Battistella Developments raises the bar for architectural design in the Calgary condo market
Battistella Developments’ condo highrises are marked by explosive colour and sharp artistry, boldly standing in several trendy neighbourhoods across Calgary’s urban core.
Their names – and striking architecture – have become iconic: Orange, Chocolate, Chartreuce, Brunette, Ink, Pixel and Colours.
The goal is to bring something unique to the market, “every single time,” said Chris Pollen, Battistella’s director of sales and marketing.
Battistella’s distinctive architectural branding launched in 2003 with Orange, a warehouse-like loft development in East Village, a neighbourhood then notable for a rough expanse of parking lots. Inside, Orange features polished concrete floors and exposed concrete ceilings, while the exterior is marked by corrugated steel cladding and orange accents.
The use of industrial elements and colour, including mosaic art walls and entryways, continues to inform Battistella’s design aesthetic. The company adds vibrant streetscape art to its build communities, which have included Bridgeland, East Village, Kensington and Victoria Park.
“It is the ability to design buildings that complement the neighbourhood, but don’t blend in,” said Pollen. “They set the architectural tone.”
Twenty-storey Colours, for example, includes a two-storey, coloured glass wall that wraps around the building, hiding an above-ground parking garage.
“It is using architecture and design to solve a problem: making a parkade look good,” said Pollen, noting Battistella was the first to use this technique while bringing a signature art piece to the neighbourhood. The company’s latest project, Ink, brings Battistella back to the now-booming East Village.
Pollen says everything about Ink is architecturally and functionally unique, as well as appealing to urbane buyers, who snapped up 75 per cent of the units during a downturn. And while Battistella buyers skew predominately young, he notes 30 per cent of Ink’s buyers have been downsizers. What does mark a Battistella buyer is a love of style and good architecture, and that means they come from every walk of life and cultural background.
Ink sits sandwiched between two other neighbourhood projects, so the challenge was ensuring each condo unit felt comfortable, while keeping them affordable.
Ink’s micro condos (starting at 358 square feet and going up to two-bedroom, two-bathroom units of 689 square feet) feature Battistella’s signature floor-to-ceiling windows (“glass curtain walls”), exposed pipes and polished concrete floors.
Atop the building’s 20-foot podium sits a one-metre thick transfer slab (three times the depth of other floors and with 150 tonnes of rebar) forming the structural base for 14 storeys of condos.
The condo balconies (some wraparound, others unit length) alternate floors, so that from the street, the building will seem to twist. Pink, blue, yellow and red will individually colour each side of the building, slated to open next year.
“It is the ability to design buildings that complement the neighbourhood, but don’t blend in. They set the architectural tone.” – Chris Pollen, Battistella Developments director of sales and marketing
Ink will be only 75 feet wide, smaller than the building lot itself, making it look and feel slender and delicate, says Pollen.
When contemplating a new project – “we only do one building at a time,” said Pollen – the company puts together a team that usually includes local architects with innovative ideas.
While some design elements have come from other cities – including Vancouver, Toronto and Portland— Pollen says local talent is important because Calgary’s cold temperatures and location amidst two rivers are important architectural considerations.
Battistella makes bold design statements, but also ensures its buildings are not out of place in the neighbourhoods they inhabit.
To illustrate this point, Pollen cites Lido, which was built in Kensington last year. The first three storeys are clad in brick and house retail space that enhances the streetscape. On top of that is a five-storey, glass condo tower with silver and white accents, stepped back from the street. Again, colour animates and announces the entryway, with a nod to the community’s history displayed in the restored sign for Lido Café — a popular café on 10th Street for many years.
“It all fits, but it is unlike anything Kensington has ever seen before,” said Pollen.