A Taste of Edmonton

July 22, 2019
This week A Taste of Edmonton is on the Legislature grounds again for the second year, and what a perfect venue for it. Great large public plaza with 100 lit fountains (recycling the water of course), alleys of maturing trees with outdoor furniture all around for the public to use in between trying the food venues, incredible views out over the legislature grounds, and a beautiful Eco-Cline landscape green space as part of the plaza.

When I relocated to Edmonton in 2008 with the firm I was with, we had a tour with a relocation consultant that spent half a day touring us around Edmonton which was going to be our new home. The first place we arrived at was this north end of the Legislature Mall. It was an unruley gravel parking lot with rusting and falling apart car block heater plug-ins, jack rabbits running around everywhere, and the existing Federal Building’s one thousand windows were boarded up with plywood and had been like that for 20 years. Coming from the other cities I had lived in, all I remember saying was OMG!

Thank goodness someone had the foresight to not tear down more provincial and Edmonton heritage stock and start again for the second or third time, to find a way to repurpose the building and create a proper world class legislature precinct.

It was so wonderful to see this public space being used as it should and as it was designed to be used. I was grateful that through strange unknown mysteries, I found myself having the great opportunity in 2008, working on the design for almost four years on what is there today. There was a host of gifted individuals and teams from many disciplines that worked on this public building to bring it back to life, and considerable research and design rigour that supported the outcome.

The three things that are missing but were provided for are; using the entry gate pavilions properly, one as a skate rental during the winter, the other next to the main parkade entrance as a cafe and bistro for the public, glycol mats for winter time ice surface in the plaza, and the restaurant at the south end of the new West Entrance Pavilion which opens out into that beautiful bosk of trees.

One can only hope that the Alberta Government completes the vision and public expenditure that went into putting these amenities in place. As it stands however the new facilities are a great gift to the public domain and the exhibition space and theatres in the main floor of the Federal Building are well worth the visit.

Photos courtesy Katherine Kerr Creative.

Vaughan Hoy