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June 01, 2013

Condoscapes - Making its mark

MARK on 10th elevates Calgary’s condo design edge

Richard White

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From an urban design perspective, Qualex-Landmark’s new MARK on 10th condo will elevate Calgary’s sense of design in three ways — building architecture, landscape architecture and public art.

According to lead architect, Foad Rafii, principal of Rafii Architect, “MARK’S architecture is inspired by the new energy and vibrancy of the city of Calgary as a design/creative city.” The building has a duality in its design, as it is two tall rectangular boxes, one with a white skin with black accents on the widows, while the other is mostly glass, with colour panels. Rafii, says, “it speaks to the rational and irrational or left and right side of the brain, which links to fact that it is located in the city’s design district, yet connects to a huge corporate headquarters district just a few blocks away.”

The design is elegant, yet edgy, with a strong sense of contemporary clean, concise vertical lines. It will become the postcard for the Calgary’s emerging Design District. The architect uses vertical narrow coloured glass panels of sunshine yellow, peacock blue and spring green up the side of the building (they are like huge paint swatches) to add some subtle ornamentation and direct the pedestrian’s eyes up to the rooftop patio/lounge. If the next James Bond movie was filmed in Calgary, this is where Bond would hangout. Which is exactly what the architect intended, as the design is intended to appeal the young “creative class” characters who are choosing to live in the Beltline.

A unique feature of the building is the cantilevered mezzanine lounge that protrudes out of the rooftop of tower. It is completely different from anything that has been done in Calgary. It is designed to give spectacular views. Rafii claims “residents will feel they are in an observatory or control tower with an outstanding view of the city and mountains. It will rival the Calgary Tower for views.”  The 6,000-square-foot futuristic rooftop lounge is something one might expect to see in Dubai or New York with its panoramic view of Calgary’s skyline (which Rafii says rivals that of Manhattan), fire pits, sunbathing patio, media center and wet bar. It will be vying for the coolest place in Cowtown for Stampede parties.

On the third floor above the podium base is a Parisian-like garden with is own promenade, with open grass lawn for passive recreation, shade trees, and lounge seating. Imagine having your own pocket park!

The architect has cleverly placed the entrance just off the corner of 8th Street and 10th Avenue allowing for large café space right on the corner. However, people standing on the corner will be able to look into the lobby and see the Douglas Coupland artwork “Interpretation of Calgary, Alberta in the 21st century.”  He describes the work as like a box of chocolates with a series of round target like circles that represent everything from things Calgarians like to do and things that they can see in there everyday environment. The colour of each circle is meant to represent a different element of Calgary’s sense of place.

The entrance is also very innovative and inviting with a large pale yellow glass enclosure place on a 45 degree angle from the doors to the corner that will direct the eye from the street to the lobby (i.e. to see the Coupland’s artwork).

I believe MARK on 10th will not only create a new benchmark for urban design in the Design District, but across the city. It is contemporary without being crazy! 

MARK is a mixed-use high-rise condo conceived by award-winning designers Rafii Architects, in partnership with BKDI Architects Inc. and Durante-Kreuk Landscape Architects.

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