Saskatchewan Drive

The Manhattan and Strathcona House

Capital View Tower and Riverwind

Waterford House, Tower on the Hill and Lord Strathcona Manor

Kennedy Towers, Cranleigh Towers, and the Water's Edge

Parkside Towers and One River Park

9929 Saskatchewan Drive and Riverview Manor

My first models on the south side of the river, and from west-to-east this mostly completes the skyline along Saskatchewan Drive.

There are a couple of really nice building along here - notably One River Park and Riverwind. There is also the funky modernism of Kennedy Towers and Capital View Tower, and the cold precision of the Water's Edge.

Too many of these buildings - notably One River Park and Riverwind - make the mistake of thinking that people only want views of the river and that everything else secondary. This is a problem throughout Edmonton resulting in many forgotten north walls, although in the case of Saskatchewan drive it is the south wall that is ignored.

A rail right-of-way runs behind several of these buildings and beyond that is heritage neighbourhood, so while there is no such thing as a guaranteed view the one south from these towers is pretty close. I haven't spent much time on low-low floors, but from 6 or 8 storeys up almost any view will look good, and at 10 or 20 storeys the view out to the distant Alberta horizon can be spectacular. Maybe one day Edmonton will figure that out, but after more than 50 years of high-rise construction it hasn't happened yet.

The Uptown and Grosvenor House

Model and Building information

These could have been bundled in with one of my previous posts of apartment buildings, but I thought the deserved their own post.

The Uptown is - as of this moment - the newest completed condo in central Edmonton. Edmonton didn't see all that much high-rise construction in the recent worldwide real estate boom, but the Uptown is definitely one of the better ones. It's not as flashy as what you would find in other cities, but I think that is partly a reasonable approach given our climate, and partly due to the limitations of what a "high-rise" can be because of the airport.

Grosvenor House is just a supercool artifact from the 1970's. It is located just off the river valley, but if it was half a block south and rotated 90 degrees it would be the building in Edmonton. It's still a great building, although the model doesn't convey that at all, unfortunately:


The blue truck knocked over a mailbox and then wedged itself onto a telephone post. The driver and passengers tried to unwedge it, but when that failed they hopped into another truck and took off. All of this with the truck's horn stuck blaring from the collision.

My girlfriend called it in to 911 (I was asleep for most of the exciting stuff), and a little while later we got a call from the police saying that they had suspects in custody. Hooray.

This marks the third time that I've seen an idiot v. inanimate object collision at this corner. Here's a grainier one from last year:

The placement of the lampposts, telephone posts and trees along there must be magic. They are what the idiots always hit, and in this case that's definitely good news for Floc and Pedalhead.

21.5 more Apartments, and 0.5 Offices

The Elmhurst and Riverview Towers

The Mayflower and Park Place

Illuminada I & II

The Wimbledon, B&H Tower and Shaughnessy House

Hudson House, The Hargate and Prominence Place

Hyde Park, The Berkeley and The Albany

Centurion Towers and Oak Tower

Oliver Place, Oakwood Towers and the Mountbatten

Park Plaza, Oxbridge Place & The Carlton

In this batch of models the 0.5 of an office and an apartment is Park Plaza, which has 6 floors of residential above 10 floors of office. As far as I know, it is the only building of that type in Edmonton. (It also shouldn't be confused with Park Square, Park Place, Park Tower, Parkside Tower, or Central Park).

Also in this group is the Wimbledon, which I would have to say is by far the most phallic building in Edmonton especially when viewed from Jasper Avenue. Something like that doesn't just happen by accident, does it?

Beyond that, these models are mostly interesting because they largely "complete" the skyline of Oliver. There are still a few office buildings to do around 112 Street, and a few more apartments that I just happened to miss when I was taking photos, but this is basically it.

