SAIT Parkade / Bing Thom Architects

© Peter Beech

Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects has just completed a new three-level parkade on the campus of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. At more than 380,000 sqf and with dimensions of 260’ by 560’, this structure and its accompanying road realignments consolidate and rationalize the current sprawled distribution of campus parking into a central facility. In turn, this structure both frees up developable land for additional facilities and uses parking as a means of reinvigorating campus life. Given the massive size of the building, the primary design challenge was mitigating its actual and perceived scale. BTA established a profound relationship between the building and its surrounding landscape by nestling the building into an existing hillside under an existing playing field where the SAIT Trojans play year-round, leaving only the east and south sides of the parkade fully visible. The roof level is the same as the ground level of the gothic Heritage Hall – one of the centerpieces of the campus – so that the building does not obstruct views of the historic 1921 building. Glass pyramids articulate the staircases and create atria that allow natural light down into the structure.

Architect: Bing Thom Architects
Location: SAIT Main Campus, 1301 16th Ave NW, Calgary, ,
Architect of Record: Marshall Tittemore Architects
Project Team: Bing Thom, Michael Heeney, Venelin Kokalov, Ling Meng, Shinobu Homma, Jacqueline Wiles, Derek Kaplan, Yong Sun, Marshall (Bing Thom Architects) Bill Marshall, John Souleles, Paul O’Rourke (Tittemore Architects)
Structural Engineer: Cohos Evamy integratedesign
Mechanical/Civil Engineer: AECOM Canada Inc
Electrical Engineer: Crossey Engineering Ltd, Beaubien Maskell Engineering Inc
Landscape Architect: SWA Group, IBI Landplan
Geotechnical: EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd
Building Code: LMDG Building Code Consultants
Specifications: Marshall Tittemore Architects
Traffic: Bunt & Associates
Costing: Western Cost Consultants
Lighting: Crossey Engineering, William Lam
Construction: PCL Construction Management Inc.
Project Manager: MKT Arkle Development Management Inc
Project Area: 387,000 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects), Peter Beech

© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)

Bing Thom of BTA explains, “By siting the building carefully, we were able to preserve a critical landscape and visual relationship between the campus and downtown Calgary while respecting the historic heart of the SAIT Polytechnic campus.” Continuing the relationship between landscape and design is the pixilated façade, designed by BTA in collaboration with Vancouver artist Roderick Quin. The east and south facades of the parkade are clad in metal screens that have thousands of holes strategically punched into them, allowing natural light and ventilation into the interior of the parkade, while simultaneously creating a giant exterior art piece that interacts with sunlight to both depict, and blend into, the Alberta prairie sky.

© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)

“Through our design, we tried to humanize what might otherwise be just an enormous, soulless structure,” Thom explains. “What we’ve done, essentially, is turned a quotidian building type into something that becomes part of the landscape in a simple and elegant way,” states Thom.

© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)
© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)
© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)
© Nic Lehoux (Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects)

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Cite: "SAIT Parkade / Bing Thom Architects" 27 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • howard

    there are quite a few brilliances here again, the canucks outshine the competition architecturally.

  • bopp

    can’t help feeling the footballfield is misplaced here.

  • shady sydes

    anyone know what kind of wood product was used for the glazed entry portal structure? looks like some kind of engineered timber product

    • That’s Questionable

      I believe it’s LVL, I went SAIT and the build of the wood has the resemblance of LVL, unless there’s something else that looks like it.