For Edmonton stargazers, there’s no place like dome. The iconic dome roof on the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium is being lifted into place as part of a major restoration project that lifted off earlier this year.
“The Queen Elizabeth Planetarium is an architectural gem and the first of its kind in Canada,” says Darren Giacobbo, Program Manager with Facility Infrastructure Delivery. “In 1960, the original dome hosted its first show and now here we are today, 59 years later, restoring this historic building for future generations.”
The building, located in the 35-hectare Coronation Park, has not been utilized for more than 20 years. The restoration project, worth $7 million, is intended to honour the heritage and the historical and architectural importance of the original exterior structure, while improving the functionality of its interior. A portion of this budget went to the removal of hazardous materials.
The dome, onto which images of stars, planets and constellations were projected for public entertainment and education, is getting repairs. Also coming is LED lighting and new mechanical equipment that meets building codes and the City’s sustainability standards. A new wheelchair accessible public washroom will be available to both the Planetarium and Coronation Park visitors.
The Coronation District Park Master Plan identifies Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium as an important element in the park, located north of 111 Ave near 142 St. The restored Planetarium is intended to be an important community gathering place and a vibrant cultural hub for science and astronomy.
The restored planetarium is set to reopen to the public in Winter 2020. This rehabilitation project will increase accessibility and public access to a place that enriches Edmonton’s cultural and historical programming, upholding and enhancing the city’s reputation as a cultural hub for science and astronomy.
The Planetarium was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her royal visit to Edmonton in July 1959.
Designed by Walter Telfer and Robert Falconer, Duke of the City Architect’s Office, the building showcased the modern movement’s structural expressionism design style. In 1966, artist Heinrich Eichner placed 12 zodiac signs using mosaic in the cement of the walkway leading to the planetarium. The Planetarium was, until 1970 and the arrival of an arena and swimming pool facilities, the only facility in Coronation Park. The Planetarium was strategically placed in the park landscape to form the image of a Royal Scepter. The walkways of the Scepter lead to and surround the planetarium.
The Planetarium theatre closed its doors to the public in 1983, shortly before the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre (now Telus World of Science) opened its doors in 1984.
To learn more about the project, visit edmonton.ca/queenelizabethIIplanetariumrehabilitation.