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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Architectural Styles and Terminology

Knox Presbyterian Church

Alberta's architectural heritage is vast and dynamic incorporating a multitude of architectural styles ranging from the Victorian traditions of historicism and eclecticism to the Modern Movement highlighted by simplicity and functionality.

Beginning with Victorian historicist styles, Alberta is home to various architectural experiments in Art Deco, Art Moderne, Chicago Commercial, among others. In fact, there have been over twenty architectural styles used in the construction of public, commercial and residential buildings across Alberta. It is virtually impossible to grasp Alberta architecture without discussing the relevance of pre-modern architectural movements. Modern design ideas incorporate several key elements found in European and American architectural styles. The idea of internationalism clearly explains Alberta's architectural heritage, chiefly in the diversity of styles present. Alberta's real estate heritage has had to ride the waves of boom and bust, and architecture is certainly not immune to the uncertainty of Alberta's ecnomy in the 20th century.

Beginning in the 1980s, Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism (now Alberta Culture and Community Spirit) produced a series of walking and/or driving tour brochures for various communities throughout Alberta that provide information about historic buildings and places. With the permission of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, the Heritage Community Foundation has drawn on these resources to create the Landmark Buildings and Places database. Moreover, Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism have included definitions on Alberta's architecrutal styles and some of the terminology associated Booklets used to date are as follows:

  • Historical Walking Tours of Downtown, 2004, Centennial edition of the brochure. Planning and Development Department, City of Edmonton, and Alberta Community Development., 2004.

  • District of Oliver: Edmonton Historical Walking and Driving Tour. Edmonton: Alberta Community Development, n.d.

  • Edmonton Walking Tours: Dowtown, East, West, University of Alberta and Strathcona. City of Edmonton and Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism, n.d.

  • Historical Guide to Westmount, Groat Estate and Inglewood, 75th Anniversary Project, Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism and City of Edmonton, n.d.

  • Calgary: Stephen Avenue and Area Historical Walking Tour. Alberta Culture, n.d.

  • Calgary: Atlantic Avenue Inglewood: Historical Walking Tours. Heritage Inventory Program, Alberta Community Development, and the Old Town Calgary Society, 1999.

  • Driving Tour: Inglewood and Mount Royal, Calgary. Alberta Culture, n.d.

  • The Highlands: Edmonton Historical Walking and Driving Tour. Edmonton: Alberta Community Development and The Highlands Historical Foundation, n.d.

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