Flat-out fantastic

Every two years, the Prairie Design Awards – a tri-provincial initiative – are given in recognition of significant contributions to Canada’s architectural landscape. The 2012 award ceremony took place this past April at the Fairmont Banff Springs, in conjunction with the Alberta Association of Architect’s biennial Banff Session event. A total of nine awards were given out: three Awards of Excellence and six Awards of Merit.

The winners of the three Awards of Excellence are nothing less than spectacular.

First up is a lark of a parking garage, designed by Bing Thom Architects with Marshall Tittemore Architects. Preserving a critical viewscape between the historic campus of SAIT Polytechnic and downtown Calgary, the three-level parkade is tucked into an existing hillside, creating a green-roof playing field, with only two sides of the structure visible. As for those exposed sides, they’re clad in semi-perforated metal screens (namely, Ombrae Image Screens) that not only allow natural light and ventilation into the interior, but also play and interact with the light to depict a moving cloud-filled sky (see Contents,
page 7, for a view of the south facade).

Next, we have an open-air performance venue by 5468796 Architecture Inc., who, with this project, has thought inside and outside the box to stunning effect. Located in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the OMS Stage (a.k.a. The Cube) is a multi-functional environment that shifts from vibrant performance space to interactive pavilion and focal point; during performances, the flexible aluminum skin draws back to reveal the stage and concrete structure within. Projections displayed on the skin create an ephemeral work of art.

Finally, there’s a backstage, seasonal kitchen facility, designed by Syverson Monteyne Architecture. During the Winnipeg Folk Festival, 10,000 meals a day are prepared and served at this completely open building; thanks to sliding walls that shut down the sides, La Cuisine serves as a secure, weather-protected storage facility the other 360 days of the year. The project team sourced an existing modular steel structure slated for demolition and used most of its component parts -– in harmony with the festival’s environmental policy. 

SAIT Polytechnic Parking Garage, OMS Stage and La Cuisine: I salute you.  cI