New downtown arena conceptual images were leaked today. Our initial reaction is that it addresses many of our fundamental concerns about good urban design at street level and pedestrian connectivity. Love or hate the ‘winter garden’, or pedway over 104 Avenue, this ‘extension’ of the arena and the use of glass in the building helps to soften the blow of such a structure. In fact, it is more that the arena itself swoops over the street rather than just a pedway for moving people. It has interesting possibilities, but we’re still not convinced (and many of our residents aren’t convinced) whether it’s entirely necessary.
The expected ancillary developments will be key to overall integration and for spurring activity. We are told we can expect a hotel, condos, office and retail – some in the first phase of development.
Moving the arena further west (along 104 Street) will allow for 102 Street to open north of 104 Avenue for limited vehicle access and mostly pedestrian activity. The proposed ‘community rink’ will look onto this street. Unfortunately, no word on when or if the Baccarat Casino will be left ‘as is’ in the first building phase or not.
104 Avenue could be redesigned to create better balance between vehicles and pedestrians and create that all-too-uncommon activity at street level people crave for our downtown and this project. Council has final say on the pedway element. With the current design, the architects have made it much harder for them to say ‘no’.
Rick Daviss, Executive Director for the Downtown Arena Project, will be our special guest at our Annual General Meeting. These images give you a preview of the presentation we will see on May 15.
Full schematic drawings will be presented to City Council on May 16 with public consultation happening shortly after.
More images are available on the City of Edmonton’s website: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/news/2012/new-arena-images-available.aspx