The West Eau Claire Park defines a new vision for a highly-valued public space along the Bow River in Calgary. The park improves the public realm while implementing a critical component of the City’s flood resiliency strategy through the construction of a flood barrier. The first phase was completed in 2018.
Stakeholder-supported goals for the project included:
• Improving circulation and connectivity;
• Supporting tourism, vibrancy, and river experiences;
• Ensuring safety; and
• Building resiliency.
The iterative design approach allowed the team to minimize impacts and to use funding allocated for the barrier to create innovative public amenities. Rather than a problem,
the infrastructure became an opportunity. To protect mature trees located in a stretch of park requiring an almost 2m tall barrier, the team developed the Flood Bench. The iconic 200-metre long bench, part flood barrier and part gathering place, is a new social amenity with places for sitting, lounging, working, busking, and more.
New passive and active spaces, including a river vista, access points, and a great lawn, enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the park. An exemplary new public space, the Delta Garden, is located where the Peace Bridge converges with the park. Inspired by the flow of people from the bridge and a river delta, raised planters with lush perennial planting create seating areas and define circulation patterns. A new public art installation by local artists was developed through a collaborative process and public engagement. Entitled ‘The Delta Garden and The City Unseen’, the piece consists of 10,000 uniquely inscribed survey monuments embedded in the pavement, following metaphorical paths of sedimentation created by the planters. Adjacent to the Garden, the Cove and The Mound contain terraces that step down to the river to create gathering spaces with picturesque views to the Peace Bridge. Wooden chairs in The Cove that are seemingly always occupied provide a sense of intimacy with the river.
Name of the project: West Eau Claire Park
Project location: Downtown Calgary, Alberta
Design year: 2014-2018
Year Built: Open to the public – September 21, 2018