Rooted and Distinct

DIALOG architecture firm designed Belvedere Transit Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to be rooted and distinct. It’s rooted, in part, due to its architectural and physical connections to the adjacent Belvedere Station. The transit center is distinct in its use of alternating tall and short volumes, floor-to-ceiling glazed walls and predominantly exposed structure. The rooted and distinct design met numerous project goals.

Bus transit center connects at transportation complex with its form, repeating volumes and transparency

By Christopher Brinckerhoff

Photo courtesy of DIALOG

Rob Swart, AAA, OAA, MRAIC, LEED AP, principal and architect at DIALOG in Edmonton, says, “Some of the key drivers to the project were to provide for larger heated waiting areas because the transit volumes have increased over time, and to provide better views for safety out of the transit center to the bus stop, LRT building and the kiss and ride, as well as to 129th Avenue.”

The transit center, which is used by bus patrons and serves commuters using the light rail transit (LRT) Belvedere Station, replaced another building used for the purpose, which was fairly opaque, Swart says.

Furthermore, the transit center also creates a more cohesive environment and improved site and building aesthetics, Swart says. “We wanted to design a building that felt rooted with the LRT station as well as achieving those requirements. And so we think it’s an exciting design; it’s an engaging design and it’s a very welcoming design.”

Rooted Roof Form

One way the transit center is visually connected to Belvedere Station is its roof form, which matches that of a patron services building next to it that is part of the LRT station. The patron services building also has a metal element at its entrance with the same profile as both buildings’ roofs.

“[The patron services building has] got a particular sort of profile, so we basically adopted that profile as the profile for the new building,” Swart says.

The transit center’s roof form is emphasized by a zinc standing seam roof that wraps around the backside of the building by continuing the standing seam down the back walls.

Flynn Canada Ltd., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, rollformed and installed 5,400 square feet of Woburn, Mass.-based RHEINZINK America Inc.’s 0.8-mm-thick prePATINA graphite-gray zinc into standing seam roofing and wall cladding. Flynn Canada also shop-fabricated and installed a capped, concealed gutter system.

Photo courtesy of DIALOG

Castle Crenellation

While the transit center is clearly a part of and connected to the LRT station and the transportation complex, it also has its own appearance. For example, after aligning the transit center’s roofline with the patron services building, DIALOG organized the building into alternating tall and short volumes, akin to the tops of medieval castle walls, Swart says. “The profile of the transit center’s form is the profile of the LRT station, but then we introduced that sort of modulation to indicate where entrances to the transit center were, and also help organize landscaping around it. We created a series of volumes, or building steps; it’s got a sort of crenellation.”

The raised portions of the building house primary functions, heated and unheated waiting areas, a security office and other spaces. Entrances are located at lower portions.

“We have a series of four doors that go into the transit center, and even the landscaping is organized around that; the circulation around the landscaping is organized around that up/down principle,” Swart explains. “So that became a real central organizing device for the project. It was that very strong built form.”

Photo courtesy of DIALOG

Glazed Volumes, Exposed Structure

Another way the transit center design distinguishes itself from other buildings at the complex is with its glazed walls and exposed structure. Wherever possible, fasteners are concealed. To create the expansive glass walls, special attachments were engineered to maximize transparency.

“The other challenge with the building was to be able to hide the connection points of the structure, while exposing the elegant structural aspects that are sympathetic to the architecture,” Swart says. “And so we did some interesting things like conceal the eaves trough within the roof form itself. We ran rainwater leaders through the actual building structure so that you didn’t have separate rainwater leaders exposed.”

To create the large glass walls, so-called spider glass was used, Swart says. “Coordinating the structural design with the building enclosure and the glazing was very critical. We detailed the point-support glass connections to the structure using low-profile plate girts and hangers to reduce obstructions to the glass system. So the structure feels very light, and there’s an awful lot of glazing.”

In addition to a giving a sense of openness and welcoming, the largely transparent design met requirements for security as well. “We designed the building in accordance with CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) principles and created a very inviting, light structure,” Swart says. “It’s well lit so people can see where they’re going; there are no places for people to hide.”

Photo courtesy of DIALOG