University Heights | 23m | 6s | Westrich Pacific | EFG Architects

What do you think of this project?


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Hugh Jazz

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I'm gonna say it comes down to the almighty $$$

Certainly that would be a big factor. Sadly, I think our lack of an Architecture school is another big contributor. Tough to attract bright young architects who went to school elsewhere to Edmonton, where the number of truly good architecture firms is relatively small. It would make a big difference if we could produce our own architects here at the U of A.
 

_Citizen_Dane_

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^ Yes and no, I’d say. I think it’s a big factor, but at the same time it’s hard to say definitively as it wasn’t one historically. The UofA only had a School of Architecture until 1940, when its one professor, Cecil S. Burgess, finally retired. Yet that didn’t stop Edmonton from producing genuinely great looking buildings well into the ‘80s. Most of our architects between 1940 and 1980 were Edmontonians trained at the University of Manitoba, who came back home to practice. You kinda alluded to it, but I think it’s more of a question of “what reason is there to be an architect in Edmonton” or “why should I go there versus some mecca like Toronto or Vancouver?” Because even if we did have a school, what’s to stop our graduates from just going elsewhere afterwards? It’s a case of perception I think.
 

cliffapotamus

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^can attest to the 'students move away' bit. currently studying Arch Tech at SAIT, on the reccomendation of someone who move to Calgary for SAIT, and left immediately after school. This move is pretty common for the AT program there, which is well-regarded (and cranks out way more ATs than Calgary would need) this is true for a lot of professional degrees, of all types.Schools specialize, students go there for that specialty, then move away.
Calgary has an architecture program at U of C (decent, not as good as U Manitoba's or MCgill etc, as I understand) but most of the big projects in Calgary are done by 'imported' architects, especially flagship projects like Telus Sky or the Central Library. Being Calgary, they like being able to brag about bringing these people in (of course ;)) and the U of C school isn't really a big presence in the architecture scene there; it certainly doesn't set trends in the city, as the architectural tastes are set by those big 'important' names.
I really think it comes down to culture, international presence of the city, and appreciation of architecture. Edmonton is very down to Earth, which is good, but it doesn't draw the 'starchitects' and starchitect wannabes the way Calgary does, despite being the same size. we don't trumpet about how amazing all our new downtown buildings are, even though places like Stantec Tower, Telus Plaza, and even the Fox towers are great public spaces, especially as a pedestrian walking by, which is how we oughtta be rating these things. We focus on practical stuff like street engagement and inclusion of family aprtments and small-scale commercial instead of the building looking like a pixellated smoke cloud (sorry, i loathe Telus Sky). We focus on liveability and how the building integrates into the city in a more pragmatic way than a 'starchitect' may like. i think there are some great buildings to live with in edmonton; they just won't end up on the cover of Architectural Digest. I think that's okay, but it does de-incentivize architectural talent
As for these 6-story stucco things, IDK. I wrote this thinking elevating the top end would drag up the low end. maybe (and i really don't like this idea because Calgary did it in Bridgeland and apparently it was a huge drain on everyone involved) we specify materials/finishes? Put RA7-9 developments in the dog house, no stucco until your massing and conceptual designs improve?
 

Hugh Jazz

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^ Yes and no, I’d say. I think it’s a big factor, but at the same time it’s hard to say definitively as it wasn’t one historically. The UofA only had a School of Architecture until 1940, when its one professor, Cecil S. Burgess, finally retired. Yet that didn’t stop Edmonton from producing genuinely great looking buildings well into the ‘80s. Most of our architects between 1940 and 1980 were Edmontonians trained at the University of Manitoba, who came back home to practice. You kinda alluded to it, but I think it’s more of a question of “what reason is there to be an architect in Edmonton” or “why should I go there versus some mecca like Toronto or Vancouver?” Because even if we did have a school, what’s to stop our graduates from just going elsewhere afterwards? It’s a case of perception I think.

A very good point. It would be interesting to talk to someone who was involved in the Edmonton architecture scene between 1940-1980 - see how the perception of Edmonton as a place to practice architecture has changed since. And exactly why it's changed.

Aside from producing graduates who might be able to work here, I think it would also be beneficial to have an architecture school here simply for the voice it could provide out in the public realm. A strong voice like that coming from a place of expertise would have a positive impact/influence on how the public and decision makers view architecture in the city.
 

