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Peter Hemingway

One of the most critically-esteemed architects in Alberta's history, Peter Hemingway was the brilliant mind behind two Massey Award-winning buildings (Edmonton's Coronation Pool and Stanley Engineering Building) for their superior design, as well as one of Edmonton's most iconic structures - the Muttart Conservatory.

Like many figures from Alberta's architectural heritage, Hemingway was not originally from Canada, but was born rather in Minster, England, in 1929. After earning his diploma from a technical college in Kent, Hemingway emigrated to Alberta in 1955 after receiving word that the provincial government was recruiting out-of-country architects for work in the public sphere. The opportunity to affect change in the public realm appealed to Hemingway, in part because of his commitment to architecture as a political as well as a pragmatic endeavour. Often characterized as an exponent of the Late Modern mode, Hemingway believed that architecture has the ability to carry a meaningful message as well as a pleasing design, and his outspokenness on a variety of public issues often raised hairs. In particular, Hemingway is famously quoted as calling Calgary "a series of urban lesions," in response to former-Premier Ralph Klein's dictum to developers to "avoid the trap of putting sunlight ahead of commerce" (Alberta in the 20th Century Vol 11 130).

In 1967, as part of Edmonton's contribution to Canada's centennial celebration, Hemingway began laying out the design for Coronation Pool, an Olympic-sized swimming pool in North West Edmonton. Taking inspiration from Tokyo's National Gymnasium and Pool (designed by Kenzo Tange - a student of world-famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier), the Coronation Pool was a 1.2 million dollar project, featuring a non-traditional and aesthetically-pleasing wave-like design that housed a 2 million litre pool - the biggest in the city at the time. In 1970, the Coronation Pool was awarded the Massey Award for design in architecture, Canada's highest honour in the field. In 2005, the pool was officially renamed the Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre.

In 1976, Edmonton saw the grand opening of the Muttart Conservatory, now one of its most easily recognizable buildings. The conservatory consists of four massive glass pyramids, together accounting for 3700 square metres of climate-controlled botanical gardening space. In typical Hemingway fashion, the construction of the conservatory marked a reinvigoration of the land upon which it was built. Indeed, in the early 1900s, Cloverdale Flats, where the construction took place, was the site of an abattoir, a dog pound, a lumber mill, and an incinerator - making the city's decision to construct the Muttart pyramids in that spot quite an improvement! The pyramids have space for over 700 species of plants, and Hemingway chose their distinct shape both to accommodate the vertical growth of the plants, as well as to give them a non-directional, Late Modern form that is both functional and pleasing.

Hemingway earned a second Massey Award for the Stanley Engineering Building in Edmonton, and continued to contribute significantly to the city's architectural community until his death in May 1995, at the age of 66

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