We sat down with Rob Adamson, DIALOG architect, to dig into his role in some of the practice’s most complex and transformative projects and to hear what’s next as he imagines what’s possible for Calgary and beyond.
DIALOG’s Rob Adamson has built a portfolio that includes some of DIALOG’s most complex, large-scale, award-winning projects that span sectors, including healthcare, institutional and civic buildings.
Since joining DIALOG over 33 years ago, Rob spent 20 of those as a partner, including 11 on the practice-wide strategic leadership team as Studio Managing Partner in Calgary. During that time, Rob helped facilitate the Calgary studio relocation to its current home, participated in the merger that realized DIALOG’s Vancouver studio, and helped expand our reach with the opening of our San Francisco studio.
In 1998 Rob acted as a catalyst in launching DIALOG’s aviation practice, going on to lead the $1.6 billion Calgary International Airport – International Facilities project, which secured LEED® Gold certification — a rare feat in this typology, making it the first “deeply green” airport in Canada when it opened in 2016.
Now, transitioning from his role in the partnership, he is focusing on mentoring the next generation of leaders within the practice, diving deeper into nurturing strategic partnerships, and bringing impactful projects to life.
As project lead on the newly opened Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre, designed in collaboration with Stantec, Rob led DIALOG’s integrated design team. It’s a transformational project that will double Alberta’s cancer care capacity. It includes a research facility with the University of Calgary, where proven effective trials can be immediately deployed in patient care. All of this is within a single building. The impact on the immediate community and province is tremendous and signals a trend in how Rob’s work creates an indelible mark on the communities they inhabit.
“As a Calgarian, I’ve watched as the city has transformed and grown well beyond the classic interpretation of what Calgary is,” says Rob. “It has become a diversified global city.” This shift is epitomized in the new Calgary Central Library, a collaboration with Snohetta, on which Rob acted as project lead.
“The library was imagined not simply as a building to store books or technology but as a transformative catalyst for the community at large,” says Rob.
Acting as a gateway between the cultural downtown core and rapidly emerging East Village, the Library continues to draw international acclaim not only for its dynamic design but for its ability to welcome seemingly divergent communities into a truly communal space – one intended to serve and uplift the lives of those who enter it, thanks in part to extensive and free programming.
Rob’s ongoing work on projects include Labs Canada and the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and as for his next ambitious project? He has his sights set on the Calgary Events Centre.
It’s a potential project that would usher in another chapter for the city. “It could anchor a yet realized sports and entertainment district if we can bring it to fruition,” says Rob. “It’s incredibly exciting to imagine what’s possible.”