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Changing the name in honour of the Queen
On August 5, 2022, the Government of Alberta was granted permission by Buckingham Palace to change the name of the Edmonton Federal Building to the Queen Elizabeth II Building.
Changing the name was originally intended to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms, and the Commonwealth.
With the passing of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, renaming the building serves as a tribute to the life and historic reign of the Queen by making her name a permanent fixture on Alberta’s Legislature grounds.
- Construction completed: 1958
- Gross floor area: 33,000 sq. m.
- Usable office space: 23,000 sq. m.
- Site area: 1.04 hectares
- Number of floors: 11
Uses over the years
Owned by the Alberta government, the Queen Elizabeth II Building sits in the northeast corner of downtown Edmonton’s provincial government precinct.
The building was constructed by the Government of Canada to host its main federal offices for Edmonton and much of Western Canada. It was first proposed in the 1930s as a much smaller building. However the Great Depression and the Second World War caused a construction delay until 1955. By 1955 government responsibility had grown and the Queen Elizabeth II Building plans doubled in size.
First 30 years
After the war the original art deco plans were expanded and the building completed. The building was used by federal staff from 1958. In 1988, the federal staff moved to the newly-built Canada Place in downtown Edmonton.
A long-awaited renewal
The Alberta government purchased the building in 1983 for $20.5 million to house provincial government offices. The building stood empty for 27 years while the government decided plans for its use. In 2010 it was decided the Queen Elizabeth II Building would house offices for provincial and legislative staff, as well as recreational spaces for the public.
Symbols carved in the building tell a story of Edmonton. The words FEDERAL PUBLIC BUILDING (soon to be Queen Elizabeth II Building) are carved into stone above the east entrance of the building. Above the engraving is a large stone picture of Canada’s Royal Arms. Nearby on the front stones are shields of each of Canada’s 10 provinces. This decoration shows the building was previously the Government of Canada’s Edmonton office for 30 years.
At the northeast corner of the building is the exterior cornerstone. The inscription on the cornerstone reads “This stone was laid by the Honourable George Prudham Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys on the seventh day of May 1955”. Prudham was also Member of Parliament for Edmonton West until 1957.
The dedication plaque in the lobby marks the opening of the building on March 8, 1958, by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
Unique art deco elements
The Queen Elizabeth II Building is one of Alberta’s few art deco buildings. Art deco style uses modern design with strong colour, geometric shapes and industrial imagery. The design on the building’s stone exterior is balanced by the V-shapes (called “chevrons”) carved into the stone.
Fur trade design motifs
The elegant main floor elevator lobby is an example of early art deco design. This includes using different textures and materials, including 6 types of marble, and bright colours as seen in the golden sunburst above the chandelier. If you look closely you will also see details in the nickel-plated doors and trim. These surfaces stand out in contrast with the outside stone surfaces.
Carved in the metal trim are other Canadian symbols such as beavers, Scotch Thistle and the Coat of Arms of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Building stands close to where Fort Edmonton once stood. Fort Edmonton was a trading post built to trade for beaver pelts where many Scots worked.
George Heath MacDonald, architect
Macdonald was Scottish and the architect of the Queen Elizabeth II Building. He spent his free time researching the history of the historic Fort Edmonton. His work helped influence the construction of the 1840s fort later built in the river valley.
2010-2015 renewal project
The building was empty for 20 years. In 2010 the province began construction which was largely completed by the end of November 2014. The first of over 600 government and Legislature staff and MLAs moved into their new offices in February 2015. That summer the plaza now known as Violet King Henry Plaza was completed. The main floor Legislative Assembly Visitor Centre opened on Canada Day 2015. The visitor centre is open year-round and has a gift shop, exhibition spaces and 80-seat theatre.
The east side of the building kept most of its original character. A new 2-story glass pavilion on the west side provides a view of the Legislature grounds and public area between the grounds and building.
The rooftops of the main building, pavilion and service buildings all use green roof technology. The rooftops provide a year-round display of Alberta plants. The green rooftops also provide better air quality, energy conservation and cooling.
Government also constructed a 650-stall underground parkade to replace existing surface parking lots. The surface parking lots were replaced with a plaza that goes from the Legislature grounds north to 99 Avenue. This creates a scenic approach to Capital Boulevard and connection to Edmonton’s downtown.
Other outdoor design highlights include water fountains and green spaces. These have increased public space at the Legislature grounds and provide year-round recreational opportunities for visitors.
The Queen Elizabeth II Building has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating. The work demonstrates the government’s commitment to sustainable buildings.
LEED Gold buildings consume 40 to 50% less energy than conventional buildings and produce lower greenhouse gas emissions. LEED Gold buildings also use 20 to 30% less water than LEED Silver buildings. They also provide a healthier work environment with improved air quality and use of natural light.
Saving an existing building provides many benefits. It saves on replacement materials, which means less energy and resources used for the construction. It also limits the amount of construction waste sent to landfills. As part of the renovation the Queen Elizabeth II Building’s mechanical and electrical systems were upgraded to improve energy efficiency.
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