University of Calgary reveals design for net-zero MacKimmie Complex

Universities across Canada are officially cheering for school being out for summer. For the University of Calgary, this means work on The MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties Building Project can reach new heights. Designed to be a high-performance net-zero carbon building, the new complex comprises a fully renovated tower and block and a brand-new link that connects the two buildings by an atrium, all connected by a redesigned outdoor gathering space. The multi-year, multi-phase project will enhance pedagogical and administrative environments, accommodate growth, and strengthen the sense of place and community in the heart of the University of Calgary’s main campus.

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Tower
Clear and purposeful, the modernist design of the MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties Building Project establishes connections between built form and open space with a brand-new link, or cloud, that floats between two buildings (tower and block) and augmentation of the earth’s surface to sustain a relationship between building and landscape. | Photo: DIALOG

“This is one of the largest construction projects in recent campus history, so we are thrilled to be able to reveal to the campus community how the heart of main campus is being transformed with this project,” says Boris Dragicevic, associate vice-president, Facilities Development, University of Calgary.

Made primarily by glass and concrete, metal photovoltaic panels and stainless steel cladding create a ‘breathing’ façade that uses natural light as a building material and allows the buildings to respond in harmony with the natural capital of wind, sun, and soil. The new link flows through the existing structure and leads purposefully to extended study spaces for quiet reflection and special access to newly accessible views of the surrounding campus. | Photo: DIALOG
Made primarily by glass and concrete, metal photovoltaic panels and stainless steel cladding create a ‘breathing’ façade that uses natural light as a building material and allows the buildings to respond in harmony with the natural capital of wind, sun, and soil. The new link flows through the existing structure and leads purposefully to extended study spaces for quiet reflection and special access to newly accessible views of the surrounding campus. | Photo: DIALOG

To bring the University of Calgary’s “Eyes High” strategic vision to life, design firm DIALOG has been selected for design architecture, mechanical engineering, and landscape architecture. The program for the MacKimmie tower and the new block and link includes large classroom spaces, generous open student study areas, and small group study spaces, to encourage easier movement and social interaction and collaboration within the space.

DIALOG, University of Calgary, MacKimmie Tower
By extending the new exterior skin beyond existing column lines, a new façade enhances and pays homage equally to the original 1966 tower structure. A photovoltaic panel appliqué is designed to retain the highest-possible amount of solar energy. An existing sculpture is re-positioned to balance visual flow between the natural environment and building’s facade. | Photo: DIALOG

“To accommodate an environment for education we asked ourselves how we can use design to participate in modern-day teaching and learning in a way that will go beyond technology and programming,” says Robert Claiborne, design architect and principal at DIALOG. “As one example of many, we are proposing a building skin that makes its energy-modelling systems tactile, or visible to the eye, as a way to make climate change conversations a permanent fixture in life on campus.”

The new urban realm designed at the centre of the campus proposes a new relationship between landscape and architecture by embracing open spaces and enhancing campus community and maximizing porosity and movement throughout the site and within the buildings. Regionally appropriate trees and shrubs will be planted to support biodiversity and sustainability with a wide-range of seating near building entrances to provide a contemplative space for year-round experiences. | Photo: DIALOG
The new urban realm designed at the centre of the campus proposes a new relationship between landscape and architecture by embracing open spaces and enhancing campus community and maximizing porosity and movement throughout the site and within the buildings. Regionally appropriate trees and shrubs will be planted to support biodiversity and sustainability with a wide-range of seating near building entrances to provide a contemplative space for year-round experiences. | Photo: DIALOG

The MacKimmie Complex is one of the first-ever projects designed for certification with Canada Green Building Council’s new Zero Carbon Building Standard, Canada’s first green building program to make carbon emissions the key indicator for building performance. It is one of two projects by DIALOG, also signed into the AIA2030 Commitment, participating in the initiative. Tower construction began in March and continues through the summer until September 2019. Construction on the new block and link will begin in fall 2019 and continue until summer 2022.

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