Strengths and weaknesses across City’s architectural landscape

Landmarks are funny things. For thousands of years human beings have used landmarks in a variety of ways. We use them in navigation, in historical contexts, for inspiration of literature, songs and poetry, and frequently plan trips around such attractions.

New York without Central Park? Paris without the Louvre? Moose Jaw without the big Moose? Don’t think so.

But what do we have in Red Deer that could qualify as a landmark that would draw people to our fair settlement and entice them to bring out their cameras and snap away?

We have Fort Normandeau. We have the Michener Building atop Michener Hill. We have the ‘Onion’ watertower on South Hill. We have the Cronquist House at Bower Ponds, and for those with a hankering for 1900 architecture, 56 Street filled with the handiwork of Mr. Gaetz and family.

We have Heritage Ranch, and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Downtown boasts a beautifully restored bank turned jewelry store, and a refunctioned railway station. Douglas Cardinal weighs in with our best known architectural icon, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church on 39 St. After that, what else?

Where are the bold, designers whose visionary concepts shaped our city? Where are the revolutionary thinkers who, given license and responsibility to create a plan that incorporates both function and form in perfect balance?

We have seen flashes of such creativity recently, with the Fourth Junction project. Paul Pettypiece and team have assembled an attractive/functional blend of past, present, and future for the Riverlands area.

The River Valley and Tributaries Park Concept is bold and deserves broad support and encouragement. Rivers have always been the lifeblood of any community, and always will be.

The City of Red Deer is to be commended for their efforts to make City Hall Park an attractive place to gather and relax. Our park system is extensive, well maintained, and readily accessible for the majority of citizens.

All is not well however.

Consider our most recent additions to the city. Sweeping vistas of natural prairie have been replaced by cookie cutter houses. Downtown can now boast a 13-story office tower with a small amount of style.

Our new neighborhoods often appear to be carbon copies of other areas, right down to the house designs, fit and finish. The new city yards at Three Mile Bend are beautiful and ‘modern’ to the core, but I really wonder how soon a century flood will render the whole area unusable, and how desperately the ensuing reclamation efforts will bankrupt Red Deer?

And then there is the Sorenson Station.

The long term plan to rebuild a downtown bus station complete with parking above is admirable. The green concept built into the roof and sides is timely and appreciated. Even the shiny side panels are interesting, and attractive.

Form aside, the creation of a parking facility downtown without support from a vibrant, private business, traffic generating small scale economy is short sighted. In truth, the Ghost Project statues generate more tourist interest than a bus terminal and are more sustainable in the long haul.

Mr. Mann will forever conduct his beloved Red Deer Royals while our downtown bus terminal becomes just another building that will someday be replaced by an office tower, or phased out as public transportation services fall out of style.

Creative architectural design should be our halcyon, not our epitaph. Buildings, communities, and features should compel, rather than repel public interest. We are best served by our communities when our surroundings challenge us and not lull us into a false sense of cosmetic security.

Tim Lasiuta

Red Deer

Just Posted

Red Deer rebounding, hosting AUMA convention

Hundreds of municipal officials gather in Red Deer for the AUMA

Celebrate ‘Alberta Culture Days’ here in Red Deer

Lots of family-friendly activities set for this coming weekend

On the run with Melissa Ray

Red Deer runner talks about her intense running experiences

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after truck collides with pub

RCMP are investigating the incident as an impaired driving collision

CATena offers glimpse into Central Alberta Theatre’s new season

Visitors can also check out Memorial Centre refurbishments

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on customer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Robbery report at outlet mall turns out to be fake: police

Leduc RCMP respond to weapons complaint at premium outlet collection mall

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Most Read