Increasing sensitivity in next generation dark matter detectors will require the development of novel technologies, better background rejection and better understanding of noble liquid physics. To aid in this development, Argon-1 has been commissioned at Carleton University. Argon-1 is a modular single-phase LAr test detector that employs silicon photo-multipliers (SiPMs) for scintillation light readout. In this work, we describe the construction, commissioning and calibration of the Argon-1 detector, including SiPM characterization in LAr. This includes the development and testing of SiPM signal readout infrastructure, the design and commissioning of the DAQ system, a slow controller program, and a GEANT4 based simulation. The detector light yield is 4.7 photo-electrons/keV, with an energy resolution of ∼ 5%. We outline a measurement plan for a novel background rejection technique using a layered active surface configuration, and preliminary simulation studies of the technique suggests discrimination power of O(10^5) against surface-alpha backgrounds is obtainable.