I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A city known for its big mall, hockey team (last in the league!), river valley and pick-up trucks.
What it isn’t known for is its architecture. Well, that’s not fair. We do have some examples of pretty stunning architecture. It’s hard to get people to agree on what is actually ‘good’ in any city, but I think it’s safe to say that things like the Muttart Conservatory, the Space and Science Centre (sorry, Telus World of Science) and the Hemingway Pool stand out. And there are some good examples of interesting and modest prairie architecture spanning back to the 19th century. The problem is we’re not very good at keeping many of these things around. We have a predilection for tearing down just about anything if we think we can squeeze in some stucco condos or a parkade in its place. Which gives birth to a term that my friend Karen Campos and I have coined for the type of architecture that tends pop up in these situations: post-awesome.
The City has another name for this type of design: ‘crap architecture’. It was becoming such a problem that in 2005 our Mayor declared ‘zero tolerance for crap architecture’. People cheered, tears were shed. We thought excitedly about what could replace the post-awesome wastelands stretching out to the edges of our fertile farmland.
But have we actually stopped building crap architecture? This blog will examine crap architecture/post-awesome design in all its glory in Edmonton, try to figure out how we can start building things that are truly worthy of the beautiful city we live in, and celebrate the things that are done well in the city. All with a good measure of tongue planted firmly in cheek.