Construction on the $62-million expansion of Calgary’s Vivo Centre has begun with EllisDon at the helm.
The work will add 135,000 square feet of new and renovated space including the first-of-its-kind indoor park that will give visitors the feeling of an outdoor park while being protected from extreme Alberta weather.
“It is unique and the first one I have ever heard of,” said Joanne Foster, a senior project manager at EllisDon. “Essentially it will have mounds, trees and even a fireplace. Being in Calgary, where we get such harsh winters, people can feel like they are in a park.”
The expansion includes a new six-lane, 25-metre pool, which will help address long wait lists for swimming lessons.
Crews will build four new community rooms for events and meetings of up to 150 people. Also being built is the Research and Innovation Lab where work on social research and innovation will be conducted. The lab will be used by community leaders to identify common challenges, work together towards a solution, measure success and capture the results.
The facility’s fitness centre will be expanded 60 per cent with a focus on “fitness for life” and “building health habits.”
Vivo stated it will encourage an environment that celebrates the social aspects of fitness and group training while also providing opportunities for meditation and relaxation.
The design also calls for an outdoor plaza for groups to gather and events to be hosted.
Foster explained the expansion will heavily focus on sustainability and accessibility. It will target accessibility standards and LEED Gold. However, the biggest challenge during the project’s construction will be doing work in an operational facility.
“It is still a full operating facility and the pool opens up again July 14,” said Foster. “Obviously doing construction and renovation to a recreation facility while it is operating is very complex. We have to make sure it is safe and that is a big challenge, especially with the province coming out of COVID and people dying to go swimming and have events.”
But in the end it will be worth it. Foster noted as many of the project team are Calgary residents, the work is personal.
“All of us live around there. I taught my children how to swim at Vivo as babies,” said Foster. “I’ve been going there for 20 years. We are invested in this community. We utilize the facility and we are incredibly excited.”
The project is expected to take 18-20 months to complete, will create 320 jobs in Calgary during construction, provide on-going employment for another 60 new Vivo staff post-construction and be open together with the community in first part of 2023.
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