Enbridge Centre Takes History to the Street

December 20, 2017


Enbridge Centre is downtown Edmonton’s first new Financial District tower in 25 years. Designed by Dialog for Pangman Development Corporation and John Day Developments, it offers an engaging street frontage, incorporating the restored facades of the historically significant Kelly Ramsey Buildings that occupied the site and which were nearly destroyed by a fire in 2009. The project’s award winning design includes an upgraded public realm that promotes interaction with the building at ground level which supports the City of Edmonton’s vision of a sustainable, walkable downtown.

In being commissioned to plan and design the wayfinding program for the project, we were asked by the owners to consider the history of the original Kelly and Ramsey buildings and the important restoration of their facades which embrace the new tower. Many of Edmonton’s historic buildings are now gone, having given way to the promise of the future and progress, leaving only fragments to give us a glimpse of what once was. Beyond the architecture of the time, telling the Kelly Ramsey story was a chance to bring to life a captivating tale of two people, John Kelly, a blacksmith turned real estate developer, and James Ramsey, Edmonton’s ‘Merchant Prince’. In a story of optimism, enterprise and renewal, we link the architecture and commerce of the Kelly Ramsey Buildings with the social history, personalities and culture of the young city. This took the subject of the restored facades, which are recognized by the City of Edmonton as a historical resource, to a more engaging and interesting level for passersby.

The interpretive program brackets the restored facades in a series of colourful panel installations and granite markers located within the public realm of the site. These provide visitors with a chronological street side tour covering a period from 1911 to 2016. The process of research, storyline development and writing was led by Entro along with writer Trevor McConnell, and supported with great interest by the Enbridge Centre owners and Dialog.

We worked with Ledcor Group and specialty fabricators iZone Imaging and Creative Edge Master Shop to realize the finished design, which consists of powder coated aluminum sign frames, inset stainless steel and high pressure laminate graphic panels, and stainless steel lettering embedded within granite markers.

Enbridge Centre truly honours its history while creating the moments of discovery and engagement that are so often lacking in a typical downtown core. The project has been recognized by the City of Edmonton with 2017 Urban Design Awards for Civic Design and Heritage, as it was said to “bring Edmonton urban public space to the standard of other cities and set a new standard for the downtown core.”

Find out more about the Enbridge Centre here.