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How do people value heritage buildings?


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#21 Bingo

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:36 PM

But that's the thing, the younger generations in Victoria have no desire to do away with the City's stock of old buildings.

The generations of Victorians that once razed much of historic downtown Victoria in their days of young adulthood (or stood idly by while political agendas of the day allowed such things to happen) seem to believe that the young adults of today are equally as unmotivated and disinterested in the urban form of their city.


That might be true, but when I was younger I was to busy "playing" to be interested in saving old buildings or bridges. I think as a person ages you question your own imortality, and you tend to want to keep some of the old familar things/heritage around.

Anyone can ask themselves, what old momento do you have squirreled away that you can't part with, but that would be of little value to another person?

Isn't this a form of heritage, except on a smaller scale?

#22 Mike K.

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:40 PM

But Bingo, where do you get the notion that Victoria's younger generations are not interested in maintaining Victoria's stock of old buildings?

That might be true, but when I was younger I was to busy "playing" to be interested in saving old buildings or bridges.


Many youth and young adults of today are overwhelmingly concerned with the urban form and function of their cities as is evidenced by the many young adults who together with Victoria's older residents contribute on this forum.

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#23 Bingo

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:04 PM

But Bingo, where do you get the notion that Victoria's younger generations are not interested in maintaining Victoria's stock of old buildings?



Many youth and young adults of today are overwhelmingly concerned with the urban form and function of their cities as is evidenced by the many young adults who together with Victoria's older residents contribute on this forum.


I don't think I am suggesting younger people on this forum are not interested in heritage, since everyone here is supposed to be anonymous as to gender or age. Unless I know personally some of the people commenting, I have no idea as to their age, unless they reveal that through their comments.

I do happen to know that many younger people are concerned about preserving older buildings with seismic upgrades along with a new development.

#24 Mike K.

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:13 PM

Correct. To clarify I am not saying that you're suggesting anything of the sort, but I just want to reiterate that unlike prior generations the youth of today are generally much more interested in the growth and evolution of their urban areas and that includes the preservation of heritage assets (much to the relief of old-timers). :)

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#25 sebberry

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 12:11 AM

I'm a big fan of fresh, crisp, contempary modern architecture. For me personally I'm somewhat indifferent to many of the heritage buildings around town (blasphemy, I know) but I see a value in retaining them.

I think that there are some fantastic things modern design and technology can do to restore and breathe new life into older buildings. I love the juxtaposition of contemporary and historic architecture and think that new only helps to strengthen the value and bring out the beauty of old. I'm not a fan of faux heritage.

Where I do get a little frustrated is when heritage interest groups dictate the design and development of new construction when their mandate is the preservation of heritage structures.

It takes a special developer with a keen eye for design to do a good job at turning around old buildings. If the developer is sidetracked and incurs extra cost panering to the heritage interest group, then what does that potentially take away from the restoration of the heritage building?

I'm looking forward to grabbing lunch at the NJ Cafe (hopefully something like that goes in), watching the boats float by under the new bridge which will inevitably be stuck "up" as they wait for a Swiss watch repairman to fly in and fix it.

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#26 Brick and Mortar

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:40 AM

Again, I feel like I have to emphasize that this just isn't correct. What they're advocating for along Wharf Street (for example) is for the situation to remain basically the same as it is right now, in 2012.

The last thing they would ever want is for that area to be more like the way it was "decades ago". Decades ago there were effectively one-and-a-half more city blocks down there and 10-12 more buildings than there are now (the tallest building being three stories). There were no traffic islands. There were no parks or even any trees.

Back in those days the Northern Junk buildings were not isolated and removed from everything else. They were part of the urban scene, tightly integrated into the streetscape. That's one of the reasons why I really like the Northern Junk proposal. It will restore the streetscape on the west side of Wharf Street and it will undo the isolation of the old warehouse buildings.

Link to photo:
http://vintageairpho...com/bo-47-1455/


I am pretty sure that if you passed along the photo that you have included to the FRUITs and asked if they would like the area in question to be re-built to emulate this they would be all over it. This is getting off topic though. To cut to the chase, my point was that the FRUIts and NIMBYs will never be supportive of higher density projects in the downtown core, and more particularly in old town. This is the wrong attitude as far as I am concerned. Like you I am very much in favor of the Reliance gentrification of this area. Maybe it was more of a rant on my part but I am just sick of hearing the NIMBYs and FRUITs sh*t all over projects that will undoubtedly benefit the social and economic fabric of downtown.

#27 Greg

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:05 AM

The Hallmark Heritage Society, often cited for not putting forward a position regarding the Johnson Street bridge, felt that the existing bridge did not display a sufficient level of heritage value to merit restoration, for that is what it would be.


Here is what most Victorians know about the Blue Bridge:

It is a bascule bridge designed by Joseph Strauss who also built the Golden Gate Bridge. It has its own wiki page (http://en.wikipedia....n_Street_Bridge) with about two screens of information.

