Prairie Design Awards celebrate Edmonton library, garage, park, and arts space architecture

The judges have spoken. And they quite like what’s taking shape in Edmonton. 

Four Edmonton buildings have won 2022 Prairie Design Awards. The Award of Excellence went to Edmonton Public Libary’s Capilano branch. Awards of Merit went to the Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, the Paul Kane Park Redevelopment and CO*LAB. 

“We’re definitely walking the walk when it comes to design excellence,” City Architect Carol Belanger said. “We’re so proud of how Edmonton was represented.” 

Capilano Library

The Capilano Library opened in November 2018 to serve residents of the neighbourhoods of Capilano, Gold Bar, Fulton Place and beyond in east Edmonton. 

Belanger said a conscious decision was made to deliver a piece of built beauty to library patrons, workers and residents—a deliberate move to imbed itself in the neighborhood, enhancing the walkable community. 

“Capilano Library really punches over its weight when it comes to design,” Belanger said. “It’s a smaller library, but has received international attention when it landed on the cover of an Italian design magazine.”

Caroline Land manages the Capilano Library. She leaves no doubt how she feels about the place. 

“I do love the building,” she said. 

Land described how library employees and guests are treated to “an ever-changing artwork of natural light” courtesy of the building’s signature skylight and window wall onto Fulton Ravine. She said the Capilano Library’s open, inviting architecture underlines its modern mission.

“This building is a wonderful gathering place for people,” she said. “You don’t need to spend any money or buy anything when you come inside. It is a public space where people can be, freely.” 

“There isn’t a season where this library doesn’t have a window on the beauty of this place,” said Capilano Library Manager Caroline Land.

Ken Schwanke lives in Gold Bar. The Capilano Library is his neighbourhood branch.

“The way that it’s built on the edge of the ravine is just so natural. It looks like it’s part of the landscape and part of a long-term master plan,” said Schwanke. “It has great lines. Plus, it has charging stations for your EV.” 

The Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage is located at 12403 Fort Road in Edmonton’s northeast.

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage 

The transit garage, home to a fleet of approximately  300 Edmonton Transit buses, stands on Fort Road in northeast Edmonton. It was opened February 2020 and features a massive art installation called 53°30’N, which was commissioned by the Edmonton Arts Council through the Percent for Art Program. 

Each of the stainless steel installations represents the shape and features of mountain faces of areas around the world at the same latitude as Edmonton.

“This garage is unlike any other transit garage. It is simply amazing,” Belanger said. “Most transit garages are satisfied with just being functional, this one is elevated above the need to store buses. It pays attention to the details.”

The Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage is LEED Silver certified garage.

Shawn Wall is an Edmonton Transit Operations Manager who works at the Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage. Wall appreciates how the building serves as an environmentally smart home for the bus fleet for northeast Edmonton, and as home base for the variety of workers who keep the service running.

Wall loves how the building shines.

“If you’re travelling west to east as the sun is setting around this time of a year, the whole place just glistens,” he said. “It is magnificent.”

And, he also loves how it illuminates Edmonton’s transit history. Kathleen Andrews was Edmonton Transit’s first female operator

Find Paul Kane Park near 103 Avenue and 121 Street.

Paul Kane Park 

Paul Kane Park sits on a square of land surrounded by apartments in Edmonton’s high density Oliver neighborhood. 

“This park is so well used, so beloved,” Belanger said. “All through the beginning of the pandemic, people were using it to safely gather all day and all night.”

Paul Kane Park in its autumn palette, October 6, 2022.

Louis Baillargeon works nearby on 124 Street and regularly takes a walk around the park on his lunch hour as a getaway from the office.

“I think the park is beautiful in its natural layout,” said Baillargeon. “What makes it successful is that it’s so well used. There’s kids, there’s elderly people, there’s residents from nearby and people from office buildings like me. These are the right kinds of spaces and they are coveted. This is the quality people need to feel healthy.”

CO*LAB stands proudly at 9641 102A Avenue in the Boyle Street neighbourhood.


CO*LAB describes itself as in service to its neighbours: “Community {Arts} Laboratory (CO*LAB) is a grassroots, arts-centered community venue with a focus to cultivate and sustain exposure to the arts for those living within Edmonton’s central communities, including Boyle Street, McCauley, Central McDougall, Cromdale, Chinatown, and Queen Mary Park.”

“I think the jury was so impressed with how we were able to take a building and reinvent it with mainly just paint,” Belanger said. “There were very few architectural changes.”

Lorin Klask is the Artistic Director at CO*LAB. Klask said new garage doors and lighting were added to act as beacons. The doors, located in the front and back of the building, are often opened during events. 

“For our GLOW Festival, we did the lantern parade through the streets and then came back here,” said Klask. “We had the garage doors open and firepits in the backyard and people were just freely moving in and out of the building. And that’s exactly what we want—people to feel welcome.

“Everything [in this area] is highrises or walk-ups, there are not a lot of houses. It’s so hard to meet your neighbours. That’s why we built this place. We want to serve the community at a street level, at a neighborhood level. We want to serve all of our neighbors, and we want it to be intergenerational and multicultural.” 

Buildings are for people

The Prairie Design Awards are the combined work of The Alberta Association of Architects, The Saskatchewan Association of Architects and The Manitoba Association of Architects. 

Belanger was in Winnipeg when the winners were announced. The awards themselves are important, he said, but nothing compares to the way the buildings better the lives of Edmontonians. 

“These projects are about the best value for our citizens,” Belanger said. “You want to get the best return on the value of your dollar. 

“It’s sort of like one dollar plus one dollar equals three dollars when we’re designing these buildings. We do a little bit of magic to get that return.”

Editor’s notes: the pic at the top of the post shows Edmonton Public Library’s award-winning Capilano Branch, at 9915 67 Street, on October 6, 2022. Dig into the list of 2022 Prairie Design Awards winners to learn more about the teams of architects, designers, engineers, consultants and contractors who imagine, design and build beauty for people to enjoy. Projects can be considered for awards up to five years after completion.