Celebrate the oil, that’s what the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers owner, Daryl Katz, wants to do with the 360 Architecture design of a proposed new arena for Alberta’s oil-rich city.

Renderings were released recently by the City of Edmonton of a full council unveil on May 16 and a public comment period opening in June, the new $450 million arena is modeled after a drop of oil. Or a comma. Or a mutated boomerang. Okay, officially, we’ll stick with the drop of oil.

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Considered a preliminary design, the curving glass-heavy structure falls into the proposed Edmonton Arena District, expected to provide a boost to the entire area north of Jasper Avenue. Along with the 18,500-seat “Oil Dome” (as has been dubbed by local media) set to open for the 2015-16 season if funding issues can fix themselves, expect a bevy of other community and retail uses surrounding the arena in a redevelopment push.

The main curve of the arena comes serves a use as a tall pedway over 104 Avenue that “drops people down to a new public square.” The interior of the building will spill open to daylight with the ample amount of glass designed into the sides of the arena. In a different act of lighting, the roof will potentially shoot beams of colored light into the sky, reminiscent of previous 360 Architecture designs, including an NHL arena in Columbus, Ohio.

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In a statement by the city, however, officials are quick to point out these images are preliminary and only a “starting point for evaluating possible options for building amenities and construction feasibility.”

Katz told local media he’s an architecture buff and thought the oil drop captured the spirit of Edmonton. He’s also a big fan of the potential to tie the arena to a slew of new developments locally and the potential to light up Edmonton’s sky with the lighted roof. Katz has been following the reaction of the locals and says they have been largely supportive of the progressive design.

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Katz has been on a push to use the $450 million NHL hockey complex to anchor the new Edmonton Arena District, with $125 million coming from the city of Edmonton and $100 million from Katz to build the facility. A Facility Improvement Fee paid by users will pull in another $125 million. But the additional $100 million still hasn’t been spoken for, although both the city and Katz appear confident that provincial infrastructure funds could make up the final funding gap.

While Edmonton already hosts NHL hockey and easily sells out their current venue on a routine basis, Katz says the city needs a new arena to keep the Oilers viable, since the current Rexall Place location is one of the smallest in the league, is the second oldest and caps revenue abilities with its lack of luxury amenities, suits and more.

Hopefully the rest of North American can follow the lead of Edmonton and design all new arenas after the area’s leading commodity. Imagine the possibilities. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter here.

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