Dow Poppy Plaza:

Landscape of Memory  

Calgary, Alberta 

Photo Credit: Marc Boutin Architectural Collabrative

CASE STUDY

Initial Research by: Desiree Theriault

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2017

 

 

Project: Poppy Plaza 

Type of Urban StrategySmart Cities 

Type of ProjectRiver Walk / Memorial Landscape / Plaza 

LocationCalgary, Alberta 

Date Designed/Planned: 2013

Construction Completed:  2014

Designer: Stantec, Mac Boutin Architectural Collabrative

 

The Poppy Plaza is designed by Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative and Stantec Consulting. The project is one of the first nodes and phases of the Landscape of Memory development alongside Memorial Drive. The 86,100 square-foot plaza aims to revitalize an abandoned green space and residual road found at the intersection between Memorial Drive and 10th Street Bridge. The project transforms the area by becoming a necessary link not only physically but also metaphorically. The Poppy Plaza provides a much-needed node and gateway between Calgary’s Downtown, Kensington commercial Markets and the Bow River; while simultaneously creating a dynamic, evocative, and thoughtful connection to the historic past of Canada.

 

The plaza contributes to Calgary’s urban realm by becoming a valuable, inclusive, and commemorative voice for Canada’s fallen soldiers, Canadian History, and Canadian Future. Using landscape architecture, materiality, and thoughtful framing – Poppy Plaza begins to catalyse opportunities for Calgarians to commemorate, engage, and connect (Arquitectes, 2017).

CONTEXT


The Poppy Plaza is a project designed by Stantec and Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative which is a part of the second phase of the Landscape of Memory Project. The project is an 86,100 square-foot plaza along the 9.5 km pathway of the Memorial Drive. The plaza provides pedestrians and cyclists with a path of hope, commemoration and respect (ArchDaily, 2016). The Poppy Plaza addresses the link between history and present, providing a space to honour Canadian soldiers who have worked tirelessly to protect and serve our country.

The project is viewed as an important urban strategy for the City of Calgary that revitalized a once abandoned green space and the residual road into a new point of accessibility between downtown, Louise Crossing, Kensington commercial district and the Bow River (City of Calgary, 2017). Poppy Plaza serves as a linking node to the rest of the city, providing new pedestrian and cycling access, while being one of the first major public plazas alongside the Memorial Drive (CSLA, 2017). Poppy Plaza has resulted in a dynamic shift in Calgary’s public gathering spaces, providing a space that not only evokes emotionally, spiritually, globally, and collectively; but also engages the community in the network of Calgary’s urban fabric (CSLA, 2017).




SITE ANALYSIS


Poppy Plaza was designed and constructed upon a left-over piece of green space and road that found itself at the intersection of Memorial Drive and the 10th Street Bridge. The project is bounded by Memorial drive, Kensington Street, and the Bow River – making the Poppy Plaza an important node in a complex intersection (Marc Bouting, 2015).

The project provides cycling and pedestrians commuters access to pathways towards Calgary’s downtown, the Bow Riverwalk, and Kensington’s Commercial District. The plaza provides a calming space for visitors to think, honour, and respect our Canadian Soldiers, providing framed views of the city and more specifically the water. Lighting evokes an inspiring atmosphere, illuminating two sentinels that frame the visitor’s descent towards the Bow River. Large steel cut frames allow for visitors to take in the framed city while reading the important narrative of the past. Visitors move through the space with an understanding of their past, present and future – finding themselves reflecting across the river (City of Calgary).




PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY


In 1922, the City of Calgary began a commemoration project that planted a Poplar tree for every fallen soldier alongside the Memorial Drive. There was a total of 3,278 trees planted that provided citizens with a deep connection to the men and women serving their country during World War I and World War II (Shannon, 2015).

In 2013, most of the trees had begun nearing their end of life – marking an important end to a commemoration project. This is when the City of Calgary looked to continue the legacy of the 1922 Living Trees project, the tradition that honours and commemorates the fallen soldiers of Canada.

