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University of Calgary’s EVDS to reanimate former central library building


December 11, 2018
by Canadian Architect

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the master developer of East Village –  responsible for the dramatic transformation of the east end community has stewarded many successful development partnerships over the past 10 years that have brought some of Canada’s brightest thinkers and collaborators into East Village. Today, CMLC is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) to activate the main floor of the Castell Building, formerly the old central library.

The Castell Building served as the former Central Library. Image via University of Calgary.

The Castell Building served as the former Central Library. Image via University of Calgary.

Following the successful completion of the new Central Library (and Calgary Public Library’s exit from the Castell Building), CMLC entered into a lease agreement with the City of Calgary, owner of the Castell building and worked to identify programming opportunities that would activate the vacant building and provide a dynamic use in the space that responds to the building’s prime location.

“This is a unique opportunity for CMLC to partner with the University of Calgary’s EVDS Faculty to program the building and bring a collaborative research-hub into the community, says Michael Brown, president and CEO, CMLC. “Our goal was to seek a partner that would bring a street-level activation that builds upon the energy and momentum already underway in East Village, and this partnership is a great example of that goal.”

With a five-year arrangement commencing January 2019, EVDS will take occupancy of the building as a satellite location and use the space as a teaching lab that doubles as a new event venue for downtown Calgary.

UCalgary will create an active street‐level collaborative research hub in the heart of downtown Calgary. The daily presence of creative activity will become a focal point for professional discovery and public discussion about the future of city‐building. The new space will explore how innovations in design, construction, and operational management can work together to make cities more resilient, equitable, vibrant, prosperous, and healthy.

“The University of Calgary is pleased to partner with CMLC on this exciting project. The new space will cement our reputation as a community partner, while also helping to diversify the economy and activate an important landmark in downtown Calgary,” says Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary. “Through our commitments to innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, UCalgary fuels the next generation of talented innovators who will transform our home, work and recreational environments for the future.”

CMLC is undertaking $200,000 of improvements to approximately 29,000 square feet of space comprising the main floor and basement of the building to facilitate the EVDS teaching space and is further undertaking a review of the building to assess potential for additional activations on the upper two to six floors.

“We want to thank our partners at the City of Calgary for tapping CMLC to lead this project and having the confidence in our team to unlock the potential of the building, adds Brown. “For over 60 years, the building was an active part of the community with the Calgary Public Library team, so we are committed to keeping the building as an accessible community space.”

This sublease agreement supports one of UCalgary’s strategic priorities of integrating the university with the community through collaborative partnerships and will provide enhanced opportunities for students, researchers and companies to interact, create and explore ideas that continue to drive research excellence and innovation in Calgary.