Gibson Block

Model and Building information

Edmonton's own flat iron building, complete with a painted sign that's almost enough to get me drinking Pepsi:

The model itself is just okay. I've mentioned patchwork buildings before, and this one has some of that with the entrance and the north side just not quite working out.

30 Apartments and 1 Office

I don't particularly like modeling apartment buildings, but occasionally I'm hit with a need for completeness. This set has a few buildings in the McKay Avenue area, along with a lot in southeast Oliver and Grandin. Previously I hadn't done anything in that area, but this should fill it in nicely.

Hillside Estates North & South, Dunedin House and McDougall Place

Grandin Green and the David Thompson

Park Towers, the Panorama and the Edgehill

Central Park, the Trethway, Dorchester House & Maureen Manor

Valhalla and Victoria Park Tower

York House, Bondell Tower, Lancaster House & the DeVille

Academy Place and Windsor Arms

Capital Place, Tower on the Park and Grandin Manor

Westwind Estates and Le Jardin

Tegler Manor, Rosedale Place, Westcliffe Arms and Grandin Towers

Cathedral Court

Apartment buildings are a really great way to learn how to do photereferenced models in Sketchup. If you're interested in taking a crack at modeling they are the absolute best place to start because apartment buildings are impossible to screw up.

In the same way that they are impossible to screw up they are also almost impossible to do really well. There are three or four different ways to model balconies (all on display here), and none of them are good. With a model like the Baker Clinic, QE II Planetarium or SAGE you can strip away the questionable additions, the neglect, and the urban clutter to reveal the hidden intent. With an apartment building there's nothing hidden - it's a box; or in this case many, many boxes. Apartments get pretty boring once the initial learning is over.

Probably the most interesting thing about these models is seeing "families" of buildings pop up. There are the obvious ones like Hillside Estates North and South; and the more recent Grandin Manor, Grand Central Manor, Lord Strathcona Manor, etc.  There are also:

The David Thompson and Capital Centre
The Edgehill and Victoria Park Towers
Maureen Manor, York House, Academy Place, Windsor Arms and several more I haven't gotten to.
Grandin Towers and Jasper House
Le Jardin, Jasper 111 and Rocky Mountain Court in Calgary

10830 Jasper Avenue

Model and Building information

Model and Building Information

It was however, a building doomed by its material choices. The drab concrete lattice over the drab brown brick is tough to defend, and the building probably looked tired and dirty on the day that it opened. Maybe if the brick had been red or if the lattice was a shiny aluminum then there would have been more affection for the building, or at least it might have been less disliked. The new version and all of its crazy shapes upholds the quirkiness of the original, but I do wish that they'd somehow managed to integrate the lattice into the new design.

This will mark the fifth shiny blue office building prominently visible from Jasper Avenue (sixth if you count all the way down to 124st). With it's odd shape there is no real risk that it will be confused with any of the others, but some diversity wouldn't hurt. Downtown Edmonton is already a sea of brutalist concrete, and I'm not sure that striking back with a wave of reflective blue monoliths is the way to go. Would another Bell or Canadian Western Bank have been too much to ask?

One nice change is that the windows are a slightly different blue than the spandrel panels below them. This combined with the exaggerated horizontal mullions and the hidden vertical mullions gives it a banded appearance, rather than the uniformity of Manulife or the new Devonian. I think they could have gone a bit further with it though, either darkening the spandrels or making the windows more transparent (humbug to energy efficiency). The banding is prominent but it doesn't quite pop, and on a cloudy day you might not even notice it.

The building is also subject to the same height restrictions that have led to downtown Edmonton's many cubic "high-rises" which are as tall as they are wide. 10830 is actually quite a bit wider than it is tall, but the manic massing tries to hide that. That seems to be the approach Procura will be taking with all of its developments in the area, which should feel more interesting than the duplo-blocks-as-urban-design approach of the government area a few blocks to the south.

It also goes without saying that the new retail spaces will be such a welcome addition to Jasper, in an area that has been a black hole for a decade? More?