ART: Does this look like $350-million worth of museum?

All right, someone has to say publicly what plenty of us are thinking: the proposed design for the Royal Alberta Museum looks like a high school.

Even the distance perspective drawing looks, at best, like the front of a mid-sized city airport.

This? This is what we’re getting for $350-million in taxes? Keep in mind what you can build for that sort of money. Empire Field, the “temporary” stadium housing the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer club, cost $30 Million. The AGA, a magnificent building regardless of whether you debate its social value, cost $85 million.

There are all sorts of relative debates of value with respect to the AGA, but you can’t deny that it makes an architectural statement, one that, when combined with city hall, adds some defining character to our central core most decent cities would envy.

But this building proposal is going to cost taxpayers four times that. Admittedly, the spending comes when most needed: public infrastructure is best built during economic downturns. There are, however, many actual requirements in a province with an infrastructure deficit in the billions, and some of this money could have gone to those issues.

Not only did the province go with a shortlisted tender process, instead of open bidding, it did so in just a couple of months. And this is what we get, as a result.

The comments from the official types bordered on the priceless in a different way. ““This is the right design for our new museum,” said Ray Danyluk, Minister of Infrastructure. “It truly expresses our province’s history, landscapes, and potential. The concept leaves no doubt that the Ledcor team understands Alberta, and Albertans. Like our province, our new museum will represent the best of what the world has to offer, celebrating our past, our present and our future.”

He got that out of this place?

Lindsay Blackett was a little less obviously impressed, noting it would be “highly functional.”

“The true measure of a great museum is what’s inside,” he said, before talking about how it will inspire generations.

Even if we assume the museum becomes a leader in its field, an educational hub for generations of Albertans, a semi-decent reason for people to go downtown, even if it serves all of those purposes….does it have to look like a proposed plan to expand the Jasper Place MacEwan campus?

“This design for our new museum is contemporary and modern with a variety of shapes and textures, along with some familiar and much-loved ’touches’ from the past,” said Marla Daniels, president of the Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society, review panel member and, on this occasion, enormous bullshit artist.

“The exterior design takes advantage of the surrounding urban landscape. It makes a visual impact, addresses the streetscapes and reaches up to our big Alberta sky. It is a gathering place and invites you to come in and explore – from all directions.”

“From all directions?” Yeah, four.

It “addresses the streetscapes,” on 97 Street and 105 Ave? After dark, it better address them politely.

Anyway, the inside is marginally nicer, thanks to some curvy concrete ramp stairs that remind one of the concrete ramps inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, minus the ketchup packets.

A video’s below. $350 million, folks, or enough to get rid of another third of Edmonton’s affordable. Get a good look now, or wait until later….because this is already a done deal.