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RAIC Alberta Implores City of Edmonton not to Water Down the Sustainability Objective of Former City Centre Airport Lands Plan

Edmonton June 09, 2014 – As Canada’s leading voice dedicated to advancing excellence in the built environment, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Alberta Chapter notes the importance placed on developing the former City Centre Airport lands (known as Blatchford) as a model of excellence in sustainable community living. The City’s assertion at various public forums that “Blatchford is not a business as usual development” sums up the aspiration of excellence and sustainability objective envisioned for Blatchford.

Within the context of “not a business as usual” promised by the City, the RAIC Alberta Chapter note with concern recent media coverage (see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/blatchford-development-plans-scaled-back-1.2666757) highlighting that the redevelopment plans for the former City Centre Airport lands have been significantly downsized from the original environmentally-innovative vision.

With an international design competition that featured world renowned firms like Norman Forster (UK), Snøhetta (Norway) and Perkins + Wills (Canada + USA),  Edmontonians were promised through the design competition that Blatchford will be a world leading model for an environmentally sustainable, carbon-neutral, transit-oriented, mixed use community for 30,000 residents. 

The City of Edmonton Vision and Strategic Plan highlights sustainability (“The Way We Green”) as a key component to the success of the city.  The Way We Green envisions Edmonton as a sustainable and resilient city – achieving highest standards of preservation and sustainability. Considering the scope of the proposed downsizing on Blatchford (highlighted in recent media coverage), it is feared that the City is reaching for the middle (mediocre) with a compromised design and backing away from its original commitment to highest standards on Blatchford. By settling for a compromised design, the City is succumbing to the fear of change and lowering standards at a time it ought to feel challenged to improve standards.  Downsizing and lowering the sustainability standards on Blatchford could result in the City not meeting its goal of 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, thereby changing the course of its own vision.

To achieve a successful sustainable community, the development of Blatchford must be seen as an investment in the future of the city. It is important to note that lowest cost is not a reliable measure of value because it doesn’t take into account how well the asset performs on many levels and throughout its life cycle. To this end, downsizing and deviating from the core sustainability objectives of Blatchford (as evident in the dramatic changes proposed in the design of the site’s infrastructure) is not only an affirmation of “business as usual”, it could have an impact on the economic viability of the development.

Drawing on several examples in Canada and internationally, Sustainable communities tend to quickly increase in value as more units sell (from phase to phase). Developments such as Dockside in Victoria, Concord Pacific (post-Expo 86 lands) in Vancouver were able to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit by first developing an innovative, beautiful and sustainable infrastructure, which created a marketable commodity. Done well as originally envisioned, Blatchford will provide significant returns back to the City and position Edmonton as a leader in developing sustainable communities.

Investing up front in good design and excellent infrastructure generates significant savings in subsequent maintenance and operation costs to recover the initial construction cost of the asset. The City of Edmonton has a chance to do something GREAT with Blatchford for the benefit of Edmontonians; however, courage leadership and commitment is needed to create the carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable community for 30,000 residents in Blatchford. This cannot be achieved on the heels of watering down the sustainability objectives promised to Edmontonians like other developments in Edmonton have done before. Mediocrity should not be an option for Blatchford.

The RAIC Alberta Chapter remains optimistic that with our young, dynamic and visionary Mayor Don Iveson, coupled with his forward-thinking members of council, the City, through Blatchford, will stay the course in establishing Edmonton as a world leader in creating world class sustainable communities. We recommend the City to establish an entity – independent from City Administration and accountable to Council – to be the champion to see through the implementation of the Blatchford plans that Edmontonians and the world has seen and endorsed.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada – RAIC | Architecture Canada is a voluntary national association established in 1907 as the leading voice for excellence in the built environment. The RAIC is dedicated to championing sustainable growth of our community, economy and culture, demonstrating how smart design can enhance quality of life, while addressing important issues of society through responsible architecture.

For more information:

Mike Johnson / Basel Abdulaal / Samuel Oboh

RAIC Alberta Chapter


780-399 .4287


RAIC endorses ACCERT

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) endorses the Alberta Consulting Construction Emergency Relief Team (ACCERT) — a pro-active, collaborative, not-for-profit organization established to assist in disaster relief and reconstruction efforts related to natural disasters, adverse events or calamity.

The RAIC recognizes the need to respond quickly to emergencies and assemble the project teams needed to deliver critical infrastructure in times of disaster.

Following the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, the resources to swiftly deliver flood relief and recovery projects were severely challenged. It is against this backdrop and in response to requests for assistance from the built-environment sector that ACCERT was established.  Through the innovative collaboration of associations representing architects, engineers and builders in Alberta, ACCERT provides a made-in-Alberta solution directed to resource challenges experienced by Alberta Infrastructure and other government recovery organizations.

The RAIC has reviewed ACCERT’s Memorandum of Association. It accepts ACCERT’s logical, collaborative and proactive approach to providing access to the combined resources of key disciplines. Such an approach will enable efficient and excellent delivery of disaster relief and reconstruction projects.

RAIC | Architecture Canada is a voluntary national association established in 1907 as the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. It seeks to build awareness and appreciation of the built environment.