The project began with the transformation of a residual green space on the corner of Memorial Drive and 10th Street, overlooking the Bow River (City of Calgary, 2017). This intersection was important to the City of Calgary as it was a node to the city’s network and would provide citizens with a link to their past, present, and future. The design for commemoration needed to provide the City of Calgary with a necessary gateway between the downtown, Kensington commercial District and the Bow River – all the while maintaining the powerful tradition of 1922.

Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative and Stantec Consulting were assigned to design the new dynamic Canadian memorial space suitably named Poppy Plaza. The design of Poppy Plaza is an 86,100 square foot plaza that keeps up the legacy of 1922 with a new Bosque of planted aspen trees and provides the citizens of Calgary a space to enrich their history, honour the fallen soldiers, and reflect on what it means to be Canadian.

Poppy Plaza was brought to life in 2014 and engages Calgarians with a new sense of commemoration and atmosphere. The use of landscape architecture creates a space that links commuters across Calgary not only to their past and present – but also to their future destination (Shannon, 2015).




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


The goal of Poppy Plaza is to provide a holistic link - a desire to connect with our surrounding urban fabric and the ability to become a nodal access point for commuters across the city, while also being able to provide Calgarians with a deep link to their past and to understand the meaning of being Canadian (ArchDaily, 2016).




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


One of the main goals that Marc Boutin Architecture Collaborative and Stantec Consulting wanted of Poppy Plaza is to create connections. The first connection is to create a nodal point between Calgary’s Downtown, Kensington commercial Districts, and the Bow River – this is done by revitalizing fragmented green space in an optimal intersection. By revitalizing this area, Poppy Plaza begins to strive as a catalyst of social, cultural, and historical enrichment and provides the City of Calgary with an engaging contribution to their public realm.

The second link is the most important, as it is the atmospheric connection between past, present and future.

The design for Poppy Plaza aims to commemorate the fallen soldiers of Canada during World War I and World War II; while simultaneously contributing to Canada’s understanding of its future as a country. In order to create a clear connection between past and present, Marc Boutin Collaborative and Stantec Consulting utilize weathered steel and folded wood. The folded wood provides a deck that provides seating and shelter for both visitors and cyclists. The wooden deck is created out of low-maintenance Balau wood that creates a special historic link with the existing heritage trees from 1922. The weathered steel enhances the visitors' relationship with the past, retaining measurements and scars of the 100-year flood bank.

The weathered steel protects the wooden deck – framing the visitors' journey towards the river and to downtown. Visitors are met with beautiful and inspiring quotes from world leaders across Canada, perforated into the weathered steel walls. The contrasting materials allow for a new topography to be formed, edgeless and continuous, resulting in a journey for the visitors that take part. Lighting is used to play off the materials, evoking a sense of awe, reflection, and memorialisation. The light bounces off the smooth deck surfaces and frames the descent of visitors towards the river by illuminating the quotes on the weathered steel capturing the present moment and allowing for a time of contemplation and reflection. At the end of the plaza, visitors encounter a beautiful view of the Bow River with the glimmering light of the plaza reflecting off the water’s horizon. The plaza provides its visitors with a sense of hope and future – a look into the bright, thoughtful, and beautiful future. Together, these complex interactions create a holistic view of Canadian history and future and provide Calgary with a powerful, dynamic, and honourable public space. (Boutin, 2016)




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


The Poppy Plaza required the designers to utilize landscapes architecture and urban strategies to transform an important abandoned space into an intersecting public realm that is both evocative and engaging. The project needed to continue the legacy of the past, while maintaining a site-specific orientation on connections and corridors towards the networks of the City of Calgary (City of Calgary, 2016).




