Royal Alberta Museum


Model and Building information

This is a tough one. I quite like the RAM, especially the main entrance and the long plaza. It is majestic, while still being peaceful. And some of the materials and interiors are just gorgeous.

But.

Having a site like that, and basically ignoring the river valley? Even the layout of the grounds seems designed to keep people safe from having to experience the cheap showiness of nature. Tourists do seem to find the Pagoda in the southeast corner of the site, which is good. But even there you're not presented with a lookout over the river, so much as just a hole through the trees. The best view on the entire site is probably from the carriage and utility house, which the public doesn't have access to.

Also, the north elevation facing onto 102 avenue is just terrible. I assume the design was intended to minimize the disruption to the existing residential surroundings, but it doesn't. It's brutal in both style and effect. Edmonton was certainly a different city when the museum was built in 1967, but 102 avenue is now a main route into downtown from the west end, and overhead doors really don't present the best face of a Royal museum.

And all of that is a long way of saying that in 2005 a major addition and renovation of the RAM was proposed, and while normally I'm a defender of modern architecture, in this case I say bring on the reno. I like the original building, but it's certainly not perfect. The proposed addition unfortunately destroys the best parts of the original museum, but it also addresses all of the worst. That project has now been in government funding limbo for several years though, so it is anyone's guess if it will ever happen.

In terms of the model, it is pretty straightforward. The carvings on the south elevation of the theatre are all accurately reproduced in the model, so there's no cheating here.

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