The city of Edmonton, the capital of Canada’s Alberta province, sits on the North Saskatchewan River.

Edmonton’s landscape is found to be composed of many different architectural styles. Buildings were constructed on the basis of the availability of materials, technology, local skills, current trends, and budget. All these factors resulted in the creation of some amazing buildings in Edmonton. A few of the many prominent architectural styles that the city boasts about are:

  • Edwardian – majorly built during the first decades of 20th century
  • Gothic revival – mostly seen in the churches of Edmonton
  • Collegiate Gothic – evidently seen in college campuses
  • Modern
  • Foursquare – popular in the 1910s, prominent in city’s old neighborhoods
  • Scottish Baronial – seen in some of the city’s most iconic and historic structures

Here are 15 places in Edmonton that every architect and architecture enthusiast must visit to experience the city in its true sense.

1. Art Gallery of Alberta

Located in the prominent location on Sir Winston Churchill Square, which is the main civic and arts Public Square in the city, the new Art Gallery of Alberta was conceived as an engaging and stimulating center for contemporary art in Edmonton.

The architecture of the building is a combination of fluid shapes of stainless-steel surfaces and glazed openings creating opportunities for generous views and natural light within the building. Reflecting on the city’s dramatic and extremely contrasting weather patterns of long summer days and short winter days, the materials used give the building a dynamic quality allowing it to transform along with its natural surroundings.

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Art Gallery of Alberta front Elevation. ©Randell Stout Architects
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Outside view of the art gallery of alberta deck. ©Randall Stout Architects
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Art gallery of alberta curved elevation. ©Robert Lemermeyer

2. City Hall of Alberta

The City Hall of Alberta, designed as a public gathering space is always hosting events, festivals, and various activities year-round. Council and committee meetings are also conducted here. This building with its award-winning architecture was designed by local Architect Gene Dub. He combined the old with the new by incorporating some of the salvaged marble and granite from the old City Hall building.

The water body with fountains in front of the City Hall is a public space which plays the role of an ice rink in the winters when the waters get frozen.

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Edmonton’s City Hall with The Pyramid Supposed to Reflect There Mountains. ©Flickr
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The City Hall in The Winters. ©Travelalberta.Com

3. The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

Standing tall as the most iconic and Edmonton’s historic building, the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald was opened on 5th July 1915, ever since it’s been a staple of the city’s skyline with its Chateau style architecture and majestic turrets. Built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company in the early 20th century, the hotel was designed by architecture firm Ross & MacDonald. The historic building was designated as Municipal Heritage Resource in 1985.

Built in the Scottish Baronial style of architecture, one can observe finer details like cornices, stone details on arches and pillars lime gargoyles, decorative eaves troughs throughout the building facade.

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The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. ©Edmonton Journal
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The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. ©Flickr
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The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald Overlooking The Lawns. ©Pinterest

4. The Alberta Legislature Building

Being the seat of power for the provincial government, the Legislature is also one of the iconic buildings of Edmonton. Built between 1907 and 1913 in the Classical Revival style, it was strongly influenced by similar American government buildings in Canada. It has elements of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian elements that suggest power, permanence, and tradition. Built in the shape of a cross, with a rotunda that connects the east and the west wings and the central assembly hall hosts a dome achieving a height of 55 meters (180 feet).

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The Legislature Building with Public Grounds. ©Flickr
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A view of the Alberta Legislature building in Edmonton ©Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal
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The Alberta Legislature building, Edmonton. ©Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal

5. The Gibson Block – 9608 Jasper Avenue

Being the only one of its kind in the city – a prototypical flatiron building – over a century old, The Gibson Block is a landmark of the Boyle Street neighborhood. It was built at the time of the city’s commercial boom prior to First World War in the early 20th century.

Having being fabricated out of concrete and brick in 1913, the building’s unique floor plates housed diverse uses which kept altering with time and demand.

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Gibson Block in 1958. ©City of Edmonton Archives EA-193-20
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Gibson Block in 2016, ©Google Street View
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Gibson_Block_flatiron_view,_Edmonton©Wikimedia

6. Jasper Place Library

The new library building was built with the aim of creating a new social heart within an older neighborhood. It works like a large open and inviting indoor community public space that welcomes all demographics with its memorable and flexible spaces. It consists of children’s areas, community rooms, all along with the library areas. Designed by the joint venture of HCMA Architects, Design, and DUB Architects, it has achieved a LEED Gold Certification.

