Blueprint for magnificence: Are Edmonton buildings being designed to dazzle? – Edmonton

Edmonton city council’s approval of a developer’s plan to build a massive residential tower in Oliver last week is just the latest chapter in an ongoing discussion about how they city’s buildings are designed.

Regency Developments’ plan to build the 45-storey Emerald Tower received approval from the majority of city councillors, but didn’t get the vote of Mayor Don Iveson and some other well-known faces at city hall.

One of the issues at the center of the councillors’ debate over the building was architectural design.

READ MORE: Edmonton councilors approve controversial high-rise tower despite chief planner’s concerns

“I think we have a long way to go to get much more sophisticated architecture,” Coun. Scott McKeen recently said about the state of Edmonton’s building designs. McKeen was one of four lawmakers at city hall to vote against approving the Oliver tower.

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The debate over design in Alberta’s capital is not a new one. Former mayor Stephen Mandel used a 2005 state of the city speech to demand more stylish architecture from developers when he said, “our tolerance for crap is now zero.”

Patti Swanson, with the Alberta Association of Architects, suggests Mandel’s message may have been blunt but was warranted.

“It was harsh,” Swanson said. “But in my mind’s eye, any mayor of a major city that says the architecture needs to be better is music to an architect’s ear.”

Swanson says she believes the city has taken strides in demanding style since Mandel uttered those words.

“Mostly, the City of Edmonton has been the champion for that with their competitions,” she said. “They’ve built some lovely buildings in the last few years.”

PHOTO GALLERY: A look at a sample of some of the building designs seen around Edmonton:


The Meadows Community Recreation Center in Edmonton.

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A pavilion that houses washrooms at Borden Park in Edmonton is shown.

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A hotel in an Edmonton area known as The Quarters is shown.

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A look at 103 Street in downtown Edmonton.

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Downtown Edmonton.

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Old Strathcona.

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Near NAIT.

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While beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, some of the city’s own recent developments have certainly placed an emphasis on unique design. For example, the Meadows Community Recreation Center incorporates an innovative use of glass and wood while a park pavilion that houses washrooms at Borden Park, had style stressed as a priority when it was designed.

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“We visit other cities in the world and marvel at their architecture,” McKeen said. “Well, why not encourage some of that here?”

The ongoing debate over design appears poised to continue although recently, several projects that have been built and several slated for construction, have earned positive reviews.

“As the culture rises, the design culture rises – the developers will respond to that,” Swanson said. “I think the citizens will demand better.”

-With files from Vinesh Pratap and Slav Kornik.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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