Precision work and overcoming weather-related challenges were recognized in recent Alberta Masonry Council (AMC) awards for the Princess Patricia Military Memorial and Aga Khan Garden.
As the AMC awards its design awards every four years, the organization’s most recent awards were presented in 2019. Two of the winners are the Canadian Light Infantry Association (PPCLI) memorial to Griesbach Princess Patricia (for artistic use of masonry) and the Aga Khan Garden at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden (award).
The Griesbach monument (“Grease-bah”) uses granite in various ways.
It has granite radius pieces for the stairs that lead to the memorial, granite paving on top of the stairs surrounding the memorial, and rounded granite siding and coverings to the memorial.
The memorial also has 22 granite pedestals on which brass honorary brass bands can be placed, as well as two granite walls with brass plaques for each campaign the PPCLI fought in and the names of the soldiers killed in action listed on the plaques.
Above the memorial is a domed brass cap with the PPCLI logo.
The main central circular component of the monument recreates that in Frezenburg, France, which marks Canada’s participation in the second Battle of Ypres in World War I.
The memorial was designed for the Canada Lands Group by the Edmonton office of IBI Group Inc.
It is located on a 1 km² urban settlement on a former military base at the north end of Edmonton.
“It was a complicated job because it’s a small-radius memorial,” said IBI Director Mark Nolan. “A high degree of precision was required to install the granite.”
The total amount of granite used on the project was approximately 316 cubic feet, or 57,000 pounds, says Jaret Jahner, project manager for Scorpio Masonry (Northern) Inc., the masonry and general contractor.
The project had a challenging schedule.
“We only started at the beginning of September and the project had to be completed by Remembrance Day (November 11th),” said Jahner. “And as we worked on it, winter was getting closer.
“The crew worked longer hours and on weekends. We’re done just in time. Winter came early and it was a very cold day of remembrance. “
The Aga Khan Garden in Spruce Grove, AB, is a contemporary take on the landscape traditions of Mughal India, adapted to the plants, climate and culture of Alberta.
The garden uses extensively Canadian masonry to frame the garden beds, walks, and patios.
In addition to the extensive paving stones and walls, there are numerous garden elements, fountains and stone elements.
The garden contains granite from Quebec and limestone from Ontario and Portugal.
The job had some logistical and weather-related challenges, says Jaret Jahner of Scorpio Masonry, who, like the PPCLI memorial, was the contractor for this project.
“It was in a remote location 25 minutes outside of Edmonton city limits with no overnight winter heater watch,” he said. “We had a tough winter with strong winds and occasional heavy snowfall.”
Jahner says that winter is not the “ideal season” for flat work (paving stones on a flat surface).
“To be efficient, we need large areas with long site lines to ensure that everything is properly aligned and connected with each other without deviations,” he said. “With this type of flat pavement, the untrained eye can easily identify and determine errors or defects.”
The organization that awarded the design awards, the AMC, is a not-for-profit association founded in 2011 by the suppliers and installers of the Masonry Contractors Association in Alberta to promote the use of masonry in the province.
The masonry played an important role in the architectural history of Alberta
AMC Director of Marketing and Communications Nicholle Miller.
“Most of the original Alberta settlements were built with bricks that came from the Medicine Hat brick factory,” she said. “Almost every settlement along the railway line has inner cities made of bricks.”
In addition, Calgary’s oldest building stock is clad in local sandstone.
“The limestone cladding came from a fire that broke out in 1886 and burned 18 buildings in downtown,” Miller said. “Thereupon the city passed an ordinance, according to which the inner city only has to be built with non-combustible structures.”
Today, locally produced concrete bricks and paving stones are becoming increasingly popular.
“Paving stones help manage rainwater and are even required in some communities in Canada,” she said.
There are also hemp block manufacturers popping up in Alberta.
“While not in the structural phase yet, they are optimistic that the technology will be rolled out in Alberta and will soon be used for siding and structural purposes,” Miller said.
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