The $500 million BMO Centre Expansion project is on track to open in 2024, providing Calgary with an event venue that will attract large international and national conventions and conferences.
Work on the 560,000-square-foot expansion project marked a key milestone with the first piece of structural steel installed on site in December.
“The start of the steel is a significant milestone as it means that the project is tracking on schedule, despite the challenges we’ve had over the last two years with the global pandemic, and it means that we’re on track for a complete date of June 2024,” says Kerri Souriol, director, Park Development, Calgary Stampede.
Serving as Calgary’s premier venue for consumer and trade shows, special events, meetings and conferences since 1982, the facility is now undergoing its most substantial renovation ever.
The expansion will increase the BMO Centre’s total floor space to more than one million square feet, more than doubling its rentable area. It will be the largest such facility in Western Canada and will give Calgary top-tier destination status in the competitive international meetings and conventions market.
The project architects are Populous, Stantec and S2 Architecture. The team was tasked with designing a building that captures the essence of Calgary, conveying the best of the city to convention patrons and Calgarians alike. PCL Construction broke ground in spring 2021.
“The project’s design reflects the traditional history of the area, and the surrounding landscape – creating a stunning gathering place where people can connect and experience the best Calgary has to offer in the Culture + Entertainment District. Our team’s careful attention to the design of the architecture, the interiors and the landscaped public realm – we are confident this project is an example of world-class place-making at its finest,” says lead architect Léo Lejeune, senior principal, Stantec.
RJC’s role as structural engineer was to work alongside the design team to take the architect’s creative vision and turn it into a building that could stand safely and function efficiently for a wide variety of events.
“Creating such large spaces with so few columns necessitated the use of large, long-span trusses. The trusses over the Exhibit Hall span 90 feet and are 15 feet deep. The roof trusses clear span 180 feet over the ballrooms and are up to 20 feet deep,” says Amy Rohof, project engineer with RJC Engineers.
“The canopy structure is one of the more complex systems of structural steel on the building. It is a spine of trusses that start at over 30 feet deep and tapers down to less than three feet deep at the tip, taking the complex, sloping, curving shape, and turning it into a series of simpler shapes. No two trusses in the canopy structure are alike. That span is longer than the length of an Olympic swimming pool.”
The upper floor structures and elevators are sized to accommodate a full-sized pickup truck driving almost anywhere within the building, including up to the third floor ballrooms – providing an incredibly flexible system for the Calgary Stampede.
“One of the primary design considerations in the building was that the design loads are heavier than normal to allow the Calgary Stampede the flexibility to host almost any event imaginable,” continues Rohof. “The design loads are two, three, and four times higher than that of a typical assembly building.”
The new building’s interior spaces will be ample and adaptable with bright, open and scalable ballrooms, meeting rooms wired for instant connectivity, and smaller breakout areas that safely facilitate those all-important human connections.
The structural scope is a collaboration between RJC and Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA).The three-storey building has a stacked program of Exhibition Halls at ground level, meeting rooms and amenity spaces at Level 2 and a third floor ballroom level above.
Construction of Exhibit Hall F was completed in late 2020. The completion added 100,000 square feet of exhibition space on the north side of the existing convention centre.
”The BMO Centre expansion will provide state of the art facilities for community engagement and economic benefit through job creation and tourism,” says Steve McDonough, president and chairman of the Calgary Stampede. “The expansion will anchor Calgary on the international map as a leading convention host, attracting larger conventions and meetings to our province.”