2022

MCHAP

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage

gh3*

Edmonton, Canada

March 2020

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Pat Hanson

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Morrison Hershfield, Morrison Hershfield, David Murray, Graham Construction

CLIENT

City of Edmonton - Carol Belanger

PHOTOGRAPHER

gh3*

OBJECTIVE

The KATG is a big building on a big site. Our response to this challenging brief aims to achieve an architecture that performs at the scale of urban infrastructure - that of the surrounding arterial traffic network - as well as that of the individual, adeptly attending to both the human and the mechanical prerequisites simultaneously.
The building rises from within a landscape of calibrated thresholds that mediate between varied conditions. Across ten-acres, this former brownfield site is transformed through pollutant removal and ecological greening, micro-climate creation, bio-swale drainage and filtering, and a dense pattern of tree planting.
The built form was conceived as a technical surface, a skin drawn across the simple elemental profile. The surface cladding wraps in the vertical direction over the roofscape to surround mechanical equipment and roof lanterns that provide natural light to the bays of the workshop below.
The design team has intentionally pursued a bold and rigorous architecture, executed at all scales, to foster dignity and respect to Edmonton’s transit employees and pride in its fleet. As a new civic landmark, the design of both the building and landscape strives to elevate the civic status of this oftentimes underappreciated building type.

CONTEXT

Proudly named after the city’s first female bus driver, the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage (KATG) signals a new kind of civic investment in municipal infrastructure in Edmonton. It is a building that acknowledges the history of its site to pre-colonial times and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and architectural excellence at a significant scale.
The new garage is home to approximately 300 ETS buses and over 400 City staff who maintain and deliver bus service for Edmontonians. Its innovative and environmentally sustainable features make it one of North America’s leading transit facilities. The LEED Silver certified garage accommodates 275 conventional buses as well as infrastructure to support 30 of the City’s 40 new electric buses. Modifications were made during design to accommodate the needs of the electric buses, including an additional emergency generator and charging stations throughout the garage. The roof is reinforced to support future installation of solar panels that will be used to power the charging stations. The roof collects rainwater, which is held in a 1.5 million litre cistern, for the facility’s bus wash system. The project is LEED Silver certified.
The 50,000m2 building also houses 5000m2 of administrative offices, conference facilities, classrooms and training rooms. KATG was designed and built with sustainability and resiliency centrally in mind. It is energy efficient, saving money and lowering emissions, further progressing Edmonton towards its 2040 environmental strategic goals. gh3* were lead design architects, interior designers and landscape architects for the project.

PERFORMANCE

At 50,000 m2 KATG is a big building on a big site. Its box-like form is broken down by its continuous surface, cost-effective freezer panels, whose stainless-steel finish and vertical corrugations unfurl across the building’s vast scale.
Visible from the surrounding arterial road network, five rooftop light wells, illuminated at night, give the building scale and boldly engage passers-by. These are capped by sculptures by Berlin artist Thorsten Goldberg that reference the topography of various mountainous regions found at the same latitude as Edmonton — ironically one of the world’s flattest landscapes. The stainless-steel sculptures synthesize with the building’s surface, adding contrast to the rigorous uniformity of the architecture, stimulating curiosity and delight whether encountered by car or by foot.
Inside, the building is powerfully pure and monochromatic. Employees enter through a generous lower-level congregating area, and up to a day-lit central atrium via a sculptural feature stair. The facility is designed to optimize the maneuvering, storage, and maintenance of the bus fleet and to promote overlap and exchange between blue- and white-collar personnel, in an almost political gesture of collegiality represented through architecture. In contrast to the conventional garage, the bus station interiors are bright white, helping to facilitate both wellness and cleanliness. Such bold and rigorous architecture, executed at all scales, offers dignity and respect to Edmonton’s transit employees, pride in its fleet, and as a new civic landmark.
Construction began on the garage in the summer of 2016 and was completed on time and on budget in late 2019.