Olympic Saddledome – Calgary, Alberta

The Olympic Saddledome in Calgary, designed by the local firm Graham McCourt Architects with the engineering assistance of Jan Bobrowski & Associates, is an exercise in structural rationality. Its iconic hyperboloid roof, formed of concrete panels hung from a net of steel cables, was never explicitly intended to mimic a saddle. But the name fit, and it stuck: in a contest held to name the building, over half the entries incorporated the word “saddle.” Another unintended benefit of the building’s shape is volumetric efficiency: compared to other stadiums of equal capacity, the Saddledome has less interior space to illuminate and heat.

Now known as the Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary’s stadium was an essential ingredient in Calgary’s winning Olympic bid, and was host to figure skating and ice hockey during the 1988 Winter Games. It also helped the city secure its NHL franchise, the Flames.Though not as architecturally dramatic as its Montréal counterpart, the Saddledome has become an integral part of Calgary’s civic identity.

-Jesse Jackson

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