Architectural Styles

Learn about the many different architectural styles found in Edmonton!

Edmonton’s landscape is composed of many different architectural styles. Buildings were constructed based on available materials and technology, local skill, current fashion, and budget. The combination of these factors resulted in the creation of some wonderful buildings in Edmonton. As time passed and these factors changed, so too did the resulting structures.

This section explores the various architectural styles as they appear in Edmonton. Some are very basic, while others are very ornate. If you look closely at Edmonton’s buildings you will discover that there are few “pure” examples of architectural styles here. It is much more common to find influences of one or more styles within a particular building. This is especially true for houses and modest commercial structures.

Because Euro-Canadian building traditions did not begin in Edmonton until the 1870s many styles common in other parts of Canada are not seen here. However, Edmonton still boasts a wide variety of architectural styles, as well as at least one unique building tradition.

Art Deco influences

Art Deco influenced buildings are not common in Edmonton, through there are some noteworthy examples.

Arts and Crafts

The Arts and Crafts style valued natural materials and truth in form. It was typically very ornate and employed a lot of details.

Beaux Arts

Elegant Beaux Arts buildings were constructed between 1885 and 1930 especially by those wanting to portray an image of prosperity.

Brutalist

Brutalist architecture is characterized by concrete and a lack of detail. Regardless of your view on its aesthetics, it is certainly easy to identify.

Byzantine

Byzantine architecture is an important reminder of the Eastern European settlers who arrived in Edmonton beginning in the 1890s.

Chicago

A school of architecture grew out of Chicago in the early 1900s and made its presence known across North America, including a few examples in Edmonton.

Classical Revival

Classical Revival architecture is a romantic style that makes use of elements found in Greek and Roman buildings from antiquity. 

Clinker

Clinker bricks were valued for their unique appearance and used extensively in Edmonton, unlike most other places where they were considered garbage.

Collegiate Gothic

Collegiate Gothic architecture is associated with education, and is often found on university campuses, including the University of Alberta.

Craftsman

The Craftsman style was similar to Arts and Crafts but less detailed. The value of natural materials and truth in form are still very evident.

Edwardian

The Edwardian style was popular in Edmonton in the first decades of the 20th century and was most commonly seen in commercial buildings.

Flatiron

The iconic Flat Iron style is easily identifiable by its triangular footprint a flat roof.

Foursquare

Foursquare homes were very popular in Edmonton in the 1910s. There are many surviving examples that provide wonderful character to some of the city’s older neighbourhoods.

Gothic Revival

The Gothic Revival style in Edmonton is most commonly seen in churches, such as St. Joachim’s or Robertson-Wesley.

International

The International style was popular in Edmonton in the 1950s, and is most easily identified by its smooth surfaces, flat roof and lack of detail.

Log

Log

Log buildings were among the first constructed in the Edmonton area. Although seemingly rudimentary, they required considerable skill to build well.

Modern

Edmonton has a rich and varied Modern architectural legacy, with many subsets and some world class examples.

Moderne

Moderne architecture was popular in Edmonton in the 1930s and 1940s and was an adaptation of the Art Deco style.

Prairie

Edmonton has only a few examples of Prairie style homes, identified by their low roofs, banks of windows and horizontal emphasis.

Queen Anne

The Queen Anne style was popular in the late 1890s and early 1900s, but not many examples have survived in Edmonton.

Scottish Baronial

The Scottish Baronial style can be seen in some of Edmonton’s most iconic structures, such as the Hotel Macdonald or the Provincial Legislature.

Second Empire

Inspired by traditions coming out of the French Renaissance, Second Empire buildings are lavish and complex, and always feature a distinctive Mansard roof.

Spanish Revival

The Spanish Revival style served to romanticize not only theatres and commercial structures, but residential buildings as well.

Tudor Revival

Tudor Revival architecture was popular in Edmonton in the 1930s, and can evoke responses for its storybook qualities. 

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