CITATIONS


N.a. "The Landscape of Memory: Poppy Plaza." Arquitectes.cat. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. https://www.arquitectes.cat/iframes/paisatge/cat/mostrar_projecte.php?id_projecte=9837&lan=en N.a. "The Landscape Of Memory: Poppy Plaza | Prairie Design Awards." Prairiedesignawards.com. 16 May 2016. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. http://prairiedesignawards.com/2014/tlom_poppy_plaza.html ArchDaily. "Poppy Plaza / The Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative." ArchDaily. 1 Apr. 2016. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. http://www.archdaily.com/784646/poppy-plaza-the-marc-boutin-architectural-collaborative N.a. "The Landscape of Memory: POPPY PLAZA | CSLA." Csla-aapc.ca. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. http://www.csla-aapc.ca/awards-atlas/landscape-memory-poppy-plaza N.a. "The City of Calgary - Poppy Plaza." Ca. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pages/Locations/NW-parks/Poppy-Plaza.aspx N.a. "MBAC." The-mbac.ca. 28 May 2015. Web. 7 Jun. 2017. http://www.the-mbac.ca/#/portfolio/public-realm/memorial-drive-landscape-of-memory-poppy-plaza




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


Poppy Plaza contributes greatly to the public urban realm of Calgary. Some elements that allow it to strive are:

• Wood decking

• River overlook

• Weathering steel walls

• Benches

• Bosque of trees

• Walkways

• Interpretive elements

• Historical significance




PROJECT IMPACT


Poppy Plaza is a significant urban project that activates accessibility and networks throughout the City of Calgary. The pedestrian and cycle friendly plaza allow visitors to commemorate and memorialize veterans of World War I and World War II. The interactions throughout the space created by the smooth interweaving of wood and steel provide an atmospheric experience that engages the community, enlightens citizens on their history and illuminates the future of Canada (Prairie Design Awards, 2016).




MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT


The design of Poppy Plaza aimed to be low-maintenance by utilizing materials that would require little to no management. Weathered steel does not have to be treated every year and will change in colour over time – providing a desired effect for the historic site. In addition, the Balau wood does not require plenty of maintenance. The Park is maintained through the Parks and Recreation Department with the City of Calgary.




FUNDING


The Poppy Plaza was funded by the City of Calgary for $9 million and is part of the Landscape of Memory Project spawning along Memorial Drive. The redevelopment of the Landscape of Memory is funded on a budget of $31.5 million, where the Poppy Plaza is one of the first in the series of the plaza along the Landscape of Memory development (Huffington Post, 2013).




THE CHALLENGE


The Poppy Plaza aims to respond to the disconnect between major access points and the lack of mobility between downtown, the river, the shops and the bridge. The citizens of Calgary are faced with an intersecting nodal point that does not allow proper cycling and pedestrian access towards these elements (Boutin, 2015).

The project looks to create a nodal point that enhances Calgary’s urban network – providing both pedestrians and cyclists with a gateway towards Downtown Calgary, the Bow River, or the Kensington commercial District. However, one of the more important aspects of the project is its aim to use landscape architecture as a tool to shape and form an important link to historic past and continue a city’s legacy. The landscape provides a transformative experience that allows visitors to commemorate, engage, honour, and to learn about the fallen Canadian soldiers that have helped protect Canada’s freedom and rights as a country (ArchDaily, 2016).




GENESIS OF PROJECT


The Poppy Plaza is designed by Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative and Stantec Consulting. The project is one of the first nodes and phases of the Landscape of Memory development alongside Memorial Drive. The 86,100 square-foot plaza aims to revitalize an abandoned green space and residual road found at the intersection between Memorial Drive and 10th Street Bridge. The project transforms the area by becoming a necessary link not only physically but also metaphorically. The Poppy Plaza provides a much-needed node and gateway between Calgary’s Downtown, Kensington commercial Markets and the Bow River; while simultaneously creating a dynamic, evocative, and thoughtful connection to the historic past of Canada.

The plaza contributes to Calgary’s urban realm by becoming a valuable, inclusive and commemorative voice for Canada’s fallen soldiers, Canadian History, and Canadian Future. Using landscape architecture, materiality, and thoughtful framing – Poppy Plaza begins to catalyse opportunities for Calgarians to commemorate, engage, and connect (Arquitectes, 2017).





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

NAVIGATE 

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