Design Initiative

One of the items I campaigned on in the 2017 election was to look closely at the way in which the City of Edmonton incorporates principles of urban design into the projects that we build. Edmonton is rapidly maturing into an internationally competitive city and I feel strongly that we need to think beyond function. 

The City has already been successful in incorporating good design into architecture projects in a meaningful way. Last year, Edmonton won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for the Borden Park Pavillion, our first in over 25 years. The City is being recognized for good design in places as disparate as utility houses, eco-stations, fire halls and yes, libraries. And the story of how we got there is not a matter for good choices but of procurement (but that will have to be a story for another day).

So when I brought forward the Design Initiative with Councillor McKeen, it was under the premise that design needs to be a formative element of every project we consider because we have an opportunity to chart a better course by developing streets, plazas, boulevards and parks that are not only functional, but are also places where people want to spend time. Our infrastructure projects should reflect our greatest assets and enhance the natural beauty of this city.

For this Council Initiative, we have defined the following desired outcomes as part of our mandate:

Enhance the City of Edmonton’s Brand and Reputation

Seek to find pragmatic, direct means of improving the City’s architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design, while fostering recognition and appreciation of the aspects of our city that define it and make it unique.

Improve Citizen’s Sense of Pride in Edmonton

Explore opportunities to make infrastructure and public spaces more attractive and welcoming.

Edmonton is Attractive and Compact 

Review and enhance both the City’s current practices and policies relating to design of City funded infrastructure and public spaces and the City’s current guidelines and regulations relating to design of Private Developments. 

One of the steps we’re taking to achieve our mandate is to establish an Architect-in-Residence program at the City. The City of Edmonton Architect-in-Residence program provides architects at any stage of their career with time and space to research and develop ideas that challenge our preconceptions of architecture, urban design, and city building. Architects-in-Residence will immerse themselves in Edmonton’s urban environment, and the city administration to conduct research on a subject of their choosing. This is one small step, but nonetheless a positive step in elevating the conversation around urban design in our city.

As always, I’m happy to hear your feedback on this or any other City matters. I encourage you to contact me via email (sarah.hamilton@edmonton.ca), phone (780-496-8120) or on Twitter (@sjlhamilton). I welcome your perspectives and suggestions on how we can work together to build a more beautiful city.