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We Are Here

Mia Weinberg // 2009

Paint, etched granite
Muttart Conservatory

Pyramids are a running motif among Edmonton’s most recognizable landmarks. We have architect Peter Hemingway to thank for the original inspiration— in the early 70s he designed the now-demolished Central Pentecostal Tabernacle. Part of which was a large pyramid structure- a precursor to the Muttart Conservatory, which he created later in the decade.

The Muttart Conservatory is a striking addition to our River Valley, and its four pyramids are mirrored in other elements of civic architecture like Gene Dub’s City Hall design. In 2008, the Muttart Conservatory underwent a renovation, which included interior improvements and the addition of a bold front entryway. To mark the entrance, the City of Edmonton wished to have a black granite pyramid to be engraved with an artist’s design placed at the entry to the new plaza.

Vancouver artist Mia Weinberg was commissioned to design the four sides of the pyramid and chose to represent both natural and man-made images, which were sandblasted into the surface of the black granite. Two of the four sides reference the context of the Muttart Conservatory and are engraved with images of plants; one a microscopic view of an aspen leaf and the other a fern frond. The two remaining sides are city maps, the grid-like streets that surround West Edmonton Mall and the more curvy roads of the river valley bisected by the North Saskatchewan River. 

This juxtaposition points out similarities between the vascular system of plants and the macro-view of our streetscapes— they are both skeletons” for the organism/​city, shuttling nutrients/​passengers to where they are needed. The imagery is appropriate, considering Edmonton is known for its extensive park system nestled within heavily urbanized areas.

Muttart Conservatory