Monday, March 8, 2010

Memorial Drive's Poppy Plaza coming along

With the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday for Memorial Drive’s Soldiers’ Memorial, we thought we’d take a look at the Poppy Plaza, an award winning public space to be completed this fall.

The Poppy Plaza, which will be located along Memorial Drive and designed by the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative, is the first of many new public spaces to be created as part of the second phase of The City’s Memorial Drive: Landscape of Memory.

Doug Marter, The City’s Manager of Planning and Development, said the “fairly intense architectural features” should be well received by Calgarians.

Adjacent to the former Outdoor Resource Centre at 1111 Memorial Dr. N.W. (the old Fire Hall), the plaza commemorates Canada's efforts during wartime, while at the same time offers a much needed public gathering space which helps connect people with the river's edge.

Sean Knight, the plaza’s architectural project coordinator, said it will be a really interesting site, especially because it’s located at a gateway to downtown at the 10th Street Bridge, resides on the Bow River pathway and is adjacent to Kensington.

“The sculptural element will be a wall with perforated poppies and narratives cut into the wall of people’s experience of war,” he said. “It is multi-generational, and will commemorate sacrifices of war across a broader spectrum” such as of those who have fought in war and people who have lived in Calgary during wartimes.

The $7.9 million public space is part of the partially completed $31.5 million Landscape of Memories, which includes the new centre medians and runs from Centre Street to Point McKay across from Edworthy Park.

The space will include two folded surfaces, the first of weathering steel and the second a Balau wood surface as well as two interrelated places: a sociable space of interaction that extends the pedestrian-friendly Kensington neighbourhood and a more reflective space connected to the water’s edge and the pathway system.

The plaza has already won the Canadian Architect Award of Merit to go along with The City of Calgary’s Mayor’s Urban Design Award and The City of Calgary has submitted the project for consideration in the upcoming 2010 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada National Urban Design Awards – so stay tuned.

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