Professional engineer Vivin Thomas, capital projects engineer with the Calgary Parking Authority, drives around the concrete-laden and tree-flanked roads of the East Village in the black BMW he spends his spare time fixing up. He zooms beside, atop, and below his past development projects, while a basketball lolls about in the back seat.
He is on his way to his newest accomplishment—the Platform Innovation Centre and Parkade, which opened on May 26, 2021—to marvel at the finality of its completion and its engineered dexterity to morph to meet the future needs of the area. Leading this 1,000,000-square-foot, $80-million project design and build has enveloped two and a half years of his professional life.
He’s also going there to shoot some hoops.
Art around innovation
As he circles into the building, he glances around at the concrete balls lining the entrance and reflective half-globes spotting the ceiling, leading drivers like mirrored beacons into the open-air parkade and innovation centre of the future. These design choices echo throughout the seven-floor oval structure—it is one of the first convertible parkades in North America.
As a project, this was really forward-thinking. I think as a growing city, we need to look at new opportunities. I love cars, but we must think about new forms of technology, innovation, and transportation—we must also look at it from the lens of the environment. I think the City of Calgary is doing its part to make sure we do the right thing for the future and future generations.”
The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA), Platform Calgary, and the City of Calgary birthed this project seven years ago as part of the East Village Redevelopment Plan. The city needed parking around the new Calgary Central Library, Bow Valley College, City Hall, the Stampede grounds, and the BMO Event Centre, but wanted a building that would contribute more to the downtown core—now and in the future.
The CPA already owned land in the perfect location to develop a fitting solution, but there was one problem: surrounded by barriers, the lot was potentially undevelopable. It straddled an LRT line, and train tracks and a large water main ran alongside it. Vivin worked closely with project partners CMLC and Platform Calgary to design and engineer solutions for these barriers and successfully complete construction.