A Visual History of the Downtown Arena
Unless you’ve been living under a snowdrift the past week, you’ve probably heard that city council approved the zoning for an Arena and Entertainment District on Tuesday. Back in December we outlined what this zoning allows—it provides a broad framework for a number of entertainment facilities, allowing everything from retail and liquor stores to churches.
With the fancy architectural images floating around in the media, it may feel as though the city has approved a design or proposal, but the fact is that if an arena ends up getting built it may look nothing at all like what we’re seeing today. The AED zone is a set of specifications for the developer to work within, and so a final arena may include all or very few of the allowable facilities.
In this spirit, we’ve done a little digging and pulled up some proposed arena renderings from the past. Enjoy!
You’re not even trying!
March 25, 2008 — Source: Canada.com/Edmonton Journal
This one’s just for your entertainment, and is almost undoubtedly a terrible photoshop perpetrated by someone at the Journal, for obvious reasons.
The Reese Peanut Butter Cup Arena
November 25, 2008 — Source: Edmonton Journal / Gene Dub
Way back when, the dominant school of thought was for a new arena to go into the Quarters. This design would have been regarded as bad feng shui, and besides, the Chinese already did the bird nest thing better.
September 2, 2009 — Source: Edmonton Journal / The Cult of Hockey
I have no idea who is responsible for this concept, but I’m glad it didn’t get far. Imagine having to stand up in front of council and declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, we present for your consideration… triangle intercourse.”
The Chrome Jelly Bean
February 9, 2010 — Source: Global Edmonton / Katz Group
This is the first design I’ve found that has multiple angles and a little more detail to it. Ignore the fact that it looks like a cross between the Cloud Gate and that ship from Flight of the Navigator.
The Latest Proposal(s)
January 21, 2011 — Source: Edmonton Arena District / Katz Group
Which brings us to the current offering. If you think my intent here is to critique this design, then you’ll be disappointed. That’s because there isn’t one design represented here. Throughout the recent debate the discourse has been about the proposed arena, when what we’ve got pictures of is a few different possible arenas. They’re like the attention-grabbing concept vehicle designs shown in Detroit long before the production vehicle hits the streets, and like vehicular reality, I’m concerned the final arena design will be a watered down version of what we’re seeing today. These projects have a tendency to lose their grandeur while being more costly than initially thought.
The next step will be discussions of how to finance this ambitious project, and before council can decide if the benefits to the community are greater than the financial costs we’re going to need to see a much more detailed design. It’s important to know what you’re actually buying before you lay the cash on the table, and to that end the city has entered formal negotiations with the Katz Group.
We here at the Charrette look forward to seeing what designs come forward in the future.