In the course of our daily reporting, we often uncover unusual projects, places, or connections that don't make the final cut. Instead of keeping it to ourselves, we're pleased to share our Architrivia.
The two pyramidal glass enclosures topping Edmonton City Hall, bringing natural light to the City Room and Council Chamber, are iconic elements of its Postmodern design. But the view from Sir Winston Churchill Square would have been substantially different had architect Gene Dub implemented his initial design.
With a jury led by renowned architect Norman Foster, a national architectural competition for a new civic headquarters selected a proposal by Gene Dub in 1982. The concept portrayed a rectangular building crowned by four cone-shaped structures, a modern and scaled-up twist on the traditional teepee, meant to reflect the area's roots to First Nations peoples.
The public appetite for the design was tested when the models were displayed at seven city shopping malls. The response was mostly negative. The cones drew unsavoury comparisons to nuclear reactors and dunce caps. Dub, although content with whatever decision council would make, defended his scheme, emphasizing the design's connection to the history of the city. But elected officials, buoyed by vocal members of the public, voted to axe the cones.
Dub's revised design replaced the four cones with two pyramids. The new concept maintained its symbolism, but directed it at a natural source instead: the Rocky Mountains. It was resoundingly applauded by the public and the press, who took to calling the complex "Pyramid Power."
Construction was finished in 1992, producing 150,000 square feet of above-grade space and 100,000 square feet of additional space below. The three-storey concrete structure, relatively simplistic in its geometry and proportions, is complemented by the 200-foot clock-adorned Friendship Tower, which is festooned with 23 carillon bells.