In 1911, the now world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the Banff Pavilion, a visitor center commissioned by the Government of Canada. Undertaken in conjunction with Canadian architect, Francis Conroy Sullivan of Ottawa, the Pavilion was completed in 1914, serving the town for 25 years before its premature demolishment in 1939.
Construction of the Pavilion began in 1913 and was finished the following year. Originally intended as a gathering area for visitors and community functions, completion of the Pavilion at the start of WWI saw it become a temporary quartermaster’s store for the Department of Defence. After the war, the Pavilion assumed its intended role as a picnic area and shelter for park goers, drawing large summer crowds from Calgary and Southern Alberta.
Built on the banks of the Bow River, the Pavilion was subject to flooding and frost heaving, leading to the decay of the wooden floor supports. In 1939, the structure was demolished. Although initially meeting with some resistance, the Pavilion became very popular and its demolition met with protest from residents, who’d appreciated, and grown accustomed to the business it had generated.
The Banff Pavilion epitomizes Wright’s renowned Prairie School Style marked by horizontal lines reminiscent of native prairie landscapes. Numerous samples of this characteristic style can be seen across the United States. However, the Pavilion was the only Prairie School Style structure in Canada.