The Future of City Building
The University of Calgary is training the next generation of city builders. From business and engineering to social work, public health, the humanities and social sciences, students across every faculty are learning how to help create great communities. This includes the things we would expect such as economic prosperity, vibrant public spaces and green areas, good transportation, and safe neighborhoods. But it also means creating a future that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and infectious disease resilient. Across the campus, researchers working to impact the future and empowering students to reach higher.
The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape and the City Building Design Lab is at the centre of the action.
We believe in experiential work integrated learning. Our students work with researchers and industry professionals on real-life projects in design studio courses, hands-on building projects and community planning studios. By connecting directly with communities, student work can actually have immediate impact.
Dean John Brown
Teaching and Learning
SAPL is cultivating leaders — the next generation of building industry professionals.
The studio is an active, generative workspace for graduate students in the professional architecture, planning, landscape architecture and research programs — catalyzing a unique learning experience in the heart of Calgary through city-building-related coursework and Work-Integrated-Learning opportunities.
Students and faculty have access to the Digital Fabrication Lab and specialized equipment, such as robots and 3D printers.
For school-aged designers and planners, SAPL offers Summer Design Camp. If your child is more interested in building the playground than going down the slide, consider enrolling your design enthusiast. There are two base camps: one on campus and another at the City Building Design Lab.
“University of Calgary students aren’t just imagining a reinvigorated Calgary; they are designing it. From creating an interactive canopy at a bus stop and increasing safety in the downtown core, to using robots to recycle old building parts, these innovators are contributing to a brighter future. Their leadership offers many benefits to our community. With a sustainable, welcoming, safe, and inclusive built environment, our city will enjoy greater economic activity, a revitalized core, and a bustling tourism industry.”
President Ed McCauley
Research + Innovation
The City Building Design Lab drives innovation and increases research capacity for SAPL, UCalgary and the surrounding area. We generate new research through industry partnerships and municipal engagements, student design studios and the on-site digital fabrication lab. CBDLab is an incubator for strategic research activity and a host for exhibitions to garner feedback and spark discussion. The CBDLab opened in May 2019. Research outputs since include Housing, Green Alley,Co-Creation and exhibitions.
Green Alley Project
The Green Alley Project (GAP) demonstrates how to transform Calgary’s downtown alleyways from forgotten and gritty into places of connectivity, productivity and value — by becoming part of the city’s green infrastructure while also being a dynamic people-centered place for hanging out 24/7, year-round.
The Morphology of Urban Repair
"Our MLA Program is the first new program in Canada since 1980, and was accredited in 2018. After completing five previous studios in landscape architecture, regional landscapes and urban design, this final studio gave the students the chance to focus on the real-world 21st century urban problem of Calgary’s languishing east downtown. The difficult challenge of improving the public realm and increasing vibrancy was one that the students took on brilliantly. Research-based proposals included a systematic analysis of the building – street interface, creation of a comprehensive park and open space framework, development of an education precinct, adding residential uses back into the area, design for Calgary’s winter, and strategies for improving many key corridors and precincts. Their thoughtful work could help the City to address many of the downtown issues – not with quick fixes but with a more radical long-term commitment." ~ Instructor Dr. Beverly Sandalack. Explore →
Sponsored by the Richard Parker Initiative, 14 distinct urban planning research projects include Aging in Place, Cross-Culture Approaches to Design, Co-Create Downtown Calgary and 1M+NXC - Downtown Calgary one-million feet at a time.
The City of Calgary has embarked on a journey to reimagine Stephen Avenue and position it for a renewed era of success. SAPL co-creation initiatives help to develop ideas and visibility.
The CBDLab is a gathering place for leading designers and thinkers from around the world to share knowledge and collaborate with our communities through Design Matters Lectures, graduate studios, block week courses and Professional Continuing Education. The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) uses the space to host symposia, panel discussions and workshops that support Calgary's social, economic and cultural development. The gallery is open to the public, displaying 8–10 exhibitions annually and facilitating continuous discourse about city building.
City Building Gallery
The gallery at the CBDLab features exhibitions from SAPL researchers, community partners and alumni — and delves into broad explorations and discussions about city building. Visit →
CBDX was created to collectively tackle the big issues of tomorrow as a design community, initiate change, foster new ideas, and showcase innovation — the future of city building. CBDX explores two topics annually through an international design ideas competition, resulting in bi-annual exhibitions and an annual publication. Explore CBDX →
The CBDLab is a hub for design-based events in Calgary. In 2019/20, the CBDLab hosted over 7,500 professionals and members of the public at more than 150 city building events. Upcoming events →
Doors Open YYC
The annual Doors Open YYC provides an insider’s look at the CBDLab with behind-the-scenes experiences like having a robot draw you and your friends. Free to the public. Visit www.doorsopenyyc.org →
Thank you CMLC
Thanks to a partnership with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) opened its downtown location in the Castell Building in May 2019. The City Building Design Lab was made possible through an investment of $1.5 million by CMLC over five years to deliver a collaborative hub.
Now, the CBDLab is bustling with students occupying the main floor and basement of the former central library building. These young professionals are offered 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.
Video: courtesy of CMLC
Curious for more?
The CBDLab is a hub for design-based events in Calgary. Join us to learn more about the future of city building and how we can make Calgary a better place to live.
Imagine the future
The City Building Gallery features exhibitions from researchers, community partners and alumni — delving into broad explorations and discussions about city building. Visit often!