Heavy’s Plan-Build: Carrington

While Heavy has the opportunity to plan and build art installations all across North America, we still enjoy adding to the visual identity of our home city, Calgary. Most recently, we completed an entry feature for Mattamy Homes for their new community of Carrington.


The Plan:

Engaged to be part of the project, Heavy teamed up with NAK Design Strategies, the landscape architect for Carrington, to help create a concept for the community’s feature elements. Before jumping into the design, it was important to understand the story behind the project, the ‘why’. In this case, Mattamy Homes wanted the Carrington community to have an innovative design, and promote an active outdoor lifestyle as part of Calgary’s Rotary/Mattamy Greenway – a 138km network of parks and pathways that circles the city. Their vision included iconic pieces that not only helped define the visual identity of the community, but also facilitated a gathering space and encouraged people to interact outside and be proud of where they lived.

Armed with the ‘why’, the budget and a tight timeline to develop the concept, it was time to get down to business. Heavy and NAK locked ourselves in a room in Toronto for a weekend, with specific deliverables to be accomplished by the hour. Collaboratively, NAK lead the conceptual design while Heavy helped work through the constructability and feasibility of the concepts. Presented with multiple directions, the client chose the one that spoke to them the most, and the design team took it further.


Upon the selection of the steel tree canopy concept, the team’s next steps were to develop the concept to fit the budget and schedule. Heavy engaged an engineer, and began presenting potential materials, finishes, and fabrication methods, that would maintain the projects overall goals. It is the Heavy Way to make the complex simple and enjoyable, and we did not want to show the client something that was not achievable for the parameters set forth. Understanding what aspects of the project were most important to Mattamy, we explored everything from scale, colour, and lighting options and began creating the construction plan and Class 1 estimate. With the direction, materials, and the plan figured out, we were able to present to the client exactly what they would receive for their budget, and provide them cost-certainty for the project. Upon final approvals, we were finally ready to move into fabrication.




The Build:

It was at this stage we worked through mock-ups, including the stylized paint finish for the columns, concrete wood texture and pigments, and a scale section of the sign to display the lighting and letters. The Carrington Community is a legacy project for Mattamy, so it was important to provide to the client something tangible to aid in understanding exactly what they will be receiving and to set the expectation.


With all standards set and approvals in place, Heavy began the fabrication. The final design included three different components. The first component consisted of 14 individual tree pods, made from mild steel. The tree pods range in height from 12.5 feet to 18 feet tall, with varying sizes of canopies.  Each canopy was coated in a grey automotive quality paint, with each column airbrushed to look amazingly like tree trunks. To create the second component, 17 of the tree pod canopies were combined to create one 2,500 ft2 behemoth canopy, weighing approximately 60,000 lbs! The third and final component of the design are the entry signs. Consisting of a cast-in-place concrete bases, pre-cast GFRC (glass fibre reinforced concrete) faux wood fence boards (which look so realistic but last forever), aluminum lettering and lighting. These two mirrored signs measure in at 36 feet long and 5 feet tall and act as the perfect accent piece for community’s attention grabbing features.


The Reality:

Heavy was honoured to be able to work with Mattamy Homes and NAK Design Strategies on this unique feature, and are proud to add this successful Plan-Build project to our portfolio. While the project was not without its road bumps, Mattamy’s willingness to go all-in with us and NAK made the solutions easy to uncover. By having an open, and collaborative process we were able to put all our cards on the table, understand what was most important to the client, execute efficiently, and have some fun while doing it. Heavy is looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Mattamy Homes and NAK Design Strategies teams, and building the next great legacy feature for their communities.