Work on revamped pools at Alberta legislature grounds begins this spring

An architect's rendering of one of the possible designs for a new fountain outside the Alberta legislature. (Government of Alberta - image credit)
An architect's rendering of one of the possible designs for a new fountain outside the Alberta legislature. (Government of Alberta - image credit)

Albertans now have their first peek at choices for revamped fountains in front of the Alberta legislature.

Work will begin this spring on a $20-million overhaul of the popular plaza north of the legislature building.

The province wants public input on three possible designs for a new wading pool to replace the existing, crumbling feature.

"We want it to be bright, colourful and welcoming for people of all ages and abilities and backgrounds," Infrastructure Minister Nathan Neudorf said in an interview Thursday. "We just want it to be a very inviting space."

The government hired Toronto-based GEC Architecture as a prime consultant and Janet Rosenberg Studio as the landscape architect to design three choices.

It's the same team that designed a new wading pool that doubles as a skating rink in front of Edmonton's city hall.

While workers refurbish the existing reflecting pool and ornamental dome fountain, the government is replacing the terraced wading pool at the north end of the plaza.

Government of Alberta
Government of Alberta

The first concept shows fountains interspersed with large, colourful blocks and swirling gold curved piping above the concrete.

Submitted by the Government of Alberta
Submitted by the Government of Alberta

Another concept mixes small, irregularly shaped pools with multicolour spires spurting water.

Submitted by the government of Alberta
Submitted by the government of Alberta

A third idea shows a river-shaped pool creeping through grass with waterfalls tumbling from rocks.

All of the options feature bright and bold blocks of colour in a plaza that is currently beige and muted.

Neudorf said the design may have been inspired by the multicoloured holiday lights that now adorn trees throughout the grounds.

"It was a very stale kind of palate before that," he said.

Neudorf said he prefers the second option because it looks the most welcoming and practical.

Trouble with the fountains dates back to at least 2016. Leaks from the fountains and pipes have led to water seeping into underground pedestrian walkways.

Workers will also replace walkways and concrete decks around the fountains, as well as upgrade mechanical and water filtration systems to meet current building codes and health standards. The pools were constructed in the 1970s.

The province shut down the pools in 2020 when they decided they were no longer safe to operate and the COVID-19 pandemic prevented public gatherings.

Officials have launched an online survey asking citizens for feedback on the three concepts, what features they favour, and querying what feelings they want the plaza to inspire. The survey is open until Jan. 27.

Neudorf said construction should be complete by 2024. Whether any children will get a chance to splash through the new fountains that summer depends on the whether the weather co-operates for construction, Neudorf said.