The Edmonton Federal Building: Preserving history

Government of Alberta

Year Completed

2010

Client

Government of Alberta

Location

Calgary, AB

Size

355,209 SF

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Upgrading history for the Edmonton Federal Building

On the north-east side of the Alberta Legislature grounds stands a proud piece of Canada’s heritage: the Edmonton Federal Building.

Originally constructed in the 1950s as Western Canada’s federal offices, this Art-Deco building is revered as one of the best enduring examples of this style of architecture in the country.

After it was purchased by the Government of Alberta in the ‘80s, the building sat empty for decades. In the early 2000s, the government began its restoration, updating and converting the space into provincial government offices with a beautiful new plaza. The building is a showpiece of great pride for the grounds and a public gathering space for the community of Edmonton.

PROJECT INSIGHT

We were very cognizant of creating a design that was both of its time and complementary to the existing building.

Bill Chomik

Senior Principal

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Making something old into something new again

Kasian competed for this project through a formal RFP process, and collaborated with multiple stakeholders, using the master plan we created for the Alberta Legislature Grounds as a guide.

The deterioration of the historic building was a major challenge: windows needed replacing, the structural systems needed repair, and mold needed treatment and removal. Our team worked to bring the Edmonton Federal Building back to its original dignity, complementing it with upgrades, while using similar building materials.

We not only renovated this iconic building, we designed new additions, and collaborated to create the beautiful Centennial Plaza.

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Unifying Alberta’s past and present

Our philosophy for the Edmonton Federal Building project was driven by the equal importance of both the interior and exterior of the building. We facilitated multiple design workshops and discussed ideas to ensure we approached this project from a high level, drilling down to the details and interiors.

Understanding that the new addition to the building couldn’t be designed using the same architectural language, we worked to unify Alberta’s past and present – celebrating the contrast and allowing both buildings to stand on their own in perfect conversation.

We created as many views as possible to the legislature building, so the south and north sides of the site were intrinsically connected, while the interfaces on all sides of the building were rich and expressive with character.

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Embracing the seasons and local vegetation

The new Edmonton federal building includes many upgrades including a formal entrance, newly restored lobby, universally designed offices, gathering spaces, a cafeteria, a gift shop, and green space.

We contrasted small-scale spaces within the building with a large entrance pavilion featuring tall windows and natural light. Large wooden columns spread across the shiny new atrium-like trees, while a living green wall caressed the lobby. We also created an 11th floor hosting pavilion with panoramic views of the city and the legislature grounds.

To create a better public experience, hundreds of parking stalls were placed underground. We developed large brightly-lit underground connection tunnels into several buildings on the grounds, so in winter months people could reach their destination without walking outside.

The building achieved LEED Gold Certification and contains many sustainable environmental qualities, including some of the province’s first green roofs, landscaping incorporating only native (to Alberta's) species, a sophisticated building envelope, and enhanced energy efficiencies.

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Adding to the quality and character of our lives (100 template/ 78 actual)

This building is embraced by Edmontonians and Albertans. Centennial Plaza provides community spaces to meet and play, and the plaza is a famous urban attraction for many types of gatherings and tourism, especially in the summer months.

This project successfully saved and restored a historic building that may have otherwise been demolished. As designers and actively engaged citizens, we understand the importance of preserving history, because buildings like this add to the quality and character of our lives.

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