The Aga Khan Garden at the University of Alberta opens spring 2018
A spectacular new garden will open this spring at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, located 15 minutes southwest of Edmonton.
Acontribution in excess of $25 million was made by His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community.
The gift arises from an honorary doctorate given to His Highness in 2009.
Thomas Woltz, of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, has created a 4.8-hectare marvel of secluded forest paths, and wide, stepped terraces that change with the seasons. Geometric water features stream into wetlands and local plants. It will be created around the existing Calla Pond at the heart of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden.
His Highness has restored and built magnificent parks and gardens around the globe as part of the broader development programs of the AKDN, including parks in Cairo, Kabul and Delhi. (Aga Khan University is also part of the AKDN.) He believes that parks can be tools for social and economic benefit.
The Aga Khan Garden is the first garden in Western Canada, the second in North America
“On the 150th anniversary of Canada, it is appropriate that we are creating together a Mughal-style garden which echoes the great contributions that Muslims have made to world heritage,” said the Aga Khan. “The Mughals built the Taj Mahal and Humayun's Tomb and the gardens around them, so the university's embrace of this project is an inherently pluralistic act. The creation of this garden therefore both deepens an existing partnership and illustrates
The addition of the new Aga Khan Garden is expected to attract 75,000 to 160,000 new visitors to the Botanic Garden. An interpretive program will help visitors understand the featured plants and the art and design of the garden.
The Aga Khan Garden celebrates both the 150th anniversary of Canada and the Diamond Jubilee that marks 60 years since the Aga Khan became the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.
Geometry is an important element common in Islamic landscapes. The geometric structure of this garden acts as a framework for the local wetlands and honours the ridges of sand dunes that were once an ancient glacial lake.