Roundup: The Royal Alberta Museum is moving downtown

It’s amazing how big news can just seemingly drop from the sky sometimes! Yesterday’s big announcement here in Edmonton was that the Royal Alberta Museum will be rebuilt downtown:

A new comprehensive Royal Alberta Museum will be built in downtown Edmonton starting this year, featuring twice as much gallery space, direct connections to public transit, proximity to the Arts District, and the ability to host major international exhibits and rare artifacts. The new museum will be equipped to showcase both Alberta’s history and its natural wonders, and will be free of the limitations of the current museum site.

The new museum is expected to cost $340 million and is set to open by 2015. Budget 2011 includes $180 million over the first three years of the project, which includes $30 million from the Federal government. Here’s a rough rendering of the building:

For a better look, check out this video from the Province introducing the new concept:

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Here’s where the site is located (click here for Street View):

Lots has been written/recorded about the project already. Here are some of the things I have come across that are worth checking out.

From the Edmonton Journal:

The current museum will stay open for the next four years. Discussions are just starting on what to do with the old museum and the rest of the property in Glenora, although a portion will eventually house a new residence for the lieutenant-governor.

“Right now, I can tell you it’s not going to be condos,” Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett said. He said it’s “very unlikely” the land will be sold to private developers.

From the CBC:

Stelmach said the museum land could be the future home of the Edmonton terminal for a high-speed rail line to Calgary. Land for a Calgary station was purchased in 2007.

Paula Simons picked up on that as well at The Edmonton Commons and added:

There’s no denying the real attractions of this site. It would be accessible by LRT – especially if the city were to “activate” the dormant LRT stop, known as Future Station, that’s already roughed in under the Brownlee Building. It would be linked to the existing pedway system. It would be a block east of that proposed arena and entertainment district, assuming such a thing actually comes to be built. It would be a way to push attractive development into the Chinatown/Boyle/McCauley area. It would make the Churchill Square/City Hall precinct a true arts centre. And it would be a fabulous companion to the AGA – a tourist draw in the heart of the city core. It might also help to give impetus to develop on the Station Lands site directly to the north – and even integrate with possible plans to turn Mary Burlie Park, just to the north of the proposed RAM site, into a Chinese garden and cultural centre.

From Global Edmonton:

The decision to move to a new location was made because of size constraints at the old location, and because the construction process would have forced the museum to close for a significant amount of time while the construction was in progress. As a result, the province says the cost to build on a new location will be less than the cost of trying to redevelop the old site.

From CTV Edmonton:

This spring, a competitive bidding process will seek out a private sector consortium to design and build the new facility.

Finally, while I like the spirit of David Staples’ latest column, it’s unfortunate that most of the words are dedicated to the arena, not the RAM. Still, it is great news for downtown!

What else have you come across that is worth sharing?

8 thoughts on “Roundup: The Royal Alberta Museum is moving downtown

  1. Stelmach gets a failing grade of an armchair transportation planning. The new RAM site is a horrible location for a HSR terminal. First of all the only way to run a heavy train into it is from the north-east LRT corridor. That would be fine if it were only connecting Edmonton to Fort Mac as has been suggested (while building an expensive HSR line almost 500km to such a small community isn’t supported by economics). To head south to Calgary a train leaving the RAM site downtown would have to head out to the yellowhead and east to the TUC all the way to the QE2 – adding well over 20 km’s to the trip. I’m currently researching an Alberta HSR station location report that I’d like to have ready this summer.

    The ideal configuration for Edmonton would be south and north terminals at Strathcona Junction and Yellowhead Junction respectively. This would make it more convenient for Edmontonians on both sides of the river to access the provincial rail system, and provide direct connections to the low-floor LRT (at Strathcona JCT, future East LRT via Garneau and the HLB) and the high-floor line at the northern edge of the Edmonton City Centre Airport lands, (where the NAIT/St.Albert line will cross the Yellowhead freeway). The province already owns a huge parcel of land there which could be re-developed into the maintenance, staging and storage yard for the HSR system. There isn’t enough room for that in downtown Calgary, and for logistical efficiency you’d want it at either end of your line. Furthermore both possible station locations connect directly to the existing CN and CPR rail-rights-ofway which could provide access for future commuter or provincial (non-HSR) passenger service that feeds into the HSR trunk line. Not to mention that both Yellowhead and Strathcona Junctions have enormous opportunities for transit-orientated-developments.

    There are a dozen or so other terminal locations options that are attractive as well and some that are closer to downtown and would serve adequately in a one-station configuration, but in a comparative analysis the above scenario is worth the cost of cutting and covering under 121st from Jasper Avenue to 107th Avenue in order to access the abandoned rail corridor which would connect the two stations without ANY private property expropriation.

    I’ll send you the report when it’s ready for analysis Mack.


  2. Did i miss something? Isn’t the Canada Post building currently at that location? What’s the plan with it?

  3. Hi Mac,
    I just want to say, in defence of my friend and colleague Mr. Staples, that he purposely didn’t write much about the RAM on Friday, because he knew it was so much “my” baby – and that I was planning a big front page package for Saturday. I got painted into a corner, a bit, because I was committed to a nice profile of Paul Lorieau for Friday. I was very grateful to have the Edmonton Commons blog on Thursday, so I could still have a platform – and I hope my two front-page pieces in Saturday’s paper were worth the wait!

  4. What I find amazing is that the province is willing to drop that much money on the museum, but isn’t willing to contribute to the arena. The arena will be used by far more people, and will likely be a bigger tourist draw. That said, I’m happy we are getting a new museum in a great location.

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