Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ, Alberta, Calgary Real Estate Development, Canadian Architecture Images

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ in Calgary

12 May 2023

Architects: Lemay

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ Calgary Alberta

Images: Lemay

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ, Canada

Following 15 years of development, the Indigenous-led, not-for-profit organization of the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY), in collaboration with architecture and design firm Lemay, is establishing a new youth centre in Calgary’s Forest Lawn neighbourhood—the traditional territory of the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Iyarhe Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina Nations, as well as the Metis Nation of Region 3.

Projected to be completed by March 2024, the youth centre represents a built solution of accessibility, safety, cultural relevance, and efficiency through a collaborative design process with Lemay. Long in the making since USAY first began in 1999, and with careful attention to cultural detail in its interior design and architecture, its form complements its purpose as a place of belonging and personal development for the thousands of Indigenous youth USAY supports between the ages of 12 and 29.

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ Calgary Alberta

“USAY is thrilled to announce the construction of our new building, which will serve as a safe and supportive space in Calgary where we can empower Indigenous youth with the resources and support they need to succeed,” says LeeAnne Ireland, Executive Director of USAY. “With this new building, we will be able to expand our programming and reach even more young people in the community. We believe that this project will have a significant and positive impact on the lives of Indigenous youth in Calgary, and we are excited to see the difference it will make.”

Measuring nearly 5,000 square feet, the structure provides for Calgary’s urban Indigenous youth through three primary spaces found across two floors: The main floor combines a primary programming space for communal gathering and eating aligned with the Indigenous worldview of feasting, and is capable of supporting youths identifying as non-binary, which connects to a multipurpose Maker’s Space for USAY’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programming, learning opportunities, and cultural exchange for youth.

On the second floor, space is dedicated to staff offices, partnership meetings, and overflow areas for youth skill-building, practicums, and employment opportunities. This leads out to a rooftop garden equipped for traditional medicines and teachings alongside communal seating that will allow for smudging, constellation teachings with Elders, self-care, and other activities under its pergola. Adjacent to the building is a 6,400 square foot outdoor lot that can host anything from sports to markets, food handouts, employment fairs, drum circles, and more.

“Lemay’s practice model is set up to create open dialogues and take time to create space for understanding, and USAY’s youth centre demonstrates the weight we place on meaningful, participatory approaches to co-designing space for communities,” explains Grace Coulter Sherlock, Regional Director of Lemay’s Western Canada office and Design Director for USAY’s youth centre. “That’s how we could best create a place that’s as safe as it is essential.”

Co-designed and co-authored through a close, participatory relationship with USAY, Lemay’s planning and design addresses the organization’s daily and long-term needs. Each of the youth centre’s spaces are made to be both distinct and permeable between one another, with barrier-free entries and hallways mediated by wood and translucent polycarbonate panels to create a sense of both togetherness and privacy.

Designed to achieve a sustainable balance, the USAY youth centre uses passive strategies such as solar gain and holistic elements of biophilia and natural lighting to enhance its site’s natural materials of wood and plant life, as well as rooftop space for the future integration of solar panels to reduce operational costs through energy efficiency.

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ Calgary Alberta

On the precipice of completion, USAY is currently seeking donations to bring their dream to fruition: With their recent allocation of $3,920,000 from the Government of Canada, funding has been confirmed for nearly 90% of the centre. However, as this funding is highly fixed and was administered before current inflation rates, the organization has undergone fundraising for the remaining $500,000 in order to fully realize it.

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ in Calgary, Alberta – Building Information

Architecture: Lemay – https://lemay.com/
Client: USAY
Interior Design: Lemay
Landscape Architecture: Lemay
Sustainability: Lemay
Structural Engineering : ELEMA
Civil Engineering : McElhanney
Mechanical & Electrical Engineering: MCW
Geotechnical Engineering: Terracon
Real Estate: Avison and Young
General contractor: Synergy

About USAY
The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth has been an influential not-for profit organization in Calgary since 2001. Striving to provide essential programming and services to Calgary’s Indigenous youth between the ages of 12 and 29, USAY is a fundamental facilitator of urban Indigenous youth’s empowerment and ability to envision and attain a healthy sustainable future, while upholding traditional Indigenous values and supporting diversity.

About Lemay
Lemay has been imagining new ways to create spaces that engage users and bring people together since 1957. Over 400 architects, designers, industry leaders, and change-makers work tirelessly to cultivate innovation in their own backyards and in communities around the world. Inspired and strengthened by transdisciplinary creativity, the firm has also developed its very own NET POSITIVETM approach to guide teams towards sustainable solutions that shape a better future. With the human experience at its heart, Lemay strives to design with empathy and create spaces to grow.

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ Calgary Alberta

Renders: Lemay

Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth HQ, Calgary, Alberta images / information received 120523

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, North America

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