It began with a phone call from Sue Wilmot, community engagement co-ordinator at the YWCA. Looking to garner support for enhancing their outdoor spaces, she contacted the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS).
Enter EVDS student Dani Lalonde, enthusiastic about securing an internship that would allow her to put her education to the test while making a real difference in lives of women and children in Calgary.
The project: To revitalize the outdoor plaza space surrounding the YWCA building on 3 St. and 5 Ave. SE
Conceptualized over two months, Lalonde’s plan for the plaza included 3D renderings, cost breakdown and product availability schedules. She presented her proposal to the YWCA’s executive team, which accepted and approved the first phase of the proposal –brought to fruition by contributions made by Vermilion Energy.
Phase One: A large outdoor area on the main floor littered with garbage and cigarette butts, with no colour or vibrancy.
Lalonde’s vision for the space came to be in late-August 2012 with the support of a team of Vermilion Energy volunteers who, led by Wilmot and Lalonde, power-washed the plaza, re-painted the metal railings, sanded and re-stained picnic benches, and planted 230 perennials in eight garden beds.
“I am so thankful to have been able to contribute to Wilmot’s initiatives while exercising the design skills I’ve acquired in my program, and expanding on those skills in a practical environment,” says Lalonde. “There was so much to learn from Wilmot and the staff at the YWCA, regarding everything from the not-for-profit sector, event planning, and the client-designer relationship.”
“We’ve received several compliments on the plaza enhancement project from staff and the residents who live here,” adds Wilmot. “It has been really interesting to watch the effect of the gradual improvement of this public space on all of us. Since the re-development, we’ve noticed more people eating lunch outside on the newly painted picnic tables.”
The YWCA continues to look for additional funding to fulfill Lalonde’s vision, including converting a section of the main plaza into a children's play area with playground and soft-tile resurfacing. A project, and possibly an internship, to be continued…
Article by Jessica Wallace. Images courtesy Dani Lalonde.