We feel that ACCERT’s intentions are in line with the RAIC’s mission to: affirm that architecture matters; celebrate the richness and diversity of architecture in Canada; and support architects in achieving excellence.

RAIC issues a statement about unpaid student internships.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) upholds the right of architectural interns to receive payment for their work.

The profession has a responsibility to encourage students and graduates. A fair wage shows young people that their work is valued and recognizes the contribution they make to an office.

Compensation creates respect between present-day architects and future architects. It also represents good professional practice.

Unpaid internships contradict the RAIC’s mission — to affirm that architecture matters and to support architects in achieving excellence.

Do you know a project in Alberta that should be profiled by In-Context?

IN-CONTEXT is a video documentary series presented by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) – profiling urban design and public architecture projects across Canada that have made profound impact on their local environment.


If you know about a public architecture project that has successfully improved the urban environment, In-Context will want to hear from you. Please submit your thoughts, ideas and suggestions to IN-CONTEXT  or email video testimonials, descriptions, photos and stories to entries@incontextvideos.com

Continue to check the IN-CONTEXT website for ideas, stories and examples of the importance of architecture to our public and private lives.

Incontext Video

RAIC and City of Edmonton 2013 Urban Design Awards – Call for Entries

For more information about the awards, click here.

To download Entry Forms, click here

The City of Edmonton and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Alberta Chapter wish to promote a greater awareness of this role. For this reason, the Urban Design Awards have been established to recognize individuals, organizations, firms and projects that have contributed to enhancing the quality of life in Edmonton.

We invite you to participate in this celebration of excellence.EUDA2013_CallForEntries.

RAIC Alberta Chapter Launches Photo Competition


RAIC Alberta Chapter Launches Photo Competition

to Reveal the Hidden Beauty of Alberta Architecture

Edmonton, September 16, 2013 –

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC – Alberta Chapter) has announced its first annual architectural photo competition aimed at revealing the hidden beauty of Alberta architecture and its role in sustaining Canada’s most westerly prairie province as a world-class travel destination.

 In the ‘Call for Entries’ package for the competition, scheduled to run from September 16, 2013 to February 27 2014, the RAIC acknowledges that Alberta is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth. “Architecture is definitely one of the most important stimuli that helps accentuate the grandeur and beauty of Alberta but is not often explicitly acknowledged as an essential tourism element,” says Samuel Oboh, RAIC Regional Director for Alberta / NWT.

Entries into the competition, open to enthusiasts from all works of life, will be reviewed by an independent Jury composed of renowned photographers and experts including Jim Dobie, Jonathan Luckhurst and Owen Murray. As explained by Mike Johnson a member of the competition committee, “the subject image entered into the competition may be of any scale and may also include buildings, recognizable details of buildings or structures; architecturally designed memorials, monuments, landscapes and bridges, architecturally designed industrial structures / systems, architecturally inspired cultural heritage / historic assets / artifacts, inspiring construction site(s) with noteworthy tourism points of interest.”

Darrel Babuk, another member of the competition committee noted that “this completion is very unique because it provides an opportunity for everyone – irrespective of where they live, to use a ubiquitous medium – photography –  to promote Alberta’s architecture and high quality built environment to the world. This is truly unique.”

Winners of the photo competition will be announced in Edmonton, Alberta during spring of 2014 and a presentation gala is planned for summer of 2014 where memorabilia, prize money, and certificates will be presented to winning entrants. Additionally, the RAIC plans to publish and develop the jury-selected winning entries into a book of post cards and to curate a travelling exhibition in various locations locally and internationally. 

The competition has been made possible by sponsors including West Canadian; Al-Terra; Calgary Economic Development; Shanahan’sStuart Olson Dominion; Bold Design; KFR Engineering; Khanatek Technologies; with publicity support from MADE and Canadian Architect. 

The RAIC is Canada’s largest and oldest voluntary national architectural association established in 1907 as the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada.  With over 4,600 members, the RAIC works to celebrate the richness and diversity of architecture in Canada and supports excellence and innovation in place making through initiatives such as this photo competition.

The RAIC thanks all sponsors for their support and for making this competition possible.


For more information on the RAIC first annual architectural photo competition, visit:

www.raic.org/alberta or e-mail: alberta@raic.org



RAIC AB Supports Protecting and Preserving Edmonton’s Rossdale Power Plant

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada – RAIC Alberta Chapter, in a letter to Edmonton’s Mayor Stephen Mandel on July 7th 2013, supports the initiative of the Rossdale Regeneration Community Group. The Chapter recommend that the City of Edmonton continue to protect and preserve the Rossdale Power Plant for at least one year, or until a new use can be found for this valuable historic resource.

As the leading voice for Architects and Architecture in Alberta, the RAIC Alberta Chapter, primarily made up of practicing architects in Alberta and across Canada, agrees that the heritage value of this building in its prominent river valley site is irreplaceable and a permanent landmark representing a very important aspect of the Edmonton’s history, namely the production of electrical power when it was constructed between 1931 and 1954. Buildings of this magnitude are rare and the Rossdale Power Plant has become a symbol of the city, along with other important historical structures such as the High Level Bridge.


