Alberta Legislature Grounds: A provincial governance master plan
Government of Alberta
Along the edge of Edmonton’s downtown stands the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. Spanning 57 acres of land with stunning views, the legislature grounds serve as a sense of pride, ownership, and community for all Albertans.
In 2006, the Government of Alberta engaged us to create a new master plan that would inform land use for decades to follow.
The intention was to create an adaptable new design that allowed for any changes mandated by elected officials, while sustaining future growth. The project was inspired by our team’s sense of connection, collaboration, and understanding of urban design, architecture, and open space development.
First, we created the programming for the master plan, or the ‘higher level’ elements included in the plan. Second, we needed to implement those elements into a comprehensive and enduring master plan, which downsized and consolidated buildings and office spaces.
The Government of Alberta asked us to liberate any available lands on the existing legislative grounds to create more space. We needed to ensure we designed inclusive outdoor spaces that served the city in both summer and winter.
Master planning involves identifying building uses and sizes, describing the supporting open spaces between them, and establishing the circulation components which connect all the elements into a cohesive whole.”
Our team walked the site many times to observe its existing layout – carefully watching and recording the movement of pedestrians and vehicles. We also conducted a careful analysis of the quality of the site’s buildings to assess which ones should stay, and which should be repurposed or demolished.
Given the often-harsh Alberta climate, we approached this design with fervor to create contemporary development, and as many different kinds of outdoor experiences for the public as possible.
Both citizens and officials from multiple levels of government were involved in two planning committees for this project.
Our plan preserves most of the buildings on the site, with a few exceptions, and earmarks placeholder buildings for future use.
We added large expanses of public space to create a more inclusive feel to the grounds. There’s an amphitheatre, multiple outdoor gathering spaces, areas for children to play, and a beautiful tree-lined plaza.
We considered the multiple facilities our client requested, then found creative solutions to work with the seasons. The pond that serves as a children’s splash park in the summer, converts to a picturesque ice rink in the winter months.
We chose species of plants and trees that were indigenous to Alberta, such as willows, birches, pine, white spruce, poplar, and black ash. Then we wove in wild grasses that would survive on their own without irrigation.
The plan was heavily pedestrian-focused. Most surface parking was removed and placed underground – giving Edmontonians a more beautiful environment to look into and call their own.
The master plan continues to be implemented in a staged approach with public spaces on the grounds increasing year over year. The grounds are now Edmonton’s go-to green space downtown. The scores of people that flock to the grounds for picnics, recreation, or just to get outside makes this evident.
Our plan serves as the government’s long-term guide for this land and will be used to make landscaping decisions and future plans.
This project was a major contributor to the city’s urban planning program around 108th Street (or ‘Capital Boulevard’). The road connects the main entrance for Grant MacEwan University to the entrance of the Alberta Legislature Grounds. Pedestrians and cars can clearly see the cupola of the legislature building while roaming 108th Street.
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