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Former Royal Alberta Museum

 
Royal Alberta
Photo: Kurt Bauschardt

Modernist gem under threat.

Location

Edmonton, Alberta

Why it matters

Set on the park-like grounds of Government House overlooking the North Saskatchewan River, the former Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) building is a stunning example of Midcentury Modern architecture. Opened in 1967 as part of the federal government’s Confederation Memorial Centennial Program, the exterior blends the Brutalist architectural style with dramatically cut Manitoba Tyndall stone, while the interior features extensive marble and brass fittings. Its south facade is adorned with carvings reproducing the First Nations petroglyph designs from Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park. To generations of Albertans, the museum is a cherished place associated with fond memories of discovery and wonder.

Why it’s endangered

The former Royal Alberta Museum closed its doors in December 2015 and its collections are being moved to a new building slated to open in 2018. Though no decision has been made on the future of the former RAM, the Government of Alberta released a RFP in March to complete demolition/deconstruction assessment and develop a plan to redevelop the site into an open green space. The roof of the building reportedly needs repair, but otherwise it is in excellent condition. An adaptive use of this high-quality and much loved building is surely the more sustainable choice.