The Project

The Calgary Stampede unveiled the BMO Centre Expansion design in June 2020.

The project is being completed alongside development partner CMLC and project architects, Stantec, Populous, and S2 Architecture. The innovative new building will feature three floors of tradeshow and convention space, including new exhibition halls, two ballrooms and a central hub. The exterior showcases retail and café spaces, a pavilion and four public art installations.

Western Canada’s largest convention facility will provide a comprehensive, high-quality offering for meeting organizers, attendees and invited guests. It will offer top-tier meeting and banquet space in addition to improved access and efficiency behind the scenes through state-of-the-art back of house facilities such as loading areas, food preparation space and building systems.

BMO Centre Expansion Design Features

  • Largest Convention Facility in Western Canada
  • Over 1 Million Total Square Feet
  • 102,500 SF New Exhibit Hall
  • 68,000 SF New Meeting Room
  • 50,000 SF New Ballroom
  • 118,500 SF Back of House Service Area
  • Central Hub & Atrium
  • Prefunction Area
  • Outdoor Plaza & Pavilion
  • 4 Public Art Sites
  • Market Café
  • HQ Hotel Connection
  • Motor Coach Parking

The Team

Early in 2019, CMLC and the Calgary Stampede issued an open Request for Proposals to identify a prime design consultant team. After carefully reviewing 12 proposals that arrived across North America, CMLC and the Calgary Stampede selected a team comprising of three architectural firms: Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture. Together, they have extensive international experience in convention centre design, intimate understandings of the building and a strong sense of how it both fits into and enhances the local community.

Chosen for their complementary expertise — Stantec’s global involvement in transformational community projects; Populous’ innovative practices in international convention centre design and S2’s local experience in projects on the Stampede grounds and in east Victoria Park— this three-firm best-in-class design team was assembled to bring the Calgary Stampede’s vision to life. 

Of course, a project of this magnitude would be impossible without a rock-solid supporting team. To round out the BMO Expansion team, CMLC and the Calgary Stampede have also enlisted convention venue operations specialist HLT Advisory Inc., project management firm M3 Development and Construction Management from PCL Construction. 

“Together we will design and build a world-class facility that celebrates Calgary, captures the Stampede spirit and enlivens the city’s Culture and Entertainment District year-round.” –  BMO CENTRE EXPANSION PROJECT TEAM MISSION STATEMENT

Design Approach

Many industry trends and user expectations influenced the BMO Centre Expansion design.

COVID-19 – While the ultimate impacts COVID-19 on public facilities are still being researched and analyzed, the stage of the BMO project when the pandemic hit, allowed the project team the opportunity to understand how the building design and operational model needs to reflect the health and safety requirements in a post-COVID world. It was an opportune time in the project’s life cycle to address these considerations and be innovative in the response.

Calgary Stampede is also closely monitoring changes to travel patterns influencing the meetings and convention industry. Early indications show that International travel is expected to be restored to the equivalent of 2019 levels approximately one year prior to the opening of the BMO Centre expansion. 

Increasing technology requirements – With meeting goers toting multiple Wi-Fi-connected devices—on top of the usual audio-visual equipment and connectivity requirements for presentations—accommodating high bandwidth demands has become a primary (and growing) consideration.

Safety and security – Convention venues must increasingly balance the need to provide positive user experiences with the requirement to integrate tighter safety and security measures into the venue’s design and operations.

Energy efficiency and sustainable design – Designers need to consider users’ evolving needs, expectations and experiences into a venue’s design and construction materials. This includes, for example, using sustainable materials, natural lighting, and materials/layouts that accommodate modern space, sustainability and technology requirements.

“The experience” – Meeting planners and attendees are increasingly looking for a unique experience when choosing a convention destination—preferring those that deliver “a sense of place” that’s representative of the destination. 

Project Timeline