Citizen on Jasper Set to Change Edmonton’s Skyline

ONE Properties’ Citizen on Jasper is set to raise the bar on high amenity living and accessibility in Edmonton

by Paul Adair
Edmonton Construction Association's Breaking Ground Magazine | Summer 2022

The upswing in Alberta’s post-pandemic economy, combined with relative affordability of Edmonton, has led many prognosticators to forecast the population of Alberta’s capital will grow to more than 2 million people over the next few decades.  This is leading to increasing demand for high-quality rental accommodation across the city.

Ideally located at the corner of Jasper Avenue and 120 Street NW - a stone’s throw away from Edmonton’s downtown core - Citizen on Jasper is a mixed-use development that seeks to meet that demand. 

The new 33-storey tower, owned by IG Mackenzie Real Property Fund, will include 344 residential suites (approximately 515 residents) and 8,600 square feet of retail space for a variety of businesses that will face Jasper Avenue for easy street-level access along this busy thoroughfare.  When open for business later this year, the building will feature attractive rental suite designs with market-leading amenities, a hotel-style concierge desk, a high-end gym and fitness centre, outdoor hot tub, yoga/wellness spaces, guest suites, media rooms, a multi-sport simulator, and more.  In addition, the tower has been designed to be completely dog-friendly, and will incorporate a dog spa and exterior dog run, and features a walkout rooftop and a stunning sky lounge overlooking the picturesque Edmonton River Valley.

“We designed the upper floor units to benefit from some of the most spectacular views in the city,” says Thomas Burr, Vice President, Mixed-Use Development – Western Canada at ONE Properties.  “The location is also very pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and is just outside of the central business district - a short walk from the downtown core and all the employment and retail opportunities, and nearby amenities that exist there.  We are confident that Citizen on Jasper will appeal to a broad demographic; from young professionals to empty-nesters.”

The tower will make a striking design contribution to Edmonton’s skyline with its multi-tone panels and a distinctive articulating aesthetic.  The dynamic design incorporates an exterior window wall system with 4-inch, contrasting white banding, which seamlessly wraps around the tower and making the building ‘pop’ with a 3D geometric pattern that draws attention from every view in the city. 

“I'm really pleased with the effect we've delivered,” says Burr.  “We've also bookmarked the building - both at the podium level (L2) and at the very top of the tower (L34) - with dynamic 16-foot backlit, aluminum ‘fin’ panels which have controllable LED lighting that can be changed to suit holidays or relevant events in the city.  So, whether you're up close to the building or viewing from far away, you'll instantly know that you're looking at Citizen on Jasper.”

The project team has looked to preserve the history of the site, and has made a number of design references to the former headquarters for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).  The use of Braille as inspiration has also been built into the overall design and is prominently featured in the façade.

“We all believed that it is important to ensure that Braille is more than just a referential thing,” says Tyler Dixon, Partner at DIALOG, the project architect.  “We want people who are coming into the building to feel as though there is an element of inclusion to go along with functionality, and I think the building’s podium is a good example of this.  The standout sun-shade baffles will integrate lighting, Braille-inspired messaging and privacy screening to draw visitors into the building in a very different way than is done with other buildings in the area, as well as help users and passers-by understand and appreciate the functional intent of various parts of the building through the design expressions.”

Since inception, Citizen on Jasper prioritized ESG objectives and is pursuing LEED Gold certification to demonstrate leadership across many aspects of the project. The construction manager, EllisDon, implemented a strategic material reuse and recycling program to divert 94% of construction waste from landfill. The development also incorporates a rooftop solar array to generate on-site, zero-carbon electricity for the building. By incorporating high performance and high efficiency equipment, this building is anticipated to use 40 per cent less water than conventional projects.

The project also incorporates a network of Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) chargers to support the adoption of electric vehicle ownership; a feature that will scale up as the electrification of transportation continues to evolve. Citizen on Jasper also includes smart building controls, in-suite utility submeters, and improved ventilation to help provide residents and tenants with optimal comfort, control and wellbeing in their residence.  

 “Our research indicates that the tenants and prospective tenants want more opportunities for green living,” says Burr.  “One of the distinctive things that we're doing here is installing garden planter boxes on the rooftop where residents will be able to work out their green thumbs and grow herbs and vegetables for their enjoyment.  We also see this as being an amazing opportunity to build a community within the building and are looking forward to seeing how this develops over time.”

As with any building project over the last two years, working through the pandemic has not been easy, and - from supply chain issues, rising costs, and labour shortages - numerous challenges have created a sense of volatility and uncertainty for contractors, owners, and consultants all to overcome. 

“Through value engineering we were able to source alternate, local products wherever possible and work with the consultants and client to achieve design efficiencies, while also improving overall constructability,” says EllisDon’s Vice President/Edmonton Area Manager, Chris Lane.  “We have been successful thus far by working with our trade partners and client, being proactive in conversations and planning, and being flexible, trusting our key trades partners, and giving them the freedom to execute their scope.” 

While the pandemic has presented significant challenges, the experience has also provided opportunity for the project team to rethink its relationship with the building, and has guided its approach to building design in the ‘new normal’.

“The last few years have really changed our understanding of what being in a building 24/7 really means, and it has required us to re-imagine the project  beyond just being a living space,” says Dixon.  “A building today needs to be your workspace, where you and your family live, and where you hang out with friends.  A building needs to ensure that you feel safe, comfortable, and in control.  And I think that’s just what we’ve accomplished with Citizen on Jasper.”

Preliminary work on the project commenced in 2015 and the site was rezoned in 2016, with work on the detailed design and permits beginning in 2018.  Then, in partnership with IG Mackenzie Real Property Fund, ONE Properties began construction on the project in 2019.  Currently, the schedule is on track for occupancy in August 2022, and ONE Properties will commence the lease-up campaign as well in August.

“The first residents are expected to move into the building in September with a pre registration campaign now underway,” says Burr.  “When those first residents move in, it will really be the manifestation of the vision we had for this project at commencement, and we are excited to see how the community starts to build and hear all the fantastic stories that Citizen on Jasper will be sure create.”

Lane agrees, adding, “The project brings new life to the west end of Edmonton’s downtown on Jasper Avenue and, being one of Edmonton's latest and newest towers in several decades, the features of this building will set the standard for future tower development.  We at EllisDon are proud to have been involved in Edmonton's new generation of residential towers.”