1928.jpg

Laugheed Building

Architect: McIlroy, D.S.

Year Built: 1911

Senator James Lougheed, a prominent Calgary lawyer, businessman and politician, purchased thirty lots in downtown Calgary from the C.P.R. in 1884, and saw his land become the central core area of the city. He remained active in development, and in 1911 he built this six-storey brick structure at the corner of 1 Street and 6 Avenue SW.

The architect was D.S. McIlroy, also the designer of the First Baptist Church. A large portion of the building was occupied by the Grand Theatre Opera House (for a time known as the Sherman Grant Theatre). The Grand Theatre was used for worship by both Central United Church and Knox United Church while they were rebuilding. Besides the theatre, there were originally stores on the ground floor, commercial sample rooms on the next two storeys, and two and three-room living suites on the top floors.

The theatre remains today, although it has been divided into two cinemas, and the rest of the building is used for offices. The building is of excellent historical significance for its association with Lougheed, as well as for the theatre and the many famous persons who performed here over the years. The building is a good example of the more decorated classical commercial architecture of the day, with its brick facade enlivened by giant pilasters at every second bay and a rich cornice across the top. The ground floor has been altered over the years; otherwise the exterior is quite well preserved. The building is part of a very good historic grouping.

agt building.jpg

Alberta Telephone Building

Architect: Peter Rule

Year Built: 1929

Alberta Government Telephones (AGT) built this 4-storey structure as its Calgary headquarters in 1929. Peter Rule, architect for A.G.T., designed the building, and Fordyce and Stevenson, an important local architectural firm, were consulting architects. The building has a steel structure, faced in brown brick with Tyndall stone trim. It is significant for having had the first automatic elevators in Alberta, and for an innovative floor construction that allowed for better circulation of electrical wires and conduits. The building is an excellent example of the commercial architectural style of the time in which elements derived from the Gothic Revival (such as the buttress-like piers and the crenellated parapet) are combined with geometric Moderne forms.


2576.jpg

Utilities Building

Architect: McIlroy, D.S.

Year Built: 1939

Constructed in 1939, the City of Calgary Utilities Building was the largest single building project completed in downtown Calgary at the close of the Depression. Utilizing a self-liquidating loan scheme this civic works program was carried out under the Federal Municipal Assistance Improvement Act. Thus, the undertaking was cooperatively financed by both the Federal government and The City. When completed, the project cost $100,000; $89,000 of which was borrowed from the Federal government at the rate of 2% per annum. A boost to the economy, the project was tendered to enhance the employment of the city's skilled workers, providing work for fifty men each day. The utility departments had previously maintained administrative offices in the basement of City Hall (from 1911). With the new building, both the Electric Light System and the Waterworks Department were relocated to the same location. The departments moved into the new building on Friday, December 1, 1939, just eight months after the construction contract was awarded to Bennett & White in May of that year. Opened for public inspection in December of 1939, over 5,000 people toured the modern facilities. This building served as the centre of all civic utilities until 1957, when it became too small to meet the needs of the community. At that time, it was sold to A.G.T. who continue to own the building today. Architect D.S. McIlroy designed the two storey building using Moderne massing (parapet) and Art Deco detailing (relief sculpture in a wheat sheaf motif). Initially, he and the contractors recommended the use of reinforced concrete to City Commissioners. This was rejected by Council who voted in favour of using structural steel so as to involve more skilled labour on the project, and allow for expansion if required. The construction called for the latest equipment for ventilation, lighting, and heating. The Utilities Building was the first fully air conditioned building in Calgary. On the main floor, customers were greetd by an expansive collections office and display area featuring the use of the new "state of the art" indirect lighting, including light fixtures designed in a "thirties style". The second floor housed administrative offices, billing rooms, and a computing centre. In 1954, IBM installed one of the city's earliest computers. It was too cumbersome to be taken up the stairwell and was consequently loaded in the building via a second floor window. The exterior treatment complements the perpendicular styling of the adjacent AGT buildings. Spandrel panels and window mullions create a distinctive verticle style. The curved entrance canopy (now removed) was typical of "Moderne" detailing.
Today, the building facade remains in good repair with minor alterations. Interior modifications have resulted in the loss of the original lighting and ceiling details to the collection office and display area. Evidence of the terrazzo flooring and plaster dado detailing remain.