We Are Edmonton
I often hear people comparing Edmonton to other cities, saying they wish we were more like Calgary, Vancouver, Portland, etc. We are not these cities, we are Edmonton.
This kind of comparative mindset is what prevents innovation and good design from flourishing within our unique city. If we are always looking at other cities and wishing we were built like them, we will lose sight of finding our own identity and a built form that is uniquely ours. I’ll be honest here, I understand where this mindset comes from. I don’t agree with it, by any means, but I do understand how it develops. In many cases, these other cities are ahead of Edmonton’s developmental growth by 10 or 20 years, especially in the densification of their cores. This is where that comparative mindset comes in, but what we need to remember is that with a lagging timeline comes opportunity. Further developed cities such as Vancouver and Calgary have already made costly mistakes and likely learned from them. We as a city can look to them to learn from these mistakes, bring home their best practices and do our own research with pilot communities to find Edmonton based solutions and built forms. This means we have the rare opportunity to bypass the pains of trial and error and get it right the first time, saving our city time, money and headaches.
The desire to push Edmonton in the right direction is one of the reasons RedBrick was created in the first place. We started RedBrick because we wanted to change the way infill development is done in mature neighbourhoods in Edmonton. We didn’t see what we considered to be great infill happening in these neighbourhoods, and we knew our city needed to densify at a much quicker rate than it has to date. So, we decided to become a part of the change our city needs in order to move forward. With the vision of seeing Edmonton reach its full potential, we started RedBrick, found some properties, investors, assembled a few design teams and away we went. Now, don’t get me wrong, the path towards successful change is never an easy one and our experience has proven to be no exception. The thing with innovation is that it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a cultural change that is only made possible through persistence and a desire for change that is stronger than the walls of normality. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve been told, “your expectations are too high,” or “great idea but it’s not likely you can actually build it this year,” and the infamous innovation killer, “well that’s just how it’s always been done.” The key to progression is to stop accepting the status quo, and slowly but surely, I am watching this happen more and more in our city.
I am happy to see associations such as the Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA) bringing more innovational development to the Edmonton area. As for RedBrick, it’s because of our team of out-of-the-box thinkers who believe in this city that we were able to create spaces such as the Riverdale Narrow Lots, 11212 Apartments and Homestead, put a trendy twist on places such as Oodle Noodle (which happens to be Edmonton-based, might I add) and re-store historic buildings such as Alberta Block. We are proud of our accomplishments, but our work towards progression is nowhere near over. Without giving too much away, we have a very exciting project in the works that we believe is the exact kind of forward development our city needs.
I believe in this city, and with some hard work and a desire for change I believe its future will surpass any “comparable” city’s vibrancy, development and livability. We are Edmonton, and I’m proud to say we are nothing like any other city.
That’s all for now, chat again soon.
All the best,
Photo provided by Days Inn