Edmonton

Pyramids on the Prairies: Edmonton's city hall marks 25th anniversary

Edmonton’s city hall could have looked much different than it does today if architects had their way. How about dunce caps instead of glass pyramids? Monday marked the building's 25th anniversary.

'These glass pyramids are supposed to reflect a backdrop of mountains,' architect Gene Dub says

The 25-year-old pool needs to be upgraded by Nov. 30, 2019 to meet new provincial safety standards. (John Robertson/CBC)

Edmonton's city hall, which celebrated its 25th anniversary Monday, could have looked much different than it does today.

Instead of its striking glass pyramids, the original building designs included teepees to recognize the local Indigenous population.

But many at the time thought the design wouldn't properly represent Edmonton.

One councillor  even thought the teepees would look like dunce caps — making a mockery of municipal politicians.

Current and former politicians and members of the public filled the hall Monday for an event which also drew the building's architect, Gene Dub.

Dub spoke of how the building could have looked dramatically different from the way it turned out.

"After a lot of discussion, it was felt that Edmonton being the capital of Alberta, mountains as a backdrop to the Prairies was an appropriate image," Dub said. "These glass pyramids are supposed to reflect a backdrop of mountains."

City council eventually turned down the idea of spending money on a larger city hall so architects were forced to scale back on their design.

Elements of the former city hall are incorporated in the building located at 1 Sir Winston Churchill Square. Marble and granite from the former building are incorporated into the flooring of the current building.

Architects also added more public space to the city hall to welcome more public events. The building now hosts almost 300 events each year.

The downtown building opened its doors to the public on Aug. 28, 1992.

Dub believes the building will continue to be an iconic part of Edmonton's downtown.

"I think this building will be here in 100 years. I hope I'll be here for that celebration," he said.