A moment in history: Oct. 14, 1980

A moment in history: Oct. 14, 1980

· The Pulse
By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1980, Rossdale residents were saying a new space science centre would be "the end" of their neighbourhood.

The city wanted to replace the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium, the first of its kind in Canada, because its 64-person capacity was deemed too small. Although the city originally estimated it would need to expropriate four residences to build the science centre in Rossdale, that estimate later jumped up to 21 homes. That enraged some Rossdale residents, who accused the city of "block busting" and claimed it would be the first step in replacing all of Rossdale's houses with civic buildings.

Whether or not that was the plan, the residents of Rossdale got the city to back down. Instead, the new science centre was built in Coronation Park, right beside the planetarium it was to replace. The building's futuristic design was created by the famed Douglas Cardinal and completed in 1984.

When it opened, the centre boasted a 250-seat dome theatre, the first IMAX theatre in Western Canada, as well as numerous exhibition spaces and other attractions. It soon proved to be a popular destination in the city, drawing in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

A decade after its initial opening, the centre expanded to add more gallery space, a cafe and a new theatre entry. Another $14 million expansion was completed in 2001 when the facility was given a new, harder-to-spell name: The Odyssium. The new name did not last long, however — four years later, it was changed again to the TELUS World of Science due to a partnership between the city and the communications company.

Forty years after it was first built, the science centre hasn't finished changing. It is currently undergoing one of its largest renovations yet. The $41 million Aurora Project, designed by Edmonton architect Donna Claire, will renovate the existing centre, add 20,000 square feet of indoor space as well as outdoor areas showcasing Indigenous science programming.

The Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium is also undergoing extensive changes after being closed for nearly four decades. The "Crown Jewel of Coronation Park" is being renovated and reopened, where it will serve as a public gathering area as well as a programming space for the science centre.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.