Thorncliff is located in west Edmonton, south of the Summerlea neighbourhood, which is home to the West Edmonton Mall. The neighbourhood is bounded by 87th Avenue to the north, 170th Street to the east, Whitemud Drive to the south, and 178th Street to the west.
Thorncliff, like adjacent neighbourhoods, was designed to include more dwelling units per hectare than typically found in suburban neighbourhoods at the time. The aim was to increase residential densities, and the design was an attempt to control urban sprawl, thereby preserving agricultural land, conserving energy, and providing more efficient delivery of services.
Multi-unit structures are clustered in the southwest portion of the neighbourhood and account for 70 percent of the neighbourhood’s total dwelling units. Single-detached homes are located in the northern and western portions of the neighbourhood and form a ring around the central school and park site.
Schools and commercial facilities are central to the neighbourhood design and are easily accessible to residents. The interior collector road is aligned with those of nearby areas to provide a route for public transit that loops through several neighbourhoods in West Jasper Place, terminating at West Edmonton Mall. While a central commercial area is located within the neighbourhood itself, residents can access a range of other services and commercial amenities along 170th and 178th Streets.
Thorncliff's name was suggested by the developers who built the neighbourhood in the 1970s.