The Real Time Control Building #3 celebrates the civic potential for the multiple functions of urban water infrastructure through a seamlessly integrated formal expression. The RTC #3 is a state-of-the-art engineered mechanism for monitoring the time-sensitive dynamic loading of urban store and wastewater. In contrast to the typical treatment of municipal infrastructure, often buried and therefore invisible or housed within disguised enclosures, the RTC #3 makes a compelling argument for architecture’s aesthetic function: to contribute to the public awareness of the human effect upon the urban environment and to contribute to an understanding of the ecological complexities of daily experience within the public realm.


The RTC#3 is part of the city of Edmonton’s expanded urban ecosystem strategy and is a vital component in the assessment and reduction of untreated run off and sewage flowing into the North Saskatchewan River. At grade, a 100m2+ drum shaped pavilion clad in angled glass block sits above a six metre in diameter main shaft that houses the below grade the plant equipment, in- and out-take tunnels and the mechanisms for controlling the flow gate operations. A cavity between the glass block façade and the inner steel structure performs as a thermal plenum where air, by the combined means of stack effect and mechanical ventilation, is drawn through louvres located at the base of the façade and vented at the roof edge.


On site, the cylindrical glass pavilion appears as a continuous form extruded from the shaft enclosure beneath the surface. RTC#3 realizes an integrated approach to the design of architectural enclosure, programme, and site strategy: it makes immediately legible the connections between the above and below ground functions, while at the urban level, the RTC#3 signals its component-like function within a complexly networked water infrastructure system. RTC#3 is a working building on a working site where on any day of the week service vehicles can be seen parked on the tarmac surface alongside the building’s removable circular roof. The site’s surface water drains to a gutter surrounding the building’s perimeter where it is then recirculated into the main shaft. The site also houses gas monitoring and ventilation equipment, gate actuators, a generator room, noise control mechanisms, and a motor control centre as well as a washroom and base building mechanical rooms.


photo credit: @mkillings on instagram


Client: City of Edmonton

Location: Edmonton AB

Completion: 2015

Architects and Landscape Architects: gh3

Consultants: Chernenko Engineering (structural), Vital Engineering (mechanical), AB (electrical), BTY (cost)

General Contractor: Maple Reinders



2018 City of Edmonton Urban Design Award
2012 Canadian Architect Award of Merit


gh3 Team: Pat Hanson, Raymond Chow, Byron White, John Mckenna