The Edmonton funicular has won a national award for its ability to connect the downtown core to the city’s river valley.
Edmonton’s Mechanized River Valley Access, also known as the 100 Street funicular, was recently awarded a National Urban Design Award of Excellence in civic design.
The inclined elevator takes visitors from 100 Street by the Hotel Macdonald to the area around the Low Level Bridge. A staircase runs alongside the funicular, which leads to a promenade before opening out to a pedestrian bridge over Grierson Hill with a lookout over the North Saskatchewan River.
The biannual awards are handed out by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and the Canadian Institute of Planners.
Edmonton’s funicular, designed by DIALOG, was one of 12 projects honoured this time around, and one of six that received awards of excellence.
The design of the funicular was recognized because it helps connect downtown with the river valley, creating an urban space for people to connect with nature.
“A beautifully-conceived ensemble of built structures, open spaces, and public art that successfully connects Edmonton’s downtown to the river valley,” read a statement from the National Urban Design Awards jury.
“The juxtaposition of landscape attributes — in particular, its topographical and visual qualities — and the architectural details and materiality of the downtown milieu are compelling.”
The funicular opened to the public in December 2017. The project cost $24 million and received funding from all three levels of government as well as the River Valley Alliance.
As of Nov. 25, 2018, the city said the funicular had made 114,038 trips up or down the track. About 22 per cent of funicular users ride it as part of their commute to work, a city report found in November 2018.
While a success in many ways, the funicular has also seen its share of challenges. In its first year open to the public, the funicular experienced 116 system failures and 322 emergency stops. There were 112 instances of door, wind or overload issues and 15 elevator emergencies. The site experienced one emergency over its first 12 months.
According to a review, over 57 per cent of alarms were a result of funicular users pressing the emergency stop button.
The award will be presented to DIALOG at a ceremony in June, according to the firm. DIALOG provided architectural, landscape architectural and engineering design services for the project.