_Citizen_Dane_

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Aside from producing graduates who might be able to work here, I think it would also be beneficial to have an architecture school here simply for the voice it could provide out in the public realm. A strong voice like that coming from a place of expertise would have a positive impact/influence on how the public and decision makers view architecture in the city.
And this is a very good point too. I think that a problem is that architecture just isn't in the public view as much anymore. Like of course buildings are everywhere, people voice their opinions on them, the news reports when new ones are being built, etc. But when it comes to actual talks about architecture, the brass-tacks, you don't don't ever hear much about the why and how of architecture. Surfing through decades worth of Edmonton Journal articles, you notice there's so many columns and reports that discuss (then) new buildings going up. Nearly every one of those, without fail, goes into depth describing the building, the techniques employed, the materials used, often quoting the architects themselves on why certain things were done, or what certain elements represent. And again, that’s still done today, but far less frequently. I suppose that spirals into its own topic of discussion about local news and its increasing focus on national events, sensational events, or whatever, but like you say, a real “voice” — and in this case a good one for the laymen — has been lost over the decades since, and has probably contributed to a sort of lack of awareness.
 

thommyjo

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My buddy grew up in edmonton then moved to portland to study architecture. He might have stayed in edmonton because his uncle was brad kennedy. But after his passing there unfortunately wasn't a ton of incentive it seemed. So now he's in vancouver. Hard to keep young talent when there aren't as many opportunities and just less development overall.
 

archited

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Edmonton "suffers" (if you want to call it that) from a malaise where the number of A-line educational institutions is disproportionate to the population -- and several of these have an international reputation. I want to remind everyone that Athabasca University has an excellent Architectural program and, since I have both taught classes and taken classes at a number of different institutions (including Athabasca), I feel somewhat qualified to judge. And, jointly, I and others are bringing an architectural star back to the City in the person of Douglas Cardinal and his entourage to be resided in the Pendennis Hotel Building when we can outpace COVID-19.
 

thommyjo

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Edmonton "suffers" (if you want to call it that) from a malaise where the number of A-line educational institutions is disproportionate to the population -- and several of these have an international reputation. I want to remind everyone that Athabasca University has an excellent Architectural program and, since I have both taught classes and taken classes at a number of different institutions (including Athabasca), I feel somewhat qualified to judge. And, jointly, I and others are bringing an architectural star back to the City in the person of Douglas Cardinal and his entourage to be resided in the Pendennis Hotel Building when we can outpace COVID-19.
Agreed. It's great that we have so many strong educaitonal institutions, but the brain drain is real afterwards. I studied business at the UofA and now live in the GTA. Most of my friends moved to calgary, vancouver, toronto or cali also. Jobs drive most of it. I'm hopeful that remote working and cost of living could encourage more people to consider places like Edmonton though. Very cheap compared to most big cities. Any ideas on what could help edmonton attract and retain young architects and other higher-ed professions?
 

archited

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^^^^ I can give an opinion but it is only the opinion of one person. Edmonton has always been viewed as a "young" City growing in response to rapid population increases. So it makes mistakes in growth patterns and future projections -- I must say that Mayor Mandel had a reasonably good grasp on what it was that Edmonton needed and he worked hard to get the City there -- and it has some fairly ineffectual administrative bodies that just don't "get it". Architecturally speaking, I don't think that Edmonton is so badly off; it has some outstanding buildings and based on what is coming (noted on this site) is in line for many more. The biggest problem in my view is that Edmonton lacks "community" and a clear understanding of what that means. That is not to say that there aren't specific pockets about the City -- U of A has a good sense of community (especially after HUB was built); Old Strathcona has a good sense of community built around an historic infrastructure prerogative with the input of some exceptional developers and architects and planners (Beljan jumps out here as a developer who "gets it" and the alley-revival works in a positive fashion). MacEwan U. is working to create that same sense of community in a linear fashion, enhanced as @Daveography noted just recently by the random creation of a downtown "Education district" -- a community! 104th street has a bit of that. And the Civic Centre is also working towards that "community" goal.
Everything related to community should be measured by how effective an impetus is at putting engaged people on the street (WEM figured that out so many years ago -- in fact let's stop here -- I think no one would consider WEM an architectural gem; it might actually be the polar opposite -- but it has planned the place so that people can be engaged beyond the mere aspect of shopping mecca -- the self-imposed question that should be asked is "why is that so?", and does it have lessons for the rest of the City).
Here is a list of the communities that Edmonton has that with the proper input could change the way the City is viewed way into the future:
1. Alberta Avenue tied to both NAIT and the former Northlands site.
2. 124th Street tied to intersection nodes that include Jasper Avenue, 102nd Avenue, 104th Avenue, 107th Avenue, 111th Avenue and 118th Avenue
3. the CPR vacant lands adjacent to Old Strathcona
4. Bonnie Doon
5. Commonwealth Stadium area
6. Kingsway Mall area
7. Jasper Avenue West
8. Mill Woods Town Centre
9. Rossdale
What do these areas need? certainly not and infusion of planters, benches and novel street paving. Typically they need engagement factors and, without listing them to make this post unbearably long, again just think WEM, UofA, and Old Strathcona -- the mix of retail and hospitality, the people draw, the entertainment.
'nuff said.
 
