Banff Park Pavilion

Alberta’s only Frank Lloyd Wright building to be rebuilt

Architecture International Preservation
(Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative)
(Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative)

Thanks to the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative, Banff National Park in Alberta may once again have its own Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building almost 100 years after the original structure was demolished.

The Banff Park Pavilion was originally built in 1914 on commission from the Canadian government and designed in conjunction with Francis Conroy Sullivan (Wright’s only Canadian student). It only stood for 25 years but was demolished in 1939 due to structural damage.

The pavilion went through several stages of use in its brief life. It was initially conceived as a visitor center by the Department of Public Works by the National Parks Service, with the local community putting forth ideas about its design. However, given the timing of its completion at the start of World War I, it was repurposed by the Department of Defense into a quartermaster’s store.

(Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative)

(Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative)

After the war the pavilion was used for its original intended purpose: a picnic area and shelter. However, its location on the bank of the Bow River was prone to flooding and frost heaving, which damaged wooden floor supports. It was torn down in 1939 despite the resistance of park-goers.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative is dedicated to rebuilding Frank Lloyd Wright structures on their original footprints according to their original design, allowing for changes only due to modern building code requirements. The Banff Park Pavilion will be their first project.

The building is a great example of Wright’s signature Prairie School architectural style, common in the American midwest but rare in Canada. According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Initiative, it was in fact the only building of this style in the country. It will also be the second Frank Lloyd Wright building in Canada.

The number of yearly visitors to Banff National Park has grown to almost 3.6 million annually, and the pavilion has the potential to once again become a well used feature of the park as well as a tourist attraction in its own right.

According to Canadian Architect, the proposal was accepted by the Banff Town Council, who is now conducting a feasibility study as Phase I of the project. The Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative is accepting donations that will go toward funding the project.

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