Academic journal article Alberta History

Unbuilt Calgary

Academic journal article Alberta History

Unbuilt Calgary

Article excerpt

Unbuilt Calgary by Stephanie White. Toronto: Dundurn Press. 232 pp., profusely illus, maps, $28.99.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

From the beginning, Calgary has been a town of booms and busts. During the good years, many ambitious schemes were promoted, but came a downturn and they were scrapped and forgotten. In fact, the author comments on "how easily unbuilt projects were discarded." (p.9) As a result, the author sometimes had difficulty in finding plans, sketches, or diagrams of abandoned projects.

One of the most famous unbuilt projects was the Mawson plan of 1912. Based upon designs of Chicago's Columbia Exposition of 1893, the plan was a gorgeous spectacle of neo-classical buildings, monuments, and public spaces. It died with the onset of World War I.

The development of CPR land has seen a number of plans, including one by R. Dowling of New York in 1962 that had "a whizzy, spaceship sort of figure to mark the location of the new station." (p.25) The plans were opposed by Calgary architect Gordon Atkins who said the "conglomeration of buildings is multi-directional, multi-functional, and so lacking in any statement of function or clear-cut unified expression that they become cartoonish and obvious. …

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