Ring Houses Update

The university is pleased that the next chapter for the Ring Houses is proceeding with a view to their past while also looking forward with community experience in mind.

In 2021, with the aim of preservation and community experience in mind, Primavera Development Group purchased all four buildings, plus two decommissioned houses from East Campus Village. In August 2022, Primavera announced the acquisition of a development site in the central Edmonton community of McCauley that will include components of these houses.

We anticipate the houses will be moved from the U of A’s North Campus in Fall 2022. After the houses are removed, the northwest corner of North Campus will be returned to green space while the university considers any future development.

We extend our thanks to all those who showed interest in the next chapter of the Ring Houses.

Background

U of A campuses are an ever-changing landscape. Given their size and purpose-built design as single family homes, the Ring Houses do not provide adequate space for modern teaching, research or work activities. In February 2021, the university shared that the houses would be decommissioned and made available for purchase and relocation. On September 22, 2021, the Primavera Development Group announced they would be relocating the houses to fulfill a new community-minded vision.

Common Questions

How much were the houses sold for?

The houses themselves were sold for $1 each. The costs of removal and relocation are the responsibility of the new owner.

When will the houses be moved?

The houses are scheduled to be removed in Fall 2022.

What are the future plans for the land?

Once the site has been cleared, it will be converted into a green space. No further plans have been made for the site at this time.

Campus Planning engages with groups on campus to develop interim-use plans when possible that benefit the community. Any permanent development plans are guided by the university’s Long Range Development Plan and supporting sector plans.

A landscape plan will be developed as the removal nears completion.

How will the university commemorate the houses and their history?

The stories of the Ring Houses will always be part of the University of Alberta’s story. More information about plans for commemorating the Ring Houses will be available in 2022.

Why didn’t the U of A restore the houses?

The Ring Houses were built as single family homes in the early 1900s and served that purpose well for many years. When they were no longer required for residential purposes, the university tried to find other uses ranging from offices to event space to even a daycare. However, these actions were met with limited success.

To restore the houses to their original state would mean returning them to residential use. However, given their size and purpose-built design, the Ring Houses do not provide adequate space for modern teaching, research or work activities.

What public consultation occurred prior to the decision to decommission the Ring Houses?

While we are happy to engage the broader community on aspects such as land use, decisions about buildings are made exclusively by the university. As unanimously approved by the Board of Governors in June 2019, the U of A’s Integrated Asset Management Strategy (IAMS) guides all decision making by the university in this regard.

As decisions related to the Ring Houses were made, members of the university community were informed through updates to the Board of Governors, the General Faculties Council, President’s Executive Committees and the Deans’ Council. Multiple community town halls were held, and members of the surrounding communities were also informed.

The decision to decommission or sell any of the university’s buildings or property is never easy. We always look at all viable options, and choose the option that best meets the needs of the university in supporting its core mission or teaching, learning and research.

Will any trees be affected by the construction work being done?

Trees on our campuses are highly valued and are only removed as a last resort when all other preservation options are unsuitable or the tree itself is no longer healthy. University trees are assessed for removal or trimming if they have been deemed unhealthy, are in poor condition or pose a safety risk.

Following an external certified arborist’s assessment, four mature trees recently required removal near the Ring Houses due to their health. The university will be planting two young trees of a similar type for each tree that was removed as part of our landscape plan. Those trees will be planted and nurtured this fall. Additionally, Primavera Development Group has indicated that wood from the trees will be kept for repurposing as part of their arts and community hub.