Underpasses linking downtown Calgary and the Beltline have traditionally been dark, hostile places. We're so glad that this sad state of affairs is finally
changing. The City of Calgary is in the process of systematically
upgrading them and turning them into well-designed spaces that people
will make a detour to experience.
The latest to open is a unique and dynamic public art installation with a historical theme in the 8th Street S.W. underpass.
The makeover is intended to make the important link between downtown and the Beltline safer and more attractive. Public art makes the space interesting and inviting for pedestrians. An installation designed by David Rokeby refers to the heritage of the underpass and the role of the railway in Calgary.
The S-curve design between both sidewalks reflects the curve of tracks
in the surrounding area. LED panels on both sides scroll snippets from
The City of Calgary describes it like this:
"Built in 1910 and located between 8 and 10 Avenue, the 8 Street S.W.
underpass has served many generations of Calgarians. It was identified
as a priority improvement area due to continued high usage, averaging
nearly 9,000 pedestrians per day."
A reflective white material is used on bridges and walls to make the space feel brighter. New sidewalks and guardrails also improve the space for foot traffic.
So far the redesign is working. The space is far more attractive to walk in and the art makes people pause for a minute or two while crossing under the tracks.
We can't wait to see more of our city's underutilized spaces reimagined like this!