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DIALOG unveils net-zero MacKimmie Complex design at University of Calgary

June 1, 2018
by Canadian Architect

The University of Calgary has released new renderings of The MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties Building Project, now under construction at the heart of the campus. Designed by DIALOG, the facility aims to be a high-performance net-zero carbon building. The new complex comprises a fully renovated tower and block and a brand-new link that connects the two buildings by an atrium, all connected by a redesigned outdoor gathering space. The multi-year, multi-phase project will enhance pedagogical and administrative environments, accommodate growth, and strengthen the sense of place and community in the heart of the University of Calgary’s main campus.

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Complex

The modernist design establishes connections between built form and open space with a brand-new link, or cloud, that floats between two buildings.

“This is one of the largest construction projects in recent campus history, so we are thrilled to be able to reveal to the campus community how the heart of main campus is being transformed with this project,” says Boris Dragicevic, associate vice-president, Facilities Development, University of Calgary.

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Complex

Made primarily by glass and concrete, metal photovoltaic panels and stainless steel cladding create a ‘breathing’ façade that uses natural light as a building material and allows the buildings to respond in harmony with the natural capital of wind, sun, and soil. The new link flows through the existing structure and leads purposefully to extended study spaces for quiet reflection and special access to newly accessible views of the surrounding campus.

To bring the University of Calgary’s “Eyes High” strategic vision to life, design firm DIALOG has been selected for design architecture, mechanical engineering, and landscape architecture. The program for the MacKimmie tower and the new block and link includes large classroom spaces, generous open student study areas, and small group study spaces, to encourage easier movement and social interaction and collaboration within the space.

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Complex

Regionally appropriate trees and shrubs will be planted to support biodiversity and sustainability with a wide-range of seating for year-round experiences.

“To accommodate an environment for education we asked ourselves how we can use design to participate in modern-day teaching and learning in a way that will go beyond technology and programming,” says Robert Claiborne, design architect and principal at DIALOG. “As one example of many, we are proposing a building skin that makes its energy-modelling systems tactile, or visible to the eye, as a way to make climate change conversations a permanent fixture in life on campus.”

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Complex

Extending the skin beyond existing column lines, the façade pays homage to the original 1966 tower structure while a photovoltaic appliqué is designed to retain the highest-possible amount of solar energy.

The MacKimmie Complex is one of the first-ever projects designed for certification with Canada Green Building Council’s new Zero Carbon Building Standard, Canada’s first green building program to make carbon emissions the key indicator for building performance. It is one of two projects by DIALOG, also signed into the AIA2030 Commitment, participating in the initiative. Tower construction began in March and continues through the summer until September 2019. Construction on the new block and link will begin in fall 2019 and continue until summer 2022.

Renderings courtesy of DIALOG.

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2 Comments » for DIALOG unveils net-zero MacKimmie Complex design at University of Calgary
  1. Rhonda says:

    Many of us at TFDL are looking forward to watching our new neighbor come to life over the next couple of years. However, we hope the HVAC system in the new construction will not be the same as TFDL, (and apparently EEEL as well). Meant to be an energy efficient building, it unfortunately is not. Heating only exists along the window walls so offices and spaces around the perimeter are warm, but it makes interior offices and spaces very cold, necessitating space heaters which totally defeats the zero carbon goal. TFDL has ‘fresh air’ vents in the interior spaces but these emit cold air year round. Having to run space heaters in most interior spaces 8-9 hours a day, 5 days per week, wearing jackets, shawls, coats and even blankets year round does not make any staff member feel like they are working in an energy efficient building. By contrast, some staff who work in corners of the building near windows often find it very hot, they often are ‘dressed for summer’ year round. Hopefully lessons have been learned and the new project will have a proper functioning energy efficient HVAC system.

  2. Built-Rite says:

    There is nothing special about this project. “Net-Zero Carbon” as defined by CaGBC has no requirement for existing buildings to reduce energy nor to make energy on site. The only “Net-Zero Carbon” part of this project is them promising to buy off site renewable energy credits. By that definition, every single building is “Net-Zero Carbon”.

    Every single glass box building is an energy hog. The triple glazing, double wall envelope is very expensive, and worst than the cheapest cost minimum wall construction for energy savings. They like to use a lot of pretty words and techno babble to sell the green benefits of this glass building, but it is a glass building and still an energy hog.

    Predictions for this project.
    – Bids will come in extremely high and VE will start cutting.
    – The wall mounted PV panels will be cut from the project.
    – The triple glazing exterior surface will become double glazing.
    – The finished, new project will use more energy than the old building.
    – The occupants will be uncomfortable with temperatures.
    – Shades will be added afterwards because of excessive glare.
    – No money left to buy all of the promised off site renewable energy.

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