Explore Saint Patrick’s Island

JB |


mC:t    2015.06.03

Welcome back Saint Patrick’s Island! Its very nice to re-meet you.


Saint Patrick’s Island, one of Calgary’s oldest parks, has been closed for numerous months as it received a “face lift” from the combined efforts of the CMLC (Calgary Municipal Land Corperation), W Architecture based in New York, and Denver based Civitas. The project was completed on July 31st 2015, just in time for the Heritage Day long weekend.


Most parts of the 31–acre park remain entirely natural, while other spaces have been adapted to accommodate different public uses. The refurbishment of Saint Patrick’s Island included the addition of trails, an amphitheatre and playgrounds, lagoons, an elevated rise with views toward downtown (and the City’s next great winter toboggan hill) and much more! This park has come a long way from being one of Calgary’s original Frisbee Golf courses.




The park facilitates the connection between its users and the surrounding natural environment, allowing for numerous stops along the way via park outlooks. These specific points along the pathways provide the opportunity for visitors to contemplate their surroundings while re-imagining the environment.




The boardwalks are carefully placed above the foliage, respecting the natural habitat while allowing the public passage to examine the forest floor below.


The inserted architecture utilizes natural materials in its fabrication to compliment the various elements on the island. The heavy use of wood, contrasted with galvanized steel, creates a striking balance of inserted design with the natural environment.




Though the park is situated in the core of Calgary, it is hard to believe that you are so close to the urban environment. Saint Patrick’s Island breaks away from Calgary’s urban horizontal and vertical grid structure by utilizing a diagonal form for its pathways and sitting arrangements. Even the outdoor art piece, Bloom, by Michel De Broin, expands into the air at a multitude of angles, employing vertical space. The park creates a beautiful retreat from the urban environment.


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Once a public space is created it is up to its users on how they engage the park. The Saint Patrick’s Island restoration provides many devices that can be used in a multitude of ways, from picnics, meetups, concerts, etc., creating a space that is not imposing in anyway and allows the public to truly make it their own.




Upon your first visit to Saint Patrick’s Island you are instantly aware of the consideration to design in all aspects of the island’s experience, including its history, ecology, and surrounding community engagement. The park offers numerous additional features and experiences to Calgary residents, and we here at makeCalgary are excited to explore all the different features.


If you have some free time this Holiday Monday may we suggest packing a picnic and setting up on the rise to enjoy one of Calgary’s most beautiful public parks.







Next: Coming soon…
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*All photos by the author


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  1. Naji Akbar says:

    Great photographs. I like the usage of wood in the landscape design. What I also find interesting is the minimal human intervention as far as design is concerned so that the natural setting of the Park is left dominant. Thanks for posting.

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