Meier Partners conceived of this new museum proposal as an open and inviting place for visitors. The outward appearance of the building is intended to be expressive of its functional components, while its lightness, transparency, and white color are suggestive of freshly fallen snow, respecting the fact that Edmonton is a winter city.
The museum is designed as a series of functional bands running east-west, with administrative functions to the north, a continuous service spine in the middle, and large exhibition areas to the south. This elegant composition is in turn enclosed by a unifying atrium and a system of ramps which connect all floors. The upper exhibition floors form spaces with flexible open plans—accommodating a wide variety of exhibition layouts—while on the lower floors smaller and more articulated spaces such as the Manitou Stone Gallery and the Auditorium offered a dialog with the public spaces both within and outside of the museum.
The museum’s massing sensitively responds to both the surrounding large-scale structures and to the more intimate scale of the streetscape. The focal point of this dialogue is a generous plaza to the west of the museum, intended to act as an urban crossroads and provide a welcoming living room for the city.