EDMODERNTOWN (Part V): Postscript

Demolition of Edmonton's second City Hall. Courtesy City of Edmonton

Editor’s note: The final part of Trevor Boddy’s essay, EDMODERNTOWN: Four Factors Shaping Edmonton Architecture, which was initially published in the Capital Modern catalogue from the Art Gallery of Alberta, 2007 . Click here for Parts IIIIII, and IV.

In Memoriam

I thought it useful to combine my training as a historian of architecture with my current role as architecture critic to propose the best Edmonton building for each of the decades covered in this guidebook. 1930s, 1940s, 50s, and 50s. My list of chosen buildings is no different now than it would have been when I wrote Modern Architecture in Alberta in the early 1980s. What is stunning, however, is that every single building on my list has been demolished or compromised out of recognition. These brief pages note our fallen buildings, which also include our very best.

With change and churn, every city loses buildings and gains them, more or less in tandem. This is not true of Edmonton—the city stands out for conspicuously destroying its finest architecture, of leveling the best and leaving the worst. In my view, this is not an accident, but a manifestation of the boomtown mentality, where visual reminders of previous booms serve as portents of the end of the current boom, and we go out of our way to get rid of them, or inflict architectural plastic surgery on them so extensive that they lose their character. Here is my list, and I welcome your suggestions for others, or building currently threatened.

Trevor Boddy
2007

1930s

CM_guidebook_c_shafraazessay_Page_5_Image_0001

T. Eaton Department Store (demolished)
101 Street at 102 A Avenue
Northwood and Chivers Architects
Edmonton Archives EA 10-1797

1940s

varscona-theatre-6184

Varscona Theatre (demolished)
Whyte Avenue at 109 Street
Rule Wynn and Rule Architects
Provincial Archives of Alberta PA2544.5

1950s

tumblr_luzuacymk01qdt6jzo1_1280

Edmonton City Hall (demolished)
Sir Winston Churchill Square
Dewar Stevenson and Stanley Architects
Provincial Archives of Alberta WS122.2

1960s

EdmontonArtGallery-794124

The Edmonton Art Gallery (demolished)
Sir Winston Churchill Square
Bittorf and Wensley Architects
John Fulker

1960s

Edmonton_Centennial_Library_A_crop

Centennial Library
Sir Winston Churchill Squre
Minsos Jamieson Vaitkunas
David Murray

1960s

CM_guidebook_f_backsection_b_Page_26_Image_0001

tumblr_lu05azv4NJ1qdt6jzo1_1280

Central Pentecostal Tabernacle (demolished)
112 Street at 107 Avenue
Hemingway and Laubenthal Architects
James Dow