North East Transit Garage

gh3 (lead design architects) with Morrison Hershfield (prime consultant)


Custom stainless steel panels form a rhythmic skin around the transit garage, including around roof lanterns and mechanical penthouses.

The North East Transit Garage is big architecture on a big site. The 38,340-square-metre building will accommodate approximately 320 workers and 300 buses, and includes the Edmonton Transit System’s administrative offices.

The historic smokestack is preserved as a beacon within the site’s large expanse.

Bordered by the Trans-Canada Highway, the Edmonton LRT corridor and Fort Road, the 9.7-hectare site was once industrial; the only artifact remaining from its previous use, a 50-metre-tall Canada Packers smokestack, is preserved.

A view from the south towards the entrances to the bus storage and maintenance garage.

The project performs at the scale of urban infrastructure, while providing more intimately scaled amenities for transit employees. Sheathed in corrugated stainless steel panels and mirrored glass, the building has an elemental and simply articulated presence. It invokes the industrial legacy of the site and of modern architecture, without lapsing into nostalgia for either.

Generous roof lanterns provide natural light to the main atrium.

Roof lanterns bring diffused natural daylight into the workplaces, while social areas such as the cafeteria enjoy views to a garden and the historic smokestack. The alignment of angled walls and a footpath create visual and physical connections across the site.

Bioswales and densely planted trees help remediate the site, while creating a thick threshold between the building and its surroundings.

The need to remove three metres of contaminated soil provides an opportunity to locate one level of employee parking under the bus storage area, freeing up space to insert a mediating landscape of trees, bio-swales and gabion walls between the vast building and the surrounding traffic.

Manon Asselin :: It’s amazing that cities are investing in architecture for these types of utilitarian buildings, and this one is nicely done. The profile of the stainless steel custom panels is beautiful, and I like the way the same panel is shifted and modulated throughout. We see the elegance of a simple and rational construction logic at play.

Patricia Patkau :: This project is fantastic. I like how it invests itself in the landscape (through reflection) and relates to the communities around it. Its site development is interesting as it doesn’t just disregard its neighbours as so many such buildings do. It reminds me strangely of Jorn Utzon’s Bagsvaerd church, in its quiet “industrial” repetitive massing.

David Sisam :: This project is all about the wrap. The brushed stainless steel panels are not inexpensive, and they are skillfully deployed here—a welcome investment in a building type not usually accorded this level of design excellence. From the underground parking, one ascends through a skylit concourse, a generous welcoming gesture for all the
occupants. Also encouraging is the decision to invest in significant planting around the building as a transitional landscape.

CLIENT The City of Edmonton | ENGINEERING/CODE/LEED Morrison Hershfield | LANDSCAPE gh3 | AREA 38,340 m2 | BUDGET $123 M | STATUS Under construction, anticipated completion October 2018