Houses and Content Sale

Ring Houses and East Campus Village Houses

With so many buildings on our campuses, ranging from simple offices to complex research facilities, it's critical that investments are made in support of continued excellence in education and research.

Our Integrated Asset Management Strategy enables the university to be fiscally responsible stewards of public funding and guides investments in our infrastructure.

Purchase a house and its contents

Sale is now closed

Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in purchasing a house and its contents.

Interested in items inside the houses?

Item sale date TBD

Check back for more details. Funds collected will support a one-time Graduate Student Sustainability Research Grant.

Ring Houses

Ring House 2

The Ring Houses are original university buildings and have had a number of uses over the years—initially housing presidents and deans, then Museum and Collections Services and the University of Alberta Press.

The legacy of the Ring Houses will always be a part of the university’s story. Through the Graduate Student Sustainability Research Grant, the Ring Houses will support the university’s academic mission by enabling sustainable research and contributing to student development.

East Campus Village Houses

East Campus Village (11019 & 11023 90 Ave) houses were used for academic programming by Alberta School of Business but were permanently vacated as of July 2020.

These houses no longer meet the academic and research mission of the institution, while bearing continued operating and deferred maintenance costs.


Ring Houses Q&A

Why are the Ring Houses being decommissioned and demolished?

It is important to acknowledge that the Ring Houses were never envisioned to be part of the University of Alberta’s institutional infrastructure. The original campus vision included buildings such as the Old Arts Building and Assiniboia, Athabasca and Pembina Halls, buildings which were designed to be part of the long-term vision for the university. Seven of the eight key buildings in the 1912 block plan remain in active use today.

Due to a shortage of houses in the City of Strathcona, the university constructed a number of residences to house the professoriate. These houses were constructed out of expediency and have been unable to effectively support the university’s mandate since they ceased their role as residences. Their use as functioning space today is extremely limited.

The houses lack sufficient insulation and are a chronic source of maintenance issues. They fail to meet any current codes insofar as accessibility or egress and have accumulated a significant deferred maintenance liability. Unfortunately, the cost of even maintaining the houses has become unsustainable and the investment necessary to bring them up to today’s standards is prohibitive.

Taking down a building is always our last resort. Our primary objective is to maximize the use of our 490 buildings to serve the academic and research mandate of the university. In the event there are no viable ways for a building to serve the needs of the institution, demolition can become the outcome.

The decision to remove the Ring Houses from active service was made in 2019. From that time, all occupants have been relocated to more suitable spaces on North Campus.

Why can’t the Ring Houses be restored?

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, residences of this nature and in this location would not serve the institution’s teaching and research activities. Our priority is to exclusively support buildings that are capable of serving the institution’s teaching and research activities in the decades to come.

Why has the university chosen to remove the Ring Houses now?

The Ring Houses have been in the process of decommissioning for nearly two years due to chronic maintenance issues and the houses’ inability to effectively support the university’s academic and research mission.

Now that all activities in the Ring Houses have been relocated to more suitable spaces on campus, the utilities have been turned off. The integrity of each house will continue to degrade, leading to the necessary removal of the houses.

Can Ring House 1 be kept and optimized for space use?

As is the case with the other houses, Ring House 1 does not offer sufficient space for teaching, learning or research activities. With so many buildings on our campuses, it is critical that investments are made in support of continued excellence in education and research.

There are expectations that government grants and student tuition are used to support the research and learning aspects of the university. Diverting those increasingly scarce resources from more pressing priorities is not an appropriate use of these funds.

How can the university afford to undertake major capital projects like the Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre renewal and not afford to maintain any of the Ring Houses?

Capital projects like the Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre renewal or the construction of more recent buildings on campus such as Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS), Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) and Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering (DICE) all had dedicated funding provided by a multitude of sources such as government or donors.

In all instances, funding is secured for a specific project and cannot be reallocated to other initiatives. In accordance with our Integrated Asset Management Strategy, all projects must first undergo a full assessment of how that project will advance the teaching and research mandate of the university.

If a donor was to step forward in an effort to preserve any one of the Ring Houses as part of the university campus, what size of donation would the university require and what would be the stipulations for use?

The university is not considering accepting donations to preserve the houses as part of the university campus as their lack of functionality prevents their reuse to support core university activities. If a community-based effort were to emerge to retain any of the houses, such an effort would also need to include a plan to remove the house(s) from university property as they do not provide sufficient space for teaching, learning or research activities. The houses have been offered for purchase to the public with the buyer being responsible for costs associated with removal.

For houses that are not removed, items from within each will be available in an online auction with all proceeds donated to a one-time Graduate Student Sustainability Research Grant.

What effort has been made to preserve the history of the Ring Houses?

In 2019, the U of A contacted Fort Edmonton Park to inquire about the potential for at least one of the houses to be offered as a gift from the university. As we understand it, they already have sufficient quantities of inventory depicting this period of Edmonton’s history. In 2020, the Edmonton Historical Society was informed. In an effort to support any public interest, the opportunity to purchase and move these houses was offered in early 2021.

The university recognizes the Ring Houses represent a period of the university's history and we are taking all reasonable measures to preserve what we can. Items, plans, 3D imagery and photographic records from the houses will be maintained as part of a U of A Museums collection and the houses and their occupants will continue to be celebrated by ongoing storytelling efforts.

The University of Alberta remains committed to retaining buildings from its past and continues to evaluate where the highest and more viable needs are to do so. The investments into Emily Murphy House; North Power Plant; Dentistry Pharmacy Centre; and Assiniboia, Athabasca, Pembina, and Triffo Halls are examples of where a building can serve the dual purpose of serving us today and connecting us with our past.

What public consultation occurred prior to the decision to decommission and demolish 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 Integrated Asset Management Strategy (IAMS) guides all decision making 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 have been held, the most recent taking place in February 2021, which included updates on how the IAMS strategy is being applied on campus. Members of our community in buildings near the Ring Houses were also informed.

Rigorous planning and consistent assessment of our infrastructure is a key component of IAMS, and this decision was not made lightly or without deep consideration of alternatives. Unfortunately, delaying this decision will result in further, unsustainable losses to the university.

Can I go inside the Ring Houses to see what they were like?

Unfortunately no. The houses have been decommissioned and have been without heat for months. We are not actively monitoring the houses and cannot guarantee the safety of anyone entering.

In the decades since they were last used as residences, the Ring Houses have been modified several times including the addition of contemporary elements. At present, they bear little resemblance to their original design.

How will the university commemorate the Ring Houses?

University of Alberta Museums will preserve art and artifacts and usable furniture will be redeployed on campus. Further commemoration is being planned in the design of the Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre, which is currently under renewal.

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.

The Office of the University Architect 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 demolition nears completion. Some shrubs and bushes may be disturbed, but the majority of mature trees are not expected to be impacted. If any trees are removed, new saplings will be planted on campus.


Questions

If you have any questions, please email focomms@ualberta.ca