"Just weeks after the opening of St. Patrick's Island Park in Calgary, Alberta, more than 1,000 Calgarians gathered at The Rise - a 30-foot grassy knoll that doubles as a winter sledding hill - for outdoor movies. And thousands more have gotten their feet wet at The Breach, a restored channel for waterplay. A design collaboration between urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas and W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the 31-acre $20 million city island oasis in the Bow River has received awards from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, the Calgary Mayor's Urban Design Awards, AIA NY and ASLA Colorado.
Calgary's oldest park and a historical crossing for buffalo and aboriginal people, the island had been neglected, attracting crime and drug trades resulting in a decayed landscape. Located in a floodway - as well as at the center of an ambitious redevelopment strategy for Calgary's downtown - the park has been transformed into a model of environmental resiliency.
The Civitas/W team approached the project strategically, enhancing degraded and non-native areas and preserving and enhancing native areas, while providing nature-in-the-city enticements for visitors. A series of natural spaces offers a broad range of experiences including an elevated boardwalk through riparian wetland, trails in restored avian nesting habitat, river access for fishing and rafting, a picnic area, playground and a plaza with a shade structure and amphitheater.
Set within one of the most beautiful rivers flowing through a downtown metropolis in North America, the park is again a living island - renewing Calgary's connection with the river with views of island activity from downtown and vice versa. Hundreds of families walk and bike into the park daily, interacting with habitat and fostering knowledge of the natural world as they build community in the city's new backyard."