On a daily basis, thousands of people drive, walk and bike past the prospective grounds for Edmonton’s new downtown arena, often trying to imagine what the redeveloped area may look like in a few years’ time.
Thanks to the man behind the vision, Scott Ralston of 360 Architecture, new images of Edmonton’s proposed arena were presented to City Council Wednesday, helping Edmontonians form a clearer picture of the arena and surrounding district slated to open in 2015.
“We’re trying to convey an iconic landmark building in downtown Edmonton that’s filled with excitement, movement and inspiration. We’ll be a catalyst for future development,” said Ralston, a Principal at 360.
The renderings revealed by 360 include a new design concept for the shape of the arena and surrounding integrated buildings, utilizing the area to its maximum efficiency. Detailed images of the arena were showcased including a larger lower bowl capacity - over 9,000 - and a multitude of other seating options at different levels – including the one-of-a-kind catwalk level, open to the public. The exterior features a visage of windows adding to the transparency from street level along with an LED bordering the building. Beyond the arena, images were presented of the surrounding structures that will help seamlessly integrate the district into the already existing communities from all sides.
“What makes it unique from a community standpoint is the arena is just a piece of a larger project,” said Ralston. “There is the winter garden, the LRT lobby and the pedway system to help facilitate connectivity throughout the city. There’s a community rink, there’s a parkade underneath the venue and there’s ample opportunity for private sector development adjacent to the arena.”
“I think  showed that it’s an incredibly dynamic building and people need to look at this in light of other buildings going to be built around it,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel. “This isn’t one building that’s going to be isolated by itself, there are other projects that are going to be built that will create the movement on ground level and the access in the area.”
After initial concepts and drawings were released in 2010, several public feedback opportunities were presented through various stakeholder meetings, open houses and online forums in Edmonton. People had the chance to ask questions and voice concerns, which were then utilized by 360 to help design the newest set of renderings presented to Council.
“We received a lot of feedback through 2010-2011 and we’ve done a lot of modifications to the design to reflect those comments,” said Rick Davis, the City’s Executive Director of the Edmonton Arena District.
“Great care has been taken to balance the need for the arena functions with the need for the community functions,” added Ralston. “The way the building has been located or shifted on the side from what has been previously shown to the west allows for development all along the east side.”
It was revealed that the Katz Group has purchased the Greyhound station on 103 Street and the Staples building on 104 Avenue for the development.
“We’re planning to create a dense urban development that is walkable, sustainable and that’s connected,” added Bob Black, Executive Vice President with the Katz Group. “We think there’s tremendous opportunities having both sides of 103 Street and creating a really great corridor down to Jasper Avenue - that’s a vital connection from our point of view.”
With an abundance of new images and information available, the City of Edmonton is anticipating a high level of interest from the public. For anyone interested in viewing 360’s presentation, the new images and video can be found at edmontonoilers.com. The City will also be hosting an open house at City Hall from May 28 through June 7 along with several other public forums, details of which can be found at edmonton.ca/downtownarena.
All the people involved in the planning of this project say the public’s input has helped to shape the design and it will continue to do so as people continue to think about the arena and entertainment district.