University Commons

University of Alberta


University of Alberta


Edmonton, Alberta


Janet Rosenberg & Studio (Landscape Architect)
GEC Architecture (Architect)
ERA Architects Inc. (Heritage Architect)


Completed 2022


2023 Edmonton Urban Design Awards, Heritage Projects Award of Merit

Photography: Crystal Puim Photography

Originally constructed in 1922, the Dentistry Pharmacy Building is a well-known, highly visible, historic building in the heart of the University of Alberta Campus in Edmonton. GEC Architects led a LEED Gold rehabilitation, renovation and redevelopment of the facility now called University Commons, integrating specialized learning environments, event spaces, offices, and technology.

The landscape design by JRS introduced a new and cohesive public realm strategy for the facility and established seamless and accessible pedestrian connections to the facility and the broader campus landscape. A new paving strategy, using multi-colour clay pavers in heritage hues, installed in a traditional herringbone pattern, adds strong visual impact and is suitable for the high volume of pedestrian traffic and occasional maintenance vehicles. New plantings, including a mix of native, drought and salt-tolerant species, were designed around existing mature trees. There was a strong desire to maintain the character of the mature tree canopy and generally to increase the overall tree canopy for aesthetics and pedestrian comfort. Along the east side of the building, an allée of Basswood trees were planted in structural soil which will grow over time into a connected canopy along this north-south pedestrian corridor and plaza.

JRS also worked in close collaboration with the GEC and the Heritage Architect ERA regarding the restoration of existing natural stone steps and new oiled brass/bronze handrails for the formal entrance to the heritage building.

The project celebrates the past, present and future, activating the campus through a connected and engaging public realm landscape.

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