Edmonton Funicular by DIALOG wins International Architecture Award


DIALOG’s 100 Street Funicular project in Edmonton has won a 2019 International Architecture Award. It is the only Canadian project recognized in this year’s awards.

The International Architecture Awards, organized by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies is the oldest annual public celebration of global architecture that sees practices around the world compete for international recognition of built form.

The International Architecture Awards are the only non-commercial, global, and public architecture awards program given jointly by two not-for-profit museums in the United States and Europe.

“Following a rigorous process from a record number of international submissions, this year’s 2019 shortlist of projects highlights the amazing work done by the talented architecture visionaries whose talent and innovation have created talking points that will span generations,” says Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President, The Chicago Athenaeum.

The North Saskatchewan River valley that runs through the middle of Edmonton is the largest urban parkland in North America—22 times the size of New York’s Central Park.

Photo Courtesy of DIALOG

The top of the river bank, which is home to Edmonton’s downtown, is cut off from the river valley and trails system below by a network of roadways, a steep slope, and an elevation change of 50m.

The river valley’s large elevation difference and steep slopes are part of its inherent beauty, but also makes access difficult for users with mobility challenges.

Photo Courtesy of DIALOG

The City of Edmonton has long sought to better connect downtown with the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

Allowing access along the steep slope, DIALOG’s 100 Street Funicular project allows Edmontonians and visitors a safe, immersive journey along the river bank with opportunities to take in the views.

In addition to the funicular, the project also integrates a pedestrian bridge and lookout with elevator access, an urban staircase , and a kebony boardwalk.

Photo Courtesy of DIALOG
Photo Courtesy of DIALOG

Beyond being a major infrastructure and accessibility project, the Funicular places an emphasis on placemaking and improvement of the public realm.

“We took the opportunity to create more than just a way of getting down into the river valley. This creates a space where people can dwell, spend time and enjoy the journey—experiencing the river bank and looking out over the valley,” says Donna Clare, Principal and Architect, DIALOG.

DIALOG surveyed people on location in both winter and summer. Many of the responses demonstrated the accessibility benefits of the project, along with the downtown attraction and tourism benefits. The team was especially proud of one response that captures the spirit of the project’s success: “The funicular makes it possible for our daughter with severe disabilities to join us on a family bike ride downtown and enjoy the city.”

Photo Courtesy of DIALOG

In its first year, the funicular made over 114,000 trips either up or down the track. At times, it made as many as 28 trips in an hour. Edmontonians have embraced the project as a gathering place and public amenity year-round.

As the only Canadian project recognized in this year’s competition, its form and functionality within an environmentally sensitive location is a banner representation of Canadian design.

Photo Courtesy of DIALOG