YW Calgary Hub Facility

Creating a Place of Comfort and Inclusiveness

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YW Calgary Hub Facility

Realizing a Vision

Designed to be 'a cohesive, supportive environment for women and their families', the vision for the new 127,000-square-foot YWCA Calgary is to provide a safe, healthy, and caring environment where women in crisis may heal, recover, and grow. Along with the principles of trauma-informed design and community engagement, this vision resulted in six design drivers that were applied to every facet of the project: well-being, connected, inclusive, beacon, comfortable and safe. Invited by the YW to design the wayfinding system for their new Hub facility, Entro wanted to echo this intent for the facility while providing innovative opportunities for storytelling and human connection. It was clear to us that art, and its power to celebrate culture, diversity, and community, could play a key role in realizing many of these drivers.
  • Client

    YW Calgary Hub Facility

  • Location

    Calgary, Alberta

  • Sector


  • Discipline

    Art Program, Placemaking, Wayfinding, Donor Recognition

  • Architect


  • Collaborators

    Mary-Beth Laviolette, Independant Curator

  • Photography

    Jason Dziver

  • Awards

    Graphis Design Annual Silver Award RGD Social Good Coda Awards Top 100

Brightly coloured tapestry artwork hanging near staircase. Artist Credit: Leah Gravells, Horizon, 2019.
Detail of tapestry artwork. Artist Credit: Leah Gravells, Horizon, 2019.

Art in Its Many Forms

Together with independent curator Mary-Beth Laviolette, we fashioned a unique program that blends art and design with social need and service to create a welcoming home-like environment. We developed a master plan to determine how works of art could integrate with wayfinding – as landmarks, room identification beacons, as the backdrop to activity spaces, and for donor recognition.

In collaboration with Project Director Lori Van Rooijen, we set a thematic approach for the commissioned works that would primarily celebrate local women artists. Fibre, textiles, and Indigenous beadwork were chosen for the majority of the program because they have long been traditional art forms made by women. This was later broadened to include paintings and mixed media works.


The YW commissioned nineteen Alberta-based artists for 60 room identification pieces and seven larger works. An additional selection of 23 long-term loans were made available through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The City of Calgary Civic Art Collection, and the Collectors’ Gallery of Art.

“Art is for all – it is something everyone should have access to and it creates sense of welcome. The number one comment we get is that the building is amazing and the art adds to the warmth and overall wellness of the spaces."

- Project Director Lori Van Rooijen

A series of portraits representing various ages and ethnicities of women who use or work at the YWCA. Artist Credit: Janice Tanton, In Conversation with Myself and My Sisters, 2019.
Donor Recognition on a Whole New Level

Donor recognition in the main welcoming space features a series of portraits by Janice Tanton. These represent various ages and ethnicities of women who use or work at YWCA. All of the donor names are projected across the portrait banners in a randomized order and scale that avoids a traditional donor hierarchy.

Wall-mounted directional signage.
Framed Cross-stitch depicting a woman mounted to a room sign. Artist Credit: Allison Tunis,
Artwork depicting owl mounted to a room sign. Artist Credit: Lisa Brawn, Snowy Owl, 2019.

In this project, original art creates an environment which is less institutional and more sympathetic to the individual. Art and design combine to support YW’s desire to create a homelike, inclusive setting for the women they serve.

To find out more about YWCA Calgary and the YW Calgary Hub facility, a recipient of the 2019 Calgary Mayor’s Award for Urban Design here.


View a listing of the artists whose work is included in the project here.

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