The University of Calgary’s City Building Design Lab officially opens in downtown Calgary
Calgary Municipal Land Corporation partners with UCalgary to deliver collaborative hub in former central library building

Calgary, AB – The newly named School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape officially opened the doors today of the City Building Design Lab – an innovative research-hub in downtown Calgary – thanks to a partnership with East Village master developer Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).

The University of Calgary school formerly known as the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) first announced their downtown location with a five-year lease agreement generously provided by CMLC in the Castell building in December. Now bustling with students occupying the main floor and basement of the former Central Library building, the City Building Design lab opening was made possible through an investment of $1.5 million by CMLC for the program over the next five years. The lab and the programming this funding provides will give students unique opportunities to connect with the building industry and community as they explore how innovations in design, construction and operational management can work together to make cities more resilient, equitable, vibrant, prosperous, and healthy.

“The City Building Design Lab is structured to function as a hub for trailblazing research and collaborative discussions about the future of city building,” says University of Calgary President Ed McCauley. “By connecting students, faculty, industry professionals, entrepreneurs and city officials, the City Building Design Lab will cultivate the next generation of talented innovators who will transform our natural and built environments for work, rest and recreation.”

The space will act as a community connector and catalyst for civic transformation. It will be used to facilitate teaching, learning and research in architecture, planning, and landscape architecture, and will also serve as a focal point for professional discovery and public discussion about the future of city‐building.

CMLC has been leading the transformation of East Village over the past 10 years and much of EV’s success can be attributed to innovative placemaking initiatives and partnerships that have activated the community, stimulated private investment and attracted new residents to live in the community.

“CMLC’s partnership and investment in the City Building Design lab is a strategic alignment with UCalgary to foster leading-edge research in city building that will not only contribute to the vitality of East Village and the Rivers District but our city as a whole’” says Michael Brown, President and CEO, CMLC. “Most importantly, it provides an active street-level research hub that is open to the community to experience and participate; and programming initiatives that foster community development. Our contribution of $1.5 million over the next five years is about investing in innovation, education and the next generation of community leaders that will make Calgary more resilient and vibrant.”

This research hub offers a collaborative space in which entrepreneurial approaches to city building and growth can be explored.

“We’re focusing on three major grand challenge thematic areas; Designing Out Waste, Metropolitan Growth and Change, and Cities for All,” says John Brown, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. “In Designing Out Waste, for example, we’re using circular economy principles to reduce or even eliminate the concept of waste in construction and operation of buildings.”

The lab will contribute to the growth of the city by continuing to help diversify the economy, revitalize downtown and create new jobs in a range of industries.

“I’m excited to see the Castell Block activated in this way,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “It’s smart and thoughtful partnerships like this this that help us execute on our economic strategy. Students will have the opportunity to learn city building in the heart of downtown, we support local talent and business, and bring new life to one of our most important corners.”