The Water Centre
Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the Water Centre is the first operational/administrative building constructed under the City’s Sustainable Buildings Policy. It does not simply meet the new rigorous standards adopted by the City; it surpasses all expectations of sustainability, beauty and functionality to bring new life to the community. The surrounding neighborhood was engaged in a number of design presentations and discussions. In each case, the community was inspired by the innovative design, the sustainable strategies, the addition of green space and the integration of Art and Architecture to transform this former brownfield site into a visionary workplace and public space. The building brings together the City’s 800 Waterworks & Wastewater staff, allowing for better integration between departments and a more efficient delivery of services. In addition to offices, this building incorporates workshop space for field crews, water metering shop, the maintenance trucks and all other services needed to support a rapidly expanding municipal infrastructure. Symbols of water, very important to the client, are reflected in the high performance building envelope featuring a south-facing glass curtain-wall in a palette of soft, watery blues and greens. A standing seam metal panel curved roof, shaped like a wave, shields the building against the prevailing northerly winds, shades it from the summer’s heat, acts as a sound barrier against busy traffic and helps collect water used to irrigate the prairie grasses planted around the building. The resulting large public garden provides much needed open space for the denser surrounding residential communities as well as for staff and visitors. A public art commission illustrates the water life cycle from captured rain water to plant irrigation through the design of earth cast vessels and benches along the pathways. Artist Thomas Sayre responded to the landscape design and worked with the design team to fully integrate the vessels, runnels and benches. A water garden on the south side is a sculptural celebration of the Water Centre’s purpose and values, signifying the importance of water to all forms of life. A long, narrow floor plate, positioned east/west, is configured to maximize exposure to sunlight. 85% of the spaces have fantastic views of the downtown core with operable windows, reducing the need for electric light even at this northern latitude. The electric lighting systems and controls complement the design. Lighting power density throughout the building is targeted to not exceed 0.5W/sq ft. A low-voltage system includes motion detectors, photo electric cells, daylight censors and override switches to provide zone switching of lighting between regular and after hours, as well as daylight sensing in the atrium and perimeter offices. Interior glazing provides daylight even to enclosed spaces and meeting rooms. A clean air environment is an important design component of the Water Centre. Special care was made to select construction and furnishing products with low volatile organic compounds including all adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpeting, furniture, and even cleaning products used for on-going maintenance. Operable windows allow for personal control and comfort through a wider range of temperatures. Indoor air quality is further enhanced with the under-floor air delivery system, taking advantage of the natural tendency of hot air to rise. Fully controllable floor diffusers allow employees to customize the flow of clean warm air into their immediate work areas without compromising neighboring climates. Exhaust air is recycled into the underground parkade, reducing the area’s make-up air requirements. Water savings of over 50% are achieved with low consumption fixtures, rainwater harvesting and zero irrigation landscaping. Rainwater from the main and green roofs are treated in two bioswale wetlands and stored in an underground cistern, providing more than enough water needed for irrigation in the typical prairie season. Drought-resistant native plants and grasses require little water, shrubs act as wind-breakers and retain moisture for the grasses and wildflowers, and plants in the wetlands help filter water from the roof and parking lot. This state-of-the-art sustainable building is designed for long-term flexibility, to meet the needs of the city for up to 100 years with a life-span that includes the ultimate recycling of everything on site. The Water Centre demonstrates that the revitalization of marginal land, centrally located, can add life to a city and encourage redevelopment of the surrounding community.


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    Site Plan South Facade East Facade Night View, North Facade Ground Floor Plan Section View East Entry South Balcony South Atrium South Facade 2 Site Plan South Facade East Facade Night View, North Facade Ground Floor Plan Section View East Entry South Balcony South Atrium South Facade 2
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