National Urban Design Awards — 2020 Recipient | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

National Urban Design Awards — 2020 Recipient

Mechanized River Valley Access
Award Category: 
National Urban Design Awards
Civic Design Projects

Lead Firm: DIALOG
Completion: December 2017

The Mechanized River Valley Access connects Edmonton’s downtown with its spectacular river valley. The large elevation difference and steep slopes of the river valley are part of its great beauty, but it makes access difficult for users with mobility challenges. The Mechanized River Valley Access was imagined addressing this connectivity challenge. The intuitive, barrier-free journey includes a funicular, staircase, promenade and park, pedestrian bridge, lookout, and elevator, allowing people to overcome the steep riverbank slope. It's not only a major infrastructure and accessibility project, but this is also a remarkable urban space defined by placemaking and delight throughout all seasons.

Jury Comment(s): 

"Despite its modest title, this Edmonton project exceeded the criteria for this award: compatibility with an urban plan, contribution to the public realm, design excellence, and demonstration of the value of urban design."
“Connecting downtown Edmonton with its beautiful river valley has long been an urban design objective. The completed project cleverly combines a funicular, ramps, and glass elevator to make this connection, but does much more.”

"A beautifully-conceived ensemble of built structures, open spaces, and public art that successfully connects Edmonton's downtown to the river valley. The juxtaposition of landscape attributes—in particular, its topographical and visual qualities—and the architectural details and materiality of the downtown milieu are compelling. How the project also integrates various existing infrastructure, such as the pedestrian/cycling paths and the vehicular roadways, into a cohesive threshold experience is remarkable."

Jury members

Click for full version: 
River valley setting

PHOTO: Tom Arban

Urban Stairs and funicular landing

PHOTO: Tom Arban

Promenade with public art benches

PHOTO: Tom Arban

Elevator and trails

PHOTO: Cooper & O’Hara

Pedestrian bridge and river valley

PHOTO: Tom Arban

Render of aerial view looking east