Fresh as a daisy: Muttart Conservatory reopens after 18 month rehabilitation

Welcome back to the pyramids.

In July 2019, the iconic facility closed for an 18 month rehabilitation. Then the global pandemic struck.

On June 11, the Muttart grows back to the future.

“We are excited to welcome Edmontonians back to the pyramids,” said Rhonda Norman, Director of River Valley and Horticultural Facilities. “We’ve been working so hard to get everything ready to reopen. We know people have missed visiting the Muttart and we can’t wait to open our doors again.” 

Looking, and booking, ahead 

Here’s a quick video that lays out what you need to know for your next visit. 

Looking back 

Visitors might not notice a big difference in what they see. But, behind the scenes, there was a lot of work done to breathe new life into the facility’s heating and mechanical systems—while protecting the beloved plants. (Spoiler: the PDDM helped!)

Take a look, dig in.

Over a metre deep of excavated material was removed from inside the Feature Pyramid in early February 2020 after the piping for the perimeter heating system was installed.

February 2020.

The pyramid’s structural steel needed a new coat of marine enamel paint. Challenge: a typical lift could not fit through the main entrance, meaning no access to the apex of the pyramids. Solution: a spider lift with a smaller footprint was brought in to do the job.

January 2020.

Aerial painters were also needed to complete the areas that the spider lift could not reach.

January 2020.

Plant production in the greenhouse carried on throughout the rehabilitation. The construction crew and the Muttart growers worked closely to make sure the plants were looked after.

The City’s Project Development and Delivery Model was used in the Muttart rehabilitation. And helped protect the plants. Read on!

The temperate water feature was transformed and a new bridge installed.  

February 2020.

The existing courtyard slab was replaced. That meant approximately 460 cubic metres of earth was removed and replaced with a clay-gravel combination that was sloped and packed onto which concrete was placed. The courtyard was back.

June 16, 2020.

“Nothing like it”

The Muttart can now get back to being a living landmark in Edmonton. 

“There’s really nothing else like it in Edmonton,”  said Adam Laughlin,  Deputy City Manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services. “The Idea was to maintain our jewel and return it back to public service in as good or better shape than when built in 1976.” 

For 45 years and across the generations, the Muttart Conservatory has been a place with meaning for Edmontonians. A welcome winter reprieve. A mid-week vacation. A great dining experience daytime, evenings and weekends at Culina To Go Muttart. And the perfect place to learn about plants. 

View from above of the Muttart Conservatory on May 29, 2021. Also visible in the upper left is the Valley Line West guideway near the future Muttart Stop.

On time, on budget, on purpose

Like the majority of City projects, the Muttart was completed on time and on budget, even though the particular challenges of the work included pandemic supply chain disruptions. 

PDDM helped. 

PDDM keywords: Plan. Do. Check. Approve.

PDDM is the City’s Project Development and Delivery Model. It mapped out and planned the work for over a year and half before rehabilitation started. It helped think through logistics, including when best to transfer electrical and heating systems during shoulder seasons to protect the plants.

“There were back-ups on back-ups for this project and lots of contingency planning,” said Laughlin.  “We hired the contractor early and the team focused on the review and design process to make sure we had the planning and timing just right.”

A key question at the start of the project was this: would it be better to close the entire facility for the rehabilitation work, or schedule a series of shorter closures? The City picked door number 1. That means any future closures will now be only for regular maintenance.

Reminder: how to visit

Purchase your time-entry ticket online in advance at movelearnplay.edmonton.ca  

Be safe, and keep other Muttart lovers safe, too. Follow all public health orders and guidelines. 🌱

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows the newly rehabilitated Muttart Conservatory on May 29, 2021. Building Edmonton helps you to keep track of City capital construction projects.