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Jasper Place Library. ©Hcma
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Jasper Place Library Interio ©Archdaily
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Jasper Place Library. ©Archdaily

7. Recreation Centre

The project which functions as a new social community core of was planned so that it interconnects the fabric of an underdeveloped neighborhood. The park promenades are developed such that they connect the community, transit with the recreation center. A multitude of activities and events are all occurring under one large roof like the Eskimos Football Stadium, indoor pool, all activities intertwined.

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Commonwealth community centre. ©archdaily
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Commonwealth community centre stadium. ©archdaily
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The indoor pool of community centre. ©archdaily

8. Fort Edmonton Park

The city’s past is recreated at Fort Edmonton Park, a living history museum right from streets from earlier centuries to theatres. It depicts life in Edmonton through four historical periods. It also has amusement parks, 4D experience theatre. Steam trains and original streetcars are also a must-visit here.

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St. Joseph’s Basilica, Edmonton. ©Pinterest
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St. Joseph’s Basilica, Edmonton. ©Squarespace-Cdn.Com
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Rose Windows of The St. Joseph’s Basilica, Edmonton. ©Travelalberta.Com

9. High Level Bridge

One of the City’s landmarks, the High-Level Bridge is said to have altered the direction the city would’ve taken. It was a factor that amalgamated Edmonton and Strathcona. Designed by Canadian Pacific Railway, it was an engineering landmark during its time. In recent times, the bridge is lit up in the evening which is a real treat to watch.

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High Level Bridge, Edmonton. ©Flickr
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High Level Bridge At 100 Years In 2013. ©www.citymuseumedmonton.Ca
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High Level Bridge Lit Up with Lights. ©Airtransit.Com

10. Rutherford House Provincial Historic site

It was home to the first Premier of Alberta, Alexander Cameron Rutherford. In 1911 A.C. Rutherford and his family moved into this beautiful brick mansion. Today, this Edwardian era home restored and furnished maintains the Rutherford tradition of hospitality and offers a glimpse into the past to its visitors with guided tours and special events.

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The Rutherford House. ©www.srutherfordhouse.ca
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The Rutherford House. ©www.sygictraveldata.com

11. Capitol Theatre

This modern incarnation of the old Capitol Theatre, the first movie theatre of Edmonton hosts events and screenings which take the audience through a flashback of the area. It is a year-round venue for local theatre, drama and music, and provides seating for 250 people. Right from the facade to the interior, one must visit this to experience the old era theatre.

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Entrance of The Capitol Theatre. ©www.fortedmontonpark.ca
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Interior of The Capitol Theatre. ©www.fortedmontonpark.ca

12. Federal Building

One of the city’s few Art Deco buildings, the Federal Building was originally built by the Government of Canada to host its mains Federal offices for Edmonton and most of Western Canada. This historic landmark offers visitors with year-round recreational opportunities along with hosting government and Legislature staff and MLAs. One must not miss the architectural details; it’s an outdoor plaza with fountains and gardens. One must not miss the beautiful Art Deco elements.

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Federal Building, Edmonton. ©www.gmld.ca
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Edmonton-Federal-Building Art Deco Details ©www.alberta.ca
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Federal Building, Detail of Coat of Arms of Canada over east entrance. ©www.alberta.ca

13. First Presbyterian Church

The largest Presbyterian Church in Edmonton is a 1912 Gothic Revival building.

This monumental building is made of pressed brick and stone trim with large Gothic arched windows and a steeply pitched gable roof and is an architectural marvel to experience.

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First Presbytarian Church. ©www.davidmurrayarchitect.ca
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First Presbytarian Church. ©www.davidmurrayarchitect.ca
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Interior of The Church. ©www.davidmurrayarchitect.ca

14. Government House

Designed in Jacobean Revival style, the Government House was constructed by the Department of Public Works under the direction of A.M. Jeffers, chief architect of the Alberta Legislature Building. It has exterior details like brick walls covered with sandstone. The Government House Foundation was creative in 1975 by the provincial government to maintain this historic site.

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Government House, Edmonton. ©Flickr
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Government House, Edmonton. ©Flickr
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Government House, Edmonton. ©Edmonton Journal

15. Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium (modern expressionist)

Being one of the first planetarium buildings ever built in Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium is a beautiful example of Modern Expressionist design. They say the stars have finally aligned for the planetarium after sitting vacant and neglected in Coronation Park. The historic building is currently undergoing restoration by the Telus World of Science and will be renovated as an educational, reception, and production space. The building was shut in 1983 and will now be opening with new vibrancy in 2020.

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Queen Elizabeth Ii Planetarium. ©Pinterest
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Queen Elizabeth Ii Planetarium Under Restoration. ©Edmonton Journal

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