9 Block

Reshaping downtown with the Mayor's Office to make downtown Calgary more vibrant and safe while considering the needs of vulnerable populations

What is the 9 Block Project?

The area around Calgary’s City Hall – the heart of where decisions about Calgary happen – doesn’t feel safe or vibrant. The City of Calgary has identified an opportunity for collaboration with downtown community partners to pilot quick solutions in the nine blocks that surround City Hall that are aimed at improving safety in this important area, supporting the neighbourhoods businesses, and finding low-cost, impactful solutions through partnerships.​

SAPL’s participation will allow for experimental, design-based solutions or possibilities to address safety and vibrancy in the area and highlight its urban significance.

Click on the image to read about the March 2020 launch of this initiative.

In Fall 2020, a group of architecture students completed a new bus stop — a design-build project under the direction of research lead Mauricio Soto-Rubio and robotics specialist Guy Gardner.

Image courtesy of Mauricio Soto-Rubio

Our mission is to bring together our students and researchers with municipal policy-makers and the public to explore new directions in city building. Our students are very excited to take on this opportunity to develop and implement thoughtful, innovative solutions in the neighbourhood they interact with every day.

Dr. John Brown, PhD, SAPL Dean

How are SAPL students and faculty involved?

Following During Winter Term 2020, Students in the senior Master of Landscape studio led by Dr. Beverly Sandalack, PhD, researched the historical underpinnings of the build form in the area and proposing some long-range design options. Students enrolled in Barry Wylant’s undergraduate studio proposed design thinking ideas for social and civic innovation within the 9 Block area.

During Summer 2020, students in the Master of Architecture, Master of Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture programs will work with assistant professor Mauricio Soto Rubio on a 9 Block prototype tactical urbanism design/build project, in collaboration with The City and under the auspices of the Urban Alliance.

Undergrads Gregory Campbell and Angelica Becerra at the launch in SAPL’s City Building Design Lab.

Undergrads Gregory Campbell and Angelica Becerra at the launch in SAPL’s City Building Design Lab.

9-block map

Where are the 9 blocks?

The boundaries of the 9 Block program are 1 Street SE, 6 Avenue SE, 4 Street SE and 9 Avenue SE.

There are lots of interesting questions before us. How do we improve wayfinding? How do we make sure this is a welcoming space for everyone? This area of the city is essentially [its] front lawn.

Mayor Nenshi

This Issuu volume features the studio work from the Senior MLA Studio. Click on image to view full PDF.

The Morphology of Urban Repair - Calgary East Downtown

The Senior Research Studio in Landscape Architecture is a research-oriented project studio that explores contemporary themes in landscape architecture. The studio centres on a real world problem or project; the analysis of issues and context, and the formulation of a comprehensive design solution involving advanced methods, techniques and practices.

Led by Dr. Beverly Sandalack in Winter 2020, the senior landscape studio built on the interest to the 9 block area and the agenda for improvement. "While remaining cognizant of the City’s emphasis on those nine blocks, the Studio completed a comprehensive analysis of a broader area in order to understand the overall urban morphological issues of the downtown and its historic evolution. This is important as the basis for proposing new, radical, strategies for renewing the downtown and improving the public realm." Sandalack continues, "Following a collective critical analysis, each of the eleven students in this final studio of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program identified an individual issue, and utilized a research-based process to address their objectives. These eleven projects propose attempts to repair the urban morphology of the east part of Calgary’s downtown, and to lead ultimately to a higher quality public realm for all."

Following a collective critical analysis, each of the 11 students in this final studio of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program identified an individual issue, and utilized a research-based process to address their objectives. These 11 projects propose attempts to repair the urban morphology of the east part of Calgary’s downtown, and to lead ultimately to a higher quality public realm for all.

Dr. Beverly Sandalack

Professor

City and UCalgary students find solutions to improve downtown safety and vibrancy

Experimental Research Project 2020

During the summer of 2020, SAPL students, led by assistant professor Mauricio Soto Rubio, fabricated an experimental canopy with 3D-printed lights that are activated by pedestrians.

This project is part of Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between The City and the University of Calgary to promote the seamless transfer of cutting-edge research between the City and the university, for the benefit of all of Calgary’s communities. This partnership supported the hiring of four students so they could design and implement a tactical urbanism project in the area to test out potential improvement strategies.

Continue reading in UToday

Canopy detail

Canopy detail

Canopy detail at night

Canopy detail at night

Interactive lighting sequence

Interactive lighting sequence

Interactive lighting sequence
Interactive lighting sequence
Axonometric diagram

Axonometric diagram

Site plan

Site plan

Section

Section

The project not only provides a degree of weather protection and increase the ambient lighting conditions on the site, it also includes a series of fully interactive and playful lighting fixtures designed to increase the real and perceived sense of safety and vibrancy in the area. In addition, the project provides a platform for students to experiment with upcoming design and fabrication techniques, including 3D printing with recycled plastic and CNC milling of wood. This helps to achieve one of SAPL’s goals to reduce waste, and align with Designing Out Waste and circular economy initiatives.

Mauricio Soto-Rubio

Assistant Professor