Designed by Thomas Woltz, of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, and incorporating the plants and topography of northern Alberta into a traditional Mughal garden design, the 4.8-hectare garden will feature secluded forest paths, stepped terraces that change with the seasons, geometric water features streaming into wetlands, and an orchard populated by local species. An interpretive program will help visitors understand the plants and art featured in the garden.
Named in recognition of the gift, which comes out of a longstanding relationship between the University of Alberta and the Muslim spiritual leader dating back to 2006, the Aga Khan Garden commemorates both the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Canada and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking sixty years since the Aga Khan became the forty-ninth Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, a Shia sect. His Highness, who also chairs the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), has restored and built parks and gardens around the world, including parks in Cairo, Kabul, and Delhi.
"On the hundred and fiftieth 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 His Highness 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 pluralistic nature of this country. Measures like this should be encouraged, both here and abroad."
"The Aga Khan Garden will be a place to connect with nature, a place of inspiration, and a place where cultural understanding will grow," said Alberta University president David Turpin. "We are honored and grateful that the Aga Khan, a champion of openness and understanding between cultures, selected the University of Alberta for this wonderful gift."