A lot has been said and written about the City Centre Redevelopment Project in the past few months. I have had numerous discussions about it with friends and family members, some of whom were very much in favour of keeping the airport as it is with others being equally interested in what a new vibrant development on this site could do for Edmonton.
One of the most memorable conversations was with my brother and dad, where we talked for the first hour or so about the airport, its valued history, the businesses that are there, the health services / medevac flights and the pros / cons of having two major airports servicing Edmonton versus having the Edmonton International Airport as our primary service provider. The conversation then shifted to what we may have in the future if we were to redevelop this site into the vision that City Council has identified: a world class sustainable redevelopment.
One of the things that became clear was that the airport in its current form is readily understood by everyone, it has “always” been there, you can see planes taking off and landing. What is more elusive is to try to imagine a different future and then to make it a reality.
People in our city have been imagining a different and better future for our entire history. One hundred years ago in 1901 there were 2,626 people living here on the open prairie, now we have in the greater Edmonton area a sophisticated, highly educated population of about 1 million. Many things have changed, including our new awareness of the importance of minimizing our ecological footprint.
We have before us a unique opportunity to once again imagine a new future by redeveloping these lands into a sustainable, walkable, family and transit-oriented, world leading design. To achieve this, we are learning from other sustainable redevelopments worldwide that lead the way. We have five world class teams working on their respective submissions : Sweco International AB, Stockholm, Sweden; Busby Perkins + Will, Vancouver, Canada; KCAP Architects & Planners from Rotterdam, Netherlands; BNIM, from Kansas City, USA; and Foster & Partners, from London, UK.
The five teams’ submissions are due on January 21, 2011. Citizens will have an opportunity to view the display materials associated with these submissions and provide information to the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will review the submissions and interview each team prior to providing the Selection Team’s recommendation of the winning applicant to City Council for a final approval. After Council approves the winning submission and a contract is agreed to with the winning firm, the work will intensify on the master plan design and the detailed plans for the area. Through this master and detailed plan process, citizens will have more opportunities for input.
To help jump start our conversation, and whet your appetite with visuals, the five teams provided images from previous projects on urban planning and design, engineering and social, economic and environmental sustainability in China, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom. These are examples of what has been done elsewhere; the designs which will be produced for our competition will be unique to Edmonton. See more of the five finalists previous work in our online gallery.
I thought you might also be interested in what is happening with other central airport redevelopments such those in Berlin, Germany, Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado
As a first step in terms of sharing information with you, I welcome your thoughts on what questions you may have about the City Centre Redevelopment Project, or, on what you imagine may be possible on this site. Let’s start sharing this vision. I will dedicate Nov. 16 and 17 to read and respond to comments directly on this post. I’m looking forward to our discussion.