The Bison Courtyard at Bear Street Banff, Alberta


How do humans become native to a place? The design for this innovative development responds to civilization’s encroachment on the Canadian Rockies National Park by using ecologically responsible development to “bring the park back in.”

Like its name, which refers to a pair of 2-3,000-year-old bison skulls unearthed on-site during construction, the design draws formal cues from the landscape around this resort town. Folding rooflines echo the profiles of the surrounding glacial peaks, the central courtyard mimics the Bow Valley’s form as it descends the ranges, and pedestrian circulation paths traversing the site mirror nearby wildlife corridors. Enlivened by the restaurant dining, native plantings, and outdoor bake oven, the courtyard serves as the development’s vibrant core. This gracious, flexible space provides a forum for public performance and film screenings. Along with commercial space and 30 affordable housing units for employees, the design preserves the historic home of Banff’s first newspaper and printing press on-site.


Mixed-use retail, commercial and residential


35,000 square feet


Completed 2006


William McDonough + Partners, Design Architect
Zeidler Carruthers Associates, Architect of Record
Siteworks, Design Landscape Architect
Scatliff+Miller+Murphy+Mcradu, Landscape Architect of Record
Read Jones Christoffersen, Structural Engineer


Honor Award Central Virginia AIA, 2006