Room Set

Table for Two — or 50

Calgary TELUS Convention Centre thinks outside the ballroom.

Calgary’s CoLab features myriad seating options.

On a recent fam trip to Calgary, my eye was drawn to splashes of color outside of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre’s (CTCC) ballroom and traditional meeting rooms, where two new innovative spaces have been carved out.

The first, CoLab, reflects Calgary’s high-tech vibe, and the second space, called the Ideation Center, is meant for intimate groups. Both have been designed to foster collaboration, though in different styles and ways.

Smaller groups can customize Ideation Center space.

With room for 50 attendees, CoLab reminded me of a coliseum. Its focal point can be a screen or a whiteboard on a pillar or a central table with traditional chairs. But surrounding that space are myriad seating options — including high-top desks with attached benches and scattered beanbag chairs — that allow attendees to focus on the action at the central table or break away for more intimate conversations.

One possible use for the space, shared Adam Joyce, CTCC’s vice president of acceleration, might be to gather a corporate or association board at the table. C-suite execs could take part in the conversation in facing chairs, while other managers listen in from the periphery. Or in another scenario Joyce described, a startup team could make their pitch to venture-capitalists, using the room’s screens for rapid-fire presentations.

Ideation Center, a snug area off the CTCC’s beaten path, gives smaller groups of 10 to 50 maximum flexibility. A cluster of four rooms can be set up in a number of ways, plus there’s a place for coffee and snacks or lunch in a cozy common area.

Phoning home? Chairs can muffle sound.

Outside of the two spaces, you can find futuristic chairs and booths that muffle sound, allowing attendees to make a call home or participate in a conference call in a semi-private space — without the need to return to their hotel rooms to do so. The seating also features power sources to charge devices.

Every convention center has to provide the traditional ballroom, Joyce said, but they also should offer innovative spaces to meet attendees’ changing needs.

CTTC says its goal is to provide settings that encourage “people to discover, create, share, and ideate together.” Sometimes those things just happen more easily in beanbag chairs.

Cristi Kempf

Cristi Kempf is executive editor of Convene.