In 2011 the City of Edmonton held an ideas competition for concepts aimed at a Design, Build, Operate and Maintain program for a Mechanized River Valley Access System (MRVAS). Our team — the Cedar Waxwing Group — proposed a carbon-fibre wheeled, LSM-driven, Group-Rapid-Transit (GRT) system (12 passengers per car; 8 cars, initially).
Urban Design Integration and Impact on Surrounding Areas
While our land requirements for support infrastructure were minimal, our solution envisioned turning the entirety of 104th street from Jasper Avenue to the Old Rossdale Power Plant at river’s edge (North Saskatchewan River) into a linear pedestrian park. In the first leg of the park — between Jasper Avenue and 100th Ave. we proposed reducing thru-traffic lanes to two 4-metre courses, with drop off lanes near Jasper Ave. The land gained buy reducing vehicular access would be turned into a street-surface sculpture park (Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn as artist) intermingled with landscape design and street furniture elements, including planters, benches, vertical plant walls, an amphitheatre, integrated street lighting, and street sculpture.
The Jasper Avenue support structure would meet the ground at four points along 104th street. The “floating” station would have opportunities for connections to the four adjacent buildings that meet the intersection at its corners — the Birks Building, the one-time “Sobeys” Building, the Standard Life Centre Building, and the Jaffer Building (upper floors in all cases).
The second leg of the linear pedestrian park (100th Ave. to 99th Ave.) would enhance the tree plantings along 104th street to include broad circular plantings, removing the lawn in favor of additional street furniture and a continuation of Larisa’s street-surface mural. The next ground support structure for the guideway would occur at the intersection of 99th Ave. and 104th street with a similar configuration to that of 100th Ave. Here, again, for this section of the linear park, we would look to remove surface parking, and narrow the road to two 4-metre vehicle lanes in each direction.
Over the river valley rim, the existing grassy section, including the portion that connects to 103rd street, in our plan would be redesigned as a ramped, wheelchair accessible, winding path that interstitially supports benches and planters — planters that would be commissioned as a fully- featured fruit park, displaying all manner of apple, crab apple, cherry, plum, apricot, and pear trees; fruit-bearing shrubs; and ground-cover plants. A component of this innovative park structure would feature light-emitting sculptures that would provide night-time illumination with a flare. A part of the park would be devoted to an exploratorium for younger children. The guideway structure would have ground supports midway between the top and bottom of the steep incline with additional structures at the top and bottom of the existing grassy section.
The lower leg of the park from the bottom of the grass slope to 97th Ave, would be constricted to two lanes of vehicular traffic (no street parking) and would support Alex Janvier’s street-face surface mural mixed in with an intensively landscaped park similar to that described between Jasper Ave. and 100th Ave. The guideway would be supported by double “X” structures at pedestrian stop points at all street intersections on the lower run. The portion of Alex’s street mural between 97th Ave and the riverside station would more resemble the upper section of Larisa’s park between 100th Ave. and 99th Ave., maintaining street trees in their current locations while expanding street amenities. The surround of the riverside station we envision as a plaza devoted to Alberta’s First Nations tribes — a design compilation featuring Douglas Cardinal’s Architectural team, Alex Janvier and Laura Powell’s Landscape team.