Here is what most Victorians know about the Northern Junk buildings:

They are crumbling. They've been vacant as long as we can remember. It's a good place to buy drugs.

It is honestly incomprehensible to me how the latter is the heritage project over which Hallmark is drawing a line in the sand.

On the Northern Junk site, a well-designed iconic building may have been more acceptable. Take a look at the density of the proposed new building if you deduct the land under the Northern Junk site. Bad architecture will be with us for the next one hundred years. Be careful what you wish for. Rattle, Rattle.


Heritage buildings become iconic with time. They aren't built that way. A new structure that is intentionally attempting to be iconic tends to be conforming and uninteresting for the most part, it treads over familiar ground. The overwhelming majority of the most important iconic architectural structures around the world were explicitly iconoclastic when they were built.

#28 jonny

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:39 AM

Here is what most Victorians know about the Northern Junk buildings:



I would argue that most Victorians don't even know that the Northern Junk buildings exist.

Everybody knows that the blue bridge exists.

#29 Rob Randall

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:34 PM

The Hallmark Heritage Society, often cited for not putting forward a position regarding the Johnson Street bridge, felt that the existing bridge did not display a sufficient level of heritage value to merit restoration, for that is what it would be. A number of this forums members members still feel it should be saved and not replaced with a new, modern structure.


It is a fact that the existing bridge has heritage value. See the heritage report the City commissioned:

Overall Value
The Johnson Street Bridge has very high heritage value in the context of Victoria, the Inner Harbour, and the City’s and Region’s transportation systems.

The Bridge has high heritage value as an engineering landmark designed by one of North America’s most renowned bridge engineers / engineering firms.
...
Conclusion
The Johnson Street Bridge is a very significant heritage landmark whose characteristics illustrate many key themes in the development of Victoria.


It is acknowledged that the Hallmark Society and its sympathisers are extremely open-minded about what is deemed heritage, including championing the preservation of old brick walls. So why is an old wall worthy but a unique bridge isn't worth a second glance? How can something the experts agree is valuable be ignored by the city's leading preservationist/appreciation society?

Johnson claims the blue bridge did not "merit" restoration but what does that mean exactly? Is the Society's mandate to decide what is worthy of restoration? I thought their mandate was to identify and champion heritage. Further clarification is needed.

The contradictions in Johnson's posts are so confounding I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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#30 aastra

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

I am pretty sure that if you passed along the photo that you have included to the FRUITs and asked if they would like the area in question to be re-built to emulate this they would be all over it.


I doubt it because Mr. Johnson himself described the current auto-oriented configuration as "perfect" in a radio interview back in January. He said the adjacent old town districts and the bridge* come together perfectly and that the new building will obliterate the perfection so you won't be able to "see it" or "feel it" anymore.

*the new bridge, presumably

My point is, the current auto-oriented configuration was created by razing the old commercial buildings that formerly occupied the area and reconfiguring the streets to serve as bridge approaches. I just can't believe that someone could love the current configuration and also love the historic configuration and also be opposed to making the current configuration more similar to the historic configuration.

#31 Brick and Mortar

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:48 PM

Here is what most Victorians know about the Blue Bridge:

It is a bascule bridge designed by Joseph Strauss who also built the Golden Gate Bridge. It has its own wiki page (http://en.wikipedia....n_Street_Bridge) with about two screens of information.

Here is what most Victorians know about the Northern Junk buildings:

They are crumbling. They've been vacant as long as we can remember. It's a good place to buy drugs.

It is honestly incomprehensible to me how the latter is the heritage project over which Hallmark is drawing a line in the sand.



Heritage buildings become iconic with time. They aren't built that way. A new structure that is intentionally attempting to be iconic tends to be conforming and uninteresting for the most part, it treads over familiar ground. The overwhelming majority of the most important iconic architectural structures around the world were explicitly iconoclastic when they were built.


Agree

#32 Brick and Mortar

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:51 PM

I doubt it because Mr. Johnson himself described the current auto-oriented configuration as "perfect" in a radio interview back in January. He said the adjacent old town districts and the bridge* come together perfectly and that the new building will obliterate the perfection so you won't be able to "see it" or "feel it" anymore.

*the new bridge, presumably

My point is, the current auto-oriented configuration was created by razing the old commercial buildings that formerly occupied the area and reconfiguring the streets to serve as bridge approaches. I just can't believe that someone could love the current configuration and also love the historic configuration and also be opposed to making the current configuration more similar to the historic configuration.


Fair enough. I think we can both agree that we do not share Mr Johnsons point of view.

#33 phx

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:25 PM

The Northern Junk buildings do bring some issues of heritage into focus.

As best I can tell, the buildings are:
  • not old (1864 is not old for a building)
  • non-functional
  • occupying valuable land
  • of little historical significance (pop quiz: name one important event that occurred there)

Resources should be put