Atlantic Avenue Art Block

Located on the east edge of downtown Calgary, the Atlantic Avenue Art Block is a four-storey retail, office and art gallery building with underground and surface parking. The new facility boasts a sleek, modern design with hints of inspiration from the community’s historical setting. The building has achieved LEED® Silver certification.

The structure was built with cast-in-place concrete with slab-band construction to accommodate long span, high loading and offset column alignment requirements. The top floor construction uses structural steel to showcase unique architectural features, including a waved roof. A high-water table and challenging soil conditions required innovative structural foundation solutions to satisfy geotechnical requirements as well as to maintain constructability.

Williams Engineering Canada (WEC) provided structural, building envelope and roofing services for this project, as well as specialty structural engineering services for a four-storey central atrium stair sculpture. The atrium functions as the circulation stair for the building and provides direct access from the gallery’s main entrance on the fourth floor. Inspired by an artist, this feature was created using stainless steel and glass materials sourced from various locations around the world. Both the fabrication and the construction of the stair sculpture were facilitated using a three-dimensional model and shop drawings.

“The overall approach for the structural design of the project was to select a structural system that could accommodate all of the intended uses of the building—two levels of underground parking, retail on the main floor, offices on the upper floors combined with an extensive mechanical space required to provide “museum-standard” environmental controls for the art gallery on top of the building. Each use requires a different column spacing, with the art gallery requiring a clear-span, open area for exhibits. A concrete, slab-band system was selected to facilitate the column spacing combined with vibration isolation requirements. In addition, the roof “wave” feature required unique roof detailing to facilitate a curved metal deck profile, and rainwater leaders were embedded in a concrete column in order to provide a clean, architectural appearance in the gallery viewing lantern.” — Jim Gilliland, Regional Director, Southern Alberta

The design for the art gallery space required specific building envelope expertise to accommodate the building’s high humidity levels and the large window sections. The art gallery features a raised mezzanine and a floating “bird’s nest” conference room. A three-dimensional model of the conference room was created to facilitate the modification and installation of the steel ribboned nest structure.

“The greatest structural challenge for this project was incorporating the art elements into the structure of the building. With a museum-quality art gallery at the top of the building, several feature art elements were added to the building, which required modelling to facilitate custom fabrication. The four-storey, stainless steel atrium art sculpture was integrated into the stair structure using BIM, which was then exported to manufacturing facilities in Germany and the United States for fabrication. Similarly, the spherical conference room in the art gallery was also modelled using BIM for fabrication purposes. Installation of the feature art was coordinated by the construction manager with the international suppliers and was completed with zero modifications post-fabrication modifications.” — Jim Gilliland, Regional Director, Southern Alberta

Our building science team provided quality assurance observations for the waterproofing beginning below grade in the parkade. During construction, we monitored the entire building envelope at grade level to ensure continuity of the air vapour barrier in the walls and the door and window connections. Quality assurance observations were also provided during construction for the entire installation of the roof. WEC worked closely with the architect, Abugov Kaspar, to ensure the unique wave roof had proper stormwater drainage to prevent standing water.

“The success of this project was determined based on decisions made during the early stages of the project. Selection of the most appropriate structural system facilitated easy, detailed adjustments required later in the design process. The use of BIM enabled exact details to be finalized and dimensions to match site conditions ensuring minimal construction re-work and delays.” — Jim Gilliland, Regional Director, Southern Alberta

The Atlantic Art Avenue Block will be a refined and elegant addition to Calgary’s Inglewood community.