We all know that too many heritage buildings have been lost to proposed redevelopment over the years, and there is some regret that we were not able to find adaptive re-uses at the time the decisions were made to demolish. Having said this, we now have the opportunity to, first, protect the Rossdale Power Plant building from ongoing deterioration and, second, to continue to explore options for adaptive reuse.


The RAIC Alberta Chapter supports the involvement from interested groups and a broad public consultation process that is compatible with the exciting plans for this part of the river valley. We urge City Council to invest in the future by investing in preserving this very special building and we believe that it is in the best interest of Edmontonians, Albertans and Canadians that every effort be made to preserve and reuse the Rossdale Power Plant. It would be a tragic loss if we cannot do this.

RAIC | Architecture Canada is the leading voice of architecture in Canada. It seeks to build awareness and appreciation of the contribution of architecture to the physical and cultural well-being of Canadians and regularly advocates for a high quality built-environment through responsible architecture for all.

The letter to Mayor Mandel was signed by Samuel Oboh, FRAIC, RAIC’s Regional Director for Alberta & Northwest Territories on behalf of the Chapter.


Statement issued by Samuel Oboh, FRAIC, RAIC | Architecture Canada Regional Director for Alberta & Northwest Territories regarding the current situation in Calgary and Southern Alberta: June 25, 2013

Hello All,

As an update to my message yesterday, June 24, 2013 (see Canadian Architect) and on behalf of the RAIC Board, I will like to thank members of the RAIC for their overwhelming support and positive response to our call for help with the relief and recovery efforts in Calgary and Southern Alberta. As grim as the stories from the affected communities are, it is gratifying to note that many of our members are helping in various ways. In the last couple of days, many have connected with various disaster response communities such as Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, Canadian Red Cross, eMi Canada, the City of Calgary, etc., to help in various capacities while others have travelled from different parts of the country to the affected areas to help.

Members interested in finding out how they can help can visit the Government of Alberta website (http://alberta.ca/how-you-can-help.cfm). Individuals (architects and engineers) interested in volunteering and assisting the City of Calgary with damage assessment and recovery efforts or wishing to contribute supplies and equipment to help (through the City of Calgary) may complete the relevant forms attached and send directly to Duane Bruce (duane.bruce@calgary.ca). Please note that needs are being coordinated by the City through local muster points. For questions on this initiative with the City, please contact Duane Bruce directly by e-mail or call him at 403.333.3513.

Amid the grim stories out there, the RAIC will like to inspire hope and help in the recovery efforts as much as possible and as such, members are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas, stories, thoughts, photographs and texts (regarding RAIC members experience and involvement in the recovery efforts) through the RAIC Regional Director for Alberta & Northwest Territories by e-mail (Samuel Oboh). Please note that except otherwise requested, information collected will be posted on the RAIC Alberta Chapter website to encourage others to get involved and help.

Once again, while thanking everyone for the unrelenting support, the RAIC Alberta Chapter will like to encourage members to continue reaching out to affected communities to offer much needed professional service and help (especially to smaller and remotely located communities). As the RAIC works out details of specific initiatives aimed at assisting and supporting members in the rebuilding and recovery phase, members should be rest assured that the institute will continue to advocate and explore innovative and effective ways of getting the architectural community to be actively involved (in meaningful ways) in the long term recovery and rebuilding of communities affected by the floods.

Volunteer Forms:


— Your participation is very important —

BIM is revolutionizing the construction sector world-wide. Key strengths of this approach to modeling include:

  • BIM technology is a tool for enhancing both productivity and quality of work.
  • Three-dimensional representations of functional and physical characteristics of projects that form a shared source of information throughout the project’s life cycle.
  • A single source of all building information for planning and implementing renovations, servicing key operational systems and even providing informational needs for emergency response providers.

Alberta Finance and Enterprise together with four of Alberta’s educational institutions (University of Alberta, University of Calgary, NAIT and SAIT) are preparing to put Alberta’s construction sector at the forefront of this developing technology by establishing an Alberta Centre of Excellence in Building Information Modeling (ACE-BIM).  The Centre will promote the use of BIM, educate businesses and individuals in its use, assist them with the implementation of BIM and play a research and development role in the advancement of the technology and the accompanying infrastructure and industry changes that it might require.

Representatives of organizations and employees that will be impacted by the adoption of BIM are being invited to complete an online survey to inform the ACE-BIM task team about their current awareness, perceptions and participation in BIM. This information will assist the team to develop effective marketing strategies to ensure Alberta remains an innovative leader of the construction sector.  Results of this survey will be presented at a BIM symposium in the fall of 2011.

How to Participate:

The ACE-BIM task team has contracted Nichols Applied Management, an independent consulting firm, to conduct the online survey. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete.  The web address for the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Implementation Survey is:


Please complete this online survey by August 22, 2011.

Thank you for your participation.

The information you provide is being collected under the authority of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and will be used only for this research project.  Should you have any questions about the ACE-BIM or the survey, please contact:

Catherine Wirt [mailto: cwirt@nicholsappliedmanagement.com]


Allison Mones [mailto: amones@ualberta.ca]