Edmonton, the capital of Canada’s Alberta province, sits on the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton’s architectural landscape is found to be composed of many different styles. Buildings were constructed on the basis of availability of materials, technology, local skills, current trends and budget. All these factors resulted in the creation of some remarkable structures in Edmonton. A few of the many prominent architectural styles that the city boasts about are mentioned below:

  • 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

In this article, shared are the top 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 form 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 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 context.

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Art Gallery of Alberta, Front Elevation; Source: Randell Stout Architects
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Outside view of the Art Gallery of Alberta Deck; Source: Randell Stout Architects
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Art Gallery of Alberta, Curved Elevation; Source: Robert Lemermeyer

2. City Hall of Alberta

The City Hall of Alberta, designed as a public gathering space, hosts 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 it gets frozen.

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Edmonton’s City Hall with the Pyramid to reflect the mountains; Source: Flickr
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The City Hall in winters; Source: www.travelalberta.com

3. The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

Standing tall as the most iconic Edmonton’s historic building, the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald was opened in1915 and ever since, has 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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Fairmont Hotel MacDonald; Source: Edmonton Journal
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Fairmont Hotel MacDonald; Source: Flickr
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Fairmont Hotel MacDonald the lawns; Source: Pinterest

4. The Alberta Legislature Building

Being the seat of power for the provincial government, the Legislature Building 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 along with the central assembly hall that hosts a dome achieving a height of 55 meters (180 feet).

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The legislature building with public grounds; Source: Flickr
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The Alberta Legislature Building, Edmonton; Source: 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; Source: City of Edmonton Archives EA-193-20
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Gibson Block in 2016; Source: Google Street View
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Gibson Block flatiron view, Edmonton; Source: Wikimedia
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