Grotsky-Schuurmans Residence


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The Grotski-Schuurmans Residence is one-storey single family residence in the Capilano Neighbourhood of East Edmonton. The house occupies a special riverside lot with a commanding view of the North Saskatchewan River and the neighbourhood of the Highlands across the river. It was designed as a renovation and addition to an existing house in 1977 and constructed the following year by the notable Alberta architect, Douglas Cardinal. Douglas Cardinal is a proponent of curvilinear, nature-based influence in architectural design. The Grotski Residence is one of Cardinal’s rare single-family residences and an important component in his evolution of a unique design language. This residence contains references to his trademark curvilinear design as well the West Coast Post and Beam Style that was prevalent at the time.

The Grotski-Schuurmans Residence is significant for its association with the theme of urban development in post-war Edmonton. The Capilano neighbourhood is one of the new communities in post-war Edmonton to accommodate a greatly expanding population. This neighbourhood is one of only a few that has direct river valley access and was an ideal location for Douglas Cardinal to experiment with his nature-based design aesthetic.

This residence is also associated with lawyer John Grotski, who was a prominent member of the legal community during his work life, which extended from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. In addition to his legal career, he was an important Edmonton developer having been instrumental in the construction of Chancery Hall and Century Place office towers. In addition to his legal work, Grotski served numerous community roles including president of the community league, a lifelong Lions Club member which included a stint as president, Knights of Columbus member and Little League baseball umpire, often returning to the office in the evening.

The Grotski Residence is primarily associated with the career of internationally recognized Alberta architect Douglas Cardinal, who did not design many single-family residences. Some of the design characteristics of the residence are unique to this architect and there is great consistency in the evolution of Cardinal’s work. The residence was designed after Grande Prairie College (his first trademark curvilinear design after St. Mary’s Church in Red Deer) and before the 1981 St. Albert Place. The roots of this particular design can be found in the West Coast Post and Beam Style, but the execution displays Cardinal’s curiosity to explore his unique stylistic inventions that include a nature-based, ‘organic’ design aesthetic. The residence is an important component in the career evolution of Douglas Cardinal who has been nationally and internationally recognized as a master architect. The design of the Grotski Residence embodies Cardinal’s native identity, his association with the environment and the prairie landscape, his academic roots in the fluid designs of numerous previous architects and his non-conventional personality.

The period of significance for this residence is 1978. Given that it is relatively recent, it is no surprise that the Grotski Residence is in remarkably original condition. The character-defining features include the exterior post and beam structural expression, the natural finish exterior cedar siding, the articulated brick chimney, the curvilinear brick living room fireplace, various interior brick features, extensive use of interior cedar finishes on walls and ceilings, and large expanses of glass that blur the line between outside and inside. The original exterior finishes were weathered but salvageable and have been retained and restored. The exterior brick chimney is also severely weathered and was reconstructed. The original brick is no longer available but extensive effort was made to find a closely matching brick in conjunction with the restoration of Cardinal’s 1981 St. Albert Place.

The residence was purchased by Dr. Nan Schuurmans in 2010, who from the beginning has been determined to protect the house from demolition and restore it to its original condition. The residence will be designated and protected as a Municipal Historic Resource by the City of Edmonton in 2011. The restoration and renovation project began in fall 2010 and was completed in 2012

Team Members

Architect: David Murray Architect

Interior Designer: Fay Mihailides Interior Design

General Contractor: Rescom Inc.

Masonry Contractor: Scorpio Masonry (Northern) Inc.