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Victoria Skating Pavilion

This proposal for a skate and ski facility in Edmonton’s downtown Victoria Park was designed in response to a City of Edmonton architectural competition.

 

The proposed site has a long and complex history, despite there being little indication of it today. The design sought to draw out some of this history with a contemporary expression.

 

Site History

 

Although it is now parkland, this site and much of the river valley was once the industrial heart of the region – full of lumber, mining and brick operations. Some of the landscape of the adjacent Victoria Municipal Golf Course was literally shaped by industry – the major dip in the 7th fairway is a vestige of the Sandison Brickyard clay quarry, and traces of Brickyard Road are still visible along the bank above the site.

 

The City of Edmonton’s acquisition of this site took place after Minneapolis architects Morrell & Nichols and Frederick G. Todd (influenced by the thinking of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead) recommended in 1907 that the City establish a river valley park system by first purchasing this property.

 

Although park amenities were established, there was no formal park protection until the North Saskatchewan River flooded 12m higher than normal in 1915, prompting the Government of Alberta to adopt earlier recommendations - beginning with Victoria Park.

 

Additionally, beyond this site many of the industrial operations located in the flats were in shambles, opening space for what is now the largest continuous urban park in North America.

Design Response

 

This design grows out of the history of the site by seeking to evoke a sense of the forgotten industry that has so convincingly disappeared. A grid of brick volumes resembling brickyard stacks forms a microcosm of the city grid. Some of the volumes float mysteriously, allowing entry.

 

From within the space, the mass of the blocks disappears, and brick walls become veils letting in patterned light, with additional natural lighting provided by clerestory glazing.

 

Archival photos of brick stacks in Edmonton’s early brickyards form the basis for brick patterns with modulated spacing, which allows for varying degrees of porosity as required. A plaza facing south and towards the skating rink is framed a between the colonnade of evergreens and brick volumes. Fluid pavement forms tie the site together with the skating oval. Landscape seating is scattered, as though washed up like flotsam and jetsam.

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