INTRODUCTION

This website was produced at the behest of The Edmonton Heritage Council and is intended as an interactive reproduction of the material contained in the publication Capital Modern: Edmonton Architecture and Urban Design 1940-1969 (copies still available at the Art Gallery of Alberta Shop)a companion publication to the exhibition of the same name held at the Art Gallery of Alberta in 2007. Thanks must go out to the Art Gallery of Alberta; the exhibition curators Shafraaz Kaba, David Murray and Troy Smith; the photographer James Dow;  contributors Trevor Boddy and Marianne Fedori, the editor Catherine Crowston, as well as the Edmonton Archives, the Provincial Archives and all the others involved for graciously granting permission for the replication of the materials contained in the publication in an online format.

All the remaining text on the site is as contained in the original publication Capital Modern: Edmonton Architecture and Urban Design 1940-1969, editor Catherine Crowston, 2007.


INTRODUCTION
Capital Modern: Edmonton Architecture & Urban Design 1940-1969 

CAPITAL MODERN: Edmonton Architecture and Urban Design 1940-1969 comes at a significant time for the Art Gallery of Alberta and for the City of Edmonton. As we move into the twenty-first century both the Gallery and the City are undergoing a revitalization that signals a new vision and a re-evaluations of our role in a changing community. CAPITAL MODERN allows us to explore the impact that moderism had on our city’s development during the most productive period of the last century and seeks to find the connections to the design and architecture of today.

CAPITAL MODERN installation at Art Gallery of Alberta (James Dow)

CAPITAL MODERN installation at Art Gallery of Alberta (James Dow)

Our vision states:  “The Art Gallery of Alberta creates a welcoming and engaging environment where people are motivated to transform their understanding of the world by connecting with the visual arts.” What better way to do this than to look with fresh eyes at the buildings that surround us? I would like to thank the curators, Shafraaz Kaba, David Murray and Troy Smith and all of the sponsors who, with CAPITAL MODERN,  have created a truly exceptional opportunity to “transform our understanding” of our most common experiences in an engaging and exciting way.

Tony Luppino
Executive Director
The Art Gallery of Alberta
2007

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7 Comments

  1. Paul Gilbertson

    Hello

    I really like this site. Regarding the buildings featured, I have noted what may be two conspicuous absences. University Hall (built in 1951) is an elegant modernist structure. The Noble Building on 109th Street and 85 Avenue is another attractive place. I’m not sure that either meets your criterion, but, nevertheless, I like both buildings. What do you think?

    Thanks for the excellent site!

    Paul Gilbertson

  2. Paul,
    Thanks for the note and comment on the website. We really like this as well and we’re connecting the content to Edmonton Maps Heritage so more people can connect with this important aspect of Edmonton’s built heritage. Regarding University Hall and the Noble building– I’ll forward your comment to architects David Murray and Shafraaz Kaba for their understanding of this and post the reply here.

  3. Reply from David Murray:

    Paul, thank you for your observations. The Capital Modern exhibition was not a comprehensive survey and was not funded by the City. It was a limited overview based on the available funding through grants from the Canada Council and the AGA. I agree that both the buildings you mentioned are significant. It is unfortunate that the windows of University Hall have been changed and not for the better. One criteria for our exhibition is that the building would photograph well and that it be maintained with a high degree of integrity (originality). The same comment applies to the Noble Building. I have always wondered what they did on the top floor front facade, because it seems out of place with the rest of the building. In regard to the significance of these buildings, these are only minor quibbles.

    Both of these buildings and many more that were not in the exhibition are on the City of Edmonton Heritage Inventory. The significance of this is that they would qualify for municipal designation and they will be flagged for discussions with the city should anyone want to alter them. But being on the Inventory doesn’t protect them.

    http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/edmonton_archives/historic-resources-inventory-register.aspx

    For a video tour of the Capital Modern Exhibition at the AGA, see my website:

    http://www.davidmurrayarchitect.ca/videos.php

    Thanks very much for your interest. It was great to hear from you. By the way, I think that the City will soon initiate a survey of buildings from the 60s and 70s to add to the Inventory. All the buildings from the Capital Modern exhibition have been added to the Inventory even though some were from the 60s. Normally, only buildings that are 50 years or older are considered for the Inventory unless it can be argued that they are very significant.

  4. Paul Gilbertson

    Thanks for your reply. It’s good to hear that the City is keeping track of significant buildings. So much has been lost over the years.

    Regarding the Noble Building, I’ve also noticed that the fourth floor facade does not match the rest of the building. As well, the fourth floor does not extend fully to the back of the building. The building is listed as having space for lease, by DTZ Barnicke. The listing states that there is elevator access to the third floor, and stair access to the fourth floor. It is likely that the partial fourth floor was added as an afterthought.

    Thanks again for the great site.

    Paul Gilbertson

  5. Alex

    Tremendous site and resource. As an Edmontonian and architecture student, this is one of my most frequent sources of inspiration and fun reading.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks very much for the comments and kind words. We’re glad that Capital Modern can be useful for young architects and those interested in Edmonton’s history. Seeing as Edmonton is architecturally very much a post WWII/Post Leduc city, the modernism on this site captures our aesthetic essence in many ways. Hope you continue to enjoy the site and find inspiration in Edmonton’s modernism.

      • Alex

        It really does (capture our aesthetic essence). Maintaining such a catalogue is indeed important in fostering a sense of civic identity from an aesthetic point of view. I always find it reassuring to ground myself in examples of interesting architecture in my home town, even if they’re perhaps unknown on the world stage…

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