Plus 15 Network Study
2018-19 | Calgary, AB
McElhanney, along with subconsultants Level Playing Field, Dialog, and Entro, created a network plan for the City of Calgary that improves the current Plus 15, a roughly 16km system of above ground pedestrian corridors and bridges in downtown Calgary.
The Plus 15, so called because of its height in feet above ground, began to develop more or less organically throughout the downtown core the 1970s. The interconnected and climate controlled network is especially well-used during the winter months when cold temperatures and snowy sidewalks create significant mobility challenges for pedestrians. Some links of the system serve up to 32,000 pedestrians a day.
The goal of the project was to improve the current Plus 15 and plan for its expansion the future. The key challenges the team addressed in the study included:
- Linkages | With the system being built ad hoc, it had many gaps and missing links. The team identified missing and future links, prioritized through stakeholder engagement and technical review.
- Accessibility | Some links were built in the 1970s and 1980s and do not meet current accessibility standards. The team conducted an accessibility review to identify critical issues and possible mitigations.
- Wayfinding | The network could be a maze for those unused to it. The plan provides recommendations to improve the Plus 15 network information, architectural integration, and use of new technologies such as a GPS enabled app to support wayfinding.
- Placemaking | Placemaking helps generate economic opportunities, creates a welcoming environment for pedestrians, and draws more tourists. The team explored several types of placemaking opportunities for the Plus 15 bridges and in the connecting buildings.
- Hours of operation | Many building owners lock their buildings and close their sections of the system after business hours, which creates a discontinuous system. The team recommended unified hours of operations based on study of the network use.
Stakeholder and public engagement was a critical component of the Plus 15 Network Plan. We created a three phase engagement program to capture input from the different levels of stakeholders. The project team incorporated stakeholder feedback to create the prioritization criteria.
The final report deliverable provided the client with a comprehensive understanding of the current Plus 15 network, how it is used and accessed, its infrastructure, as well as an implementation strategy that included short, medium, and long term improvements that aim to improve network connectivity, accessibility, wayfinding, and placemaking throughout downtown Calgary.