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tkoe_

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^^^^ I can give an opinion but it is only the opinion of one person. Edmonton has always been viewed as a "young" City growing in response to rapid population increases. So it makes mistakes in growth patterns and future projections -- I must say that Mayor Mandel had a reasonably good grasp on what it was that Edmonton needed and he worked hard to get the City there -- and it has some fairly ineffectual administrative bodies that just don't "get it". Architecturally speaking, I don't think that Edmonton is so badly off; it has some outstanding buildings and based on what is coming (noted on this site) is in line for many more. The biggest problem in my view is that Edmonton lacks "community" and a clear understanding of what that means. That is not to say that there aren't specific pockets about the City -- U of A has a good sense of community (especially after HUB was built); Old Strathcona has a good sense of community built around an historic infrastructure prerogative with the input of some exceptional developers and architects and planners (Beljan jumps out here as a developer who "gets it" and the alley-revival works in a positive fashion). MacEwan U. is working to create that same sense of community in a linear fashion, enhanced as @Daveography noted just recently by the random creation of a downtown "Education district" -- a community! 104th street has a bit of that. And the Civic Centre is also working towards that "community" goal.
Everything related to community should be measured by how effective an impetus is at putting engaged people on the street (WEM figured that out so many years ago -- in fact let's stop here -- I think no one would consider WEM an architectural gem; it might actually be the polar opposite -- but it has planned the place so that people can be engaged beyond the mere aspect of shopping mecca -- the self-imposed question that should be asked is "why is that so?", and does it have lessons for the rest of the City).
Here is a list of the communities that Edmonton has that with the proper input could change the way the City is viewed way into the future:
1. Alberta Avenue tied to both NAIT and the former Northlands site.
2. 124th Street tied to intersection nodes that include Jasper Avenue, 102nd Avenue, 104th Avenue, 107th Avenue, 111th Avenue and 118th Avenue
3. the CPR vacant lands adjacent to Old Strathcona
4. Bonnie Doon
5. Commonwealth Stadium area
6. Kingsway Mall area
7. Jasper Avenue West
8. Mill Woods Town Centre
9. Rossdale
What do these areas need? certainly not and infusion of planters, benches and novel street paving. Typically they need engagement factors and, without listing them to make this post unbearably long, again just think WEM, UofA, and Old Strathcona -- the mix of retail and hospitality, the people draw, the entertainment.
'nuff said.

Couldn't agree more. Planters are nice, but our neighbourhoods need something more... and I would suggest it's people. People create communities, support businesses and advocate for better municipal maintenance and services. Increasing the density of Edmonton's core neighbourhoods IMHO is one of the best ways to make the city more interesting, vibrant and attractive. We have certainly come a loooong way in the past 10 years, and I think we are still moving in the right direction despite some hiccups along the way.
 

Kaizen

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This afternoon
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2020-11-03 006.JPG
 

Hugh Jazz

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Edmonton "suffers" (if you want to call it that) from a malaise where the number of A-line educational institutions is disproportionate to the population -- and several of these have an international reputation. I want to remind everyone that Athabasca University has an excellent Architectural program and, since I have both taught classes and taken classes at a number of different institutions (including Athabasca), I feel somewhat qualified to judge. And, jointly, I and others are bringing an architectural star back to the City in the person of Douglas Cardinal and his entourage to be resided in the Pendennis Hotel Building when we can outpace COVID-19.

I entirely missed this last sentence of your post @archited - are you saying Douglas Cardinal is going to be practicing from Edmonton?
 

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