itself, designed by GED Architecture, provides a large commercial and mixed-use plaza that elevates the public realm into a walkable, beautiful, liveable and vibrant public space. Since 2013, the station has been named one of the top 10 most heavily used systems in Calgary (CTV, 2013). The Chinook Station has been a catalyst for re-imagining the idea of what LRT can be, as well as how transit-oriented development can dramatically enhance and improve public spaces (GEC, 2017).




SITE ANALYSIS


The Chinook Station Area is bounded by Glenmore Trail - an expressway - and Macleod Trail dissecting the area towards the Chinook Centre Mall. The Station is located a few blocks from the major Chinook Centre Mall that identifies the area, settling right on 61st Street. The project is surrounded by multiple communities including Windsor Park, Burns Industrial, and MeadowLark Park. The experiential quality of the space is human scale utilizing low-level commercial and mixed-use buildings in accompaniment with decorative street artifacts to create a unique identity and style. The streets provide views towards Calgary’s commercial corridor and are complemented by trees sectioning the street – creating a better pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.




PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY


Over the past decades, Canadian cities have shifted their perspectives of the urban environment into one that strives to be economically competitive. The future of a city now more than ever relies on providing a high quality of life, a sense of place, and universal access to its citizens. In early 2005, Calgary began striving towards integrating Light Rail Transit Systems and mandating Transit Oriented Development (City of Calgary, 2017). Transit Oriented Development at its most basic level, provides surrounding communities and neighbourhoods with efficient and accessible transit, walking and bicycling that creates a more vibrant, walkable and future-focused city. The introduction of the Chinook Station Area in 2013 by the City of Calgary and GEC Architecture has played a crucial role in creating a stronger, more attractive and future-focused Calgary - a necessity to thrive within the complexities of the Canadian urban planning landscape (GEC Architecture, 2017).

The history of the Chinook LRT Station area is extensive and have been in constant development since the 1950s. Due to the rapid urbanization of the area, the station runs along a corridor of low-level buildings including industrial, commercial and residential buildings creating an inconsistent density and pattern in the neighbourhood. The hodgepodge of building scattering, incoherent pattern, discontinuous sidewalks, lack of building orientation and intensive amount of surface parking lots has made Chinook Station and Centre a poor pedestrian environment (Land Use, 2013).

The City of Calgary felt that it was important to revitalize this area and to implement their strategies for Transit Oriented Design. The Chinook Station Area plan began in 2011, creating a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, and dynamic neighbourhood that enhances walkability across the city and the transit system network throughout Calgary. The first phase of the project was completed in 2013 with the designs of GEC Architecture, which integrated a newly developed station building and large plaza area that helped bring greater mobility, more walkable communities, reduce energy consumption, utilize parking lot areas, and reduce traffic congested areas. The Chinook Station has been a catalyst for economic development for the City of Calgary (Land Use, 2013).




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


The ultimate goal of the plan is to create an attractive, walkable and complete urban precinct with following key concepts:

-The area will contain a mixture of uses and have a variety of services within walking distance where buildings will be oriented to the street

-Improving the public realm throughout the station area to support higher density development and provide amenities for residents and workers.

-Pedestrian and bicycle connections will be safe and convenient, and the LRT station will have greater prominence as the public centre of the area.

-Transforming low-intensity light industrial and auto-centric retail commercial areas to provide for a greater




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


The Chinook Station Area is proposed in a larger schemed land use strategy plan that is based on three major phases and premises. These premises are the guidelines involved in the redesign of the Chinook Station as well as the corridor for the LRT system (Land Use, 2013).

Coherent Land-Use: One of the projects first phases will be to integrate a proper land use plan that utilizes mixed-use developments that support pedestrian activity.

Built Form & Site Design: This premise must remain consistent throughout the development of all buildings on the LRT corridor, ensuring that the buildings orient towards the street and are multi-storied.

Enhance Public Realm: The Station will become a primary social space and the corridor will provide the community with ample amenities and activities.

Increase Mobility: Throughout the entire project, the goal will be to balance mobility by enforcing an emphasis on pedestrian, transit and cycling travel modes.

Parking: Infilling surface parking lots to remove large voids within the space and provide parking behind buildings or underground.

Investing: Public sector and private sector investments will provide funding for the improvements to the public realm and will further aid in the opportunities to enhance the area.

The first phase of the project began in 2011 by the designs of GEC Architecture. Constructed in 2013, the Chinook Station area now provides Calgary with a new shopping district that enhances walking and cycling trails, surrounding communities, stimulates job growth and the overall urban fabric of the City of Calgary (GEC, 2013).




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


The main role of designers throughout the Chinook Station Area project was to enhance the safety and security of the public spaces and to improve a public realm into a formidable node of the city. GEC Architecture ensured to create a liveable, vibrant and dynamic station area and plaza by creating a central node that enhances the surrounding communities’ connectivity to the rest of Calgary and stimulates a new sense of identity to the Chinook Centre.




CITATIONS


Land Use Planning & Policy. "Chinnok Station Area Plan" Ca. PDF. 2013. http://www.calgary.ca/_layouts/cocis/DirectDownload.aspx?target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.calgary.ca%2FPDA%2FPD%2FDocuments%2Farp-asp%2Fcommunity-policy-plans%2Fchinook-sap.pdf&noredirect=1&sf=1 GEC Architecture. "Chinook Transit Facility." GEC Architecture. n.d. Web. 13 Jun. 2017. https://www.gecarchitecture.com/chinook-transit-facility/ Schmidt, Colleen. "Chinook Station ready for morning commute." Calgary. 2 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 Jun. 2017. http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/chinook-station-ready-for-morning-commute-1.1437177 City of Calgary. "The City of Calgary - Chinook Station Area Plan and Chinook Land Use Amendment." Calgary.ca. n.d. Web. 13 Jun. 2017. http://calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/Chinook-Station-Area-Plan-and-Chinook-Land-Use-Amendment.aspx?redirect=/chinook




PROJECT IMPACT


The Chinook Station responds to the City of Calgary’s need for transit-oriented development. The project has quickly become a major activity centre just north of Calgary’s downtown producing a high-quality public realm that has stimulated job growth, population growth and density growth in the area. The Chinook Station has brought in a new sense of identity for the Chinook Centre and the surrounding communities such as MeadowLark Park, Windsor Park and Burns Industrial. The Chinook Station has been a catalyst in encouraging pedestrian-friendly commercial areas and transit-oriented development (GEC Architecture, 2013).




FUNDING


The City of Calgary and the Landuse and Planning Department have allotted $1.5 million towards the Chinook Station Area revitalization. The funding costs cover the station and plaza rebuild and the surrounding streetscaping.




THE CHALLENGE


The ultimate goal of the Chinook Station Area is to harbour opportunities for a more ‘attractive, walkable, and complete urban precinct’ (Land Use, 2013). The Chinook Station aims to tackle the disparate low-level buildings, incoherent urban patterns, discontinuities of the neighbourhood and the poor land use of the area. Providing a station with a large platform plaza that revitalizes the LRT corridor and provides new opportunities for mixed-use and commercial development. This creates a vibrant and walkable area that serves as a prominent public centre in the City of Calgary (Ibid.).




GENESIS OF PROJECT


The Chinook Station responds to the City of Calgary’s need for transit-oriented development. The project aims to become a Major Activity Center that produces a high job, population and density growth, creating a more vibrant and dynamic area for the Chinook Centre. The Chinook Station ensures a quality public realm that encourages walking and a unified community while providing opportunities for better mixed-use development, affordable residential building and bicycling and pedestrian trails.

The Chinook Station Area implements multiple strategies to improve the public realm of the Chinook Centre. These improvements include encouraging a more lively and easily accessible pedestrian experience on all streets by providing large sidewalks and plazas, injecting urban green spaces to increase visual appeal, a safer and more secure LRT corridor that utilizes trees and shrubs to create a more human scale, and local art installations to bring an identity and sense of place to the Chinook Centre.

The project designed by GEC Architecture in conjunction with the City of Calgary provides citizens with a glimpse into the economic, social, and cultural successes of a Transit Oriented Development area (LandUse, 2013).




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


1. The area will contain a mixture of uses and have a variety of services within walking distance where buildings will be oriented to the street

2. Improving the public realm throughout the station area to support higher density development and provide amenities for residents and workers.

3. Pedestrian and bicycle connections will be safe and convenient, and the LRT station will have greater prominence as the public centre of the area.

4. Transforming low-intensity light industrial and vehicle-orientated retail commercial areas to provide for a greater variety of workspace and employment options.





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

NAVIGATE 

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