Edmonton’s structure is now “attention-grabbing to the remainder of the nation,” says the award-winning Toronto architect
A Toronto architect who led the design team for an award-winning pavilion in Borden Park says that Edmonton’s architecture outside of Alberta is starting to attract attention.
“I think the whole architectural culture in Edmonton is really … frankly, it’s gotten interesting to the rest of the country,” said Pat Hanson on Wednesday.
“In my opinion [Edmonton has] served as an example of how bourgeois architecture should be dealt with. “
Hanson, a founding partner of gh3 architecture firm, spoke in CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM about the Borden Park Pavilion, which won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture this week.
She praised the Edmonton city’s procurement process and said Edmonton had served as an example for the rest of the country on how to deal with civic architectural projects.
In 2011 the city announced a design competition for five park pavilions. Hanson’s company won two of these contracts – one in Borden Park and another in Castle Downs Park.
The Borden Park Pavilion was one of 12 buildings honored with the Order of the Governor General on Monday.
No city building has won the honor since 1992, when Barry Johns Architects received a Merit Award for the Advanced Technology Center building in Edmonton Research Park.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, which creates and jointly administers the awards with the Canada Council of the Arts, has previously awarded both medals and merit awards.
The pavilion reflects the surrounding park
The pavilion is a small communal building with washrooms and storage rooms. It had a construction budget of $ 2.1 million.
What makes it unusual is its round shape and sidewalk. From inside, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the park.
From the outside, the triangular, floor-to-ceiling mirror glasses of the building reflect their surroundings.
From some angles, the building blends in so well with the landscape that it can hardly be seen. In the evening it lights up and resembles a mixture of a toy drum and a lantern.
The Borden Park Pavilion at dusk. (Royal Institute of Architecture of Canada)
The jury of the award called it a “refreshingly thought-out and carefully designed object of fascination within the otherwise neglected program of the park infrastructure”.
The Borden Park Pavilion fits into the trees in East Edmonton Park. (Royal Institute of Architecture of Canada)
Inspiration from the history of the park
Hanson said her team took inspiration from the park’s existing features – six paths converge in a circle that surrounds the pavilion area – and its history as an entertainment destination.
According to city records, East End City Park opened in 1906 and was renamed in 1914 after a visit from Prime Minister Robert Borden.
In its heyday, the park was a popular spot for swimming and picnicking in the summer. Over the years, it has been home to a zoo, an open-air concert theater, and amusement park attractions including a wooden roller coaster and carousel.
Hanson said the carousel inspired the team’s conceptual vision for the pavilion.
“We tried to develop an architecture that would involve the public,” she said.
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Local business celebrates too
Acheson-based Jen-Col Construction Ltd. was the contractor for the pavilion and the staff celebrated the news of the award this week.
“We all made high fives and jumped around and got really excited,” said Cory Jodoin, president of Jen-Col.
Jodoin said he was proud of everyone in his company who helped build the building.
“It took a lot of people to design, plan, and build it to be what it is,” he said.