Description of Historic Place
The Glenmore Water Treatment Plant is located on the Elbow River in south-west Calgary on the north side of the Glenmore Reservoir. The brick and stone Art Deco structure, built 1930-33, comprises a three-storey office building with a long, rectangular, one- and two-storey filtration gallery attached to the rear. The building features distinctive 'porthole' windows and sleek marble-clad, terrazzo and tiled interiors. The property was declared an American Waterworks Association landmark in 1992 and protected as a Municipal Historic Resource in 1992.
The Glenmore Water Treatment Plant has been an integral component in Calgary's water system since it became operational in 1933. The inauguration of the Glenmore Water Works System, which includes the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant, supplied Calgary, for the first time with filtered water. Since 1933 it has continuously supplied the City of Calgary with treated water. Until 1972 the Glenmore Water Treatment plant was the sole distributor of Calgary's treated water, but has since shared this function with the Bearspaw system.
The Glenmore Water Treatment Plant was developed as one of the four main components of the massive Glenmore Water Works System, that comprised a storage reservoir and dam; a pumping station; a purification plant (the Water Treatment Plant); and a pipe line system. Built 1930-33, at a cost of over $4,000,000 the Glenmore Water Works System was one of the most significant engineering projects completed in western Canada up to that time and has since been a landmark feature of the city. When complete, the system boasted one of the heaviest dams to have ever been constructed anywhere (considering its height), with a base thickness of 70', and a reservoir that was estimated to hold 16.37 billion litres of water. The project was also conceived to be an important flood control instrument, with the dam protecting low lying areas parts of the city from flood damage.
The Glenmore Water Treatment Plant was designed as a multi-stage purification system that included coagulation, sedimentation, sand filtration, and chlorination. The plant initially produced 105,991,530 litres of purified water each day, sufficient for a city of 200,000 residents, well in excess of Calgary's then population of 85,000. The plant was designed so that it could be expanded, with minimal disruption, to triple its purification capacity and produce an ultimate capacity of 317,974,590 litres of water per day. When completed the plant featured eight filters and three sedimentation tanks. Subsequent and extremely architecturally compatible expansions in 1954 and 1965 fulfilled the plants ultimate capacity with 24 filters.
The Glenmore Water Treatment Plant constitutes one of Calgary's most sophisticated and well preserved examples of Art Deco architecture. Due to the building's original close proximity to the city, its situation amidst much natural beauty, and its administrative offices, special attention was paid to ensure an attractive design befitting that of an important public building. As a result, the exterior was finished with high-quality pressed red brick and detailed with Tyndall stone. Classical references such as pilasters and its symmetrically ordered facade lend the building a formal classical character while its round, 'porthole' windows are characteristic Art Deco features and suggestive of the building's aquatic association. The interior public spaces of the building are similarly elaborated with sleek and elegant materials such as travertine floors and marble walls, while the filter gallery corridors exhibit terrazzo floors, tiled walls, and bronze and nickel-clad instrument cases and controls. Thomas Pomphrey, the staff architect at Gore, Nasmith and Storrie, the consulting engineers who were responsible for the entire project, was responsible for the design. Pomphry gained further prominence with his 1929 design of the monumental R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto.
While the Glenmore system was designed and approved in 1929, prior to the Great Depression, construction of the system became Calgary's largest relief project of the era. With the onset of the Depression, construction of the facility was changed to a make-work project. At the insistence of elected civic officials, and to the greatest extent possible, local firms, locally produced materials, and thousands of Calgarians were contracted and employed for the project, greatly benefiting the local economy.
Source: City of Calgary Heritage Planning
The exterior character-defining elements of the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant include such features as its:
- rectangular, three-storey, hipped-roof form (administration structure) with a one-storey, flat-roofed vestibule and two similar side extensions for vehicle storage, and a rear, long, rectangular, flat-roofed two-storey filtration gallery;
- reinforced concrete construction with pressed, red-brick cladding laid in common bond; Tyndall limestone cladding and detailing that includes the foundation, pilasters, quoins, belt courses, spandrels, window casings, cornice mouldings, and carved logo (CWW) atop the main entrance;
- regular, symmetrical fenestration comprising rectangular and round 'porthole' windows with multi-pane metal sashes; rectangular metal sash windows incorporating hopper openings (with interior guide tracks);
- bronze and glass doorway assembly with double glazed doors, transom lights, sigelights and bronze grills and spandrels;
- large, bronze, lantern-type entrance sconces;
- standing seam copper roofing (hipped roof).
The interior character-defining elements of the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant include such features as its:
- plan and arrangement of offices around a central staircase with the primary rooms of the building elevated to the second-storey;
- double-return staircase between the foyer and the second-storey with iron balustrades displaying understated aquatic motifs, iron newels and bronze railings;
- foyer and stair hall of the building with three-quarter height, book-matched Notre Dame marble wall cladding, travertine flooring (with inlaid tile borders at first storey), and the original plaster ceilings with multiple cornice mouldings;
- metal-clad and panelled doors with original hardware;
- terrazzo flooring in the secondary areas of the administrative portion of the building;
- original washrooms with terrazzo floors, marble-clad walls, and original fixtures;
- long filtration gallery with its double-height corridor and clerestory lighting flanked by 24 filter beds;
- original wall finishes of the filtration gallery corridor that included exposed brick and painted board-formed concrete, mottled green and brown tiles, and the segmental arched, board-formed concrete finish of the ceiling;
- green and pink terrazzo flooring of the filtration gallery corridor;
- marble and tile-clad instrument tables of three different periods lining the filtration gallery with their marble tops and bronze and nickel controls and instrument cases;
- polygonal wall openings between the filter gallery corridor and the filter beds;
- glazed doorway assembly between the administrative offices and the filtration gallery with its double doors, transoms and sidelights.