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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?