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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Giving ‘Eyesores’ a Second Life

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Commercial Building on 118 Avenue, Shelterbelt Architects (now Group2)

In the Edmonton Journal last week, columnist Paula Simons argued for the preservation of the Healy Ford Building┬áin light of its planned redevelopment. Judging from the online poll and comments, readers were split nearly 50/50 on saving this noteworthy piece of modernist-era architecture. For those in favour of its demolition, some of them regarded the building as “garbage architecture” or a “dump.” Unfortunately, this is a common perception for many excellent structures that fall into disrepair or were significantly modified, especially for modernist buildings. However, it takes a good eye and a bit of creativity to expose these derelict hidden gems. And unsurprisingly, Edmonton has a lot of those.

I encourage you to look through the before and after images below for a sample of excellent buildings that would have been demolished if we lacked a bit of imagination.



  1. I love the Healy Ford building. It is across the street from my hairdresser, and I admire it every time I get my hair cut.

  2. A significant contribution can be made with the refurbishment of these buildings through the City’s Facade Improvement Program and the Bedouin Beats even won an urban design award for their contribution to the Ave.

  3. The more I study architecture, the more I enjoy, heck, even International, which I know dudes don’t love all dat much none. I suspect its an education that develops a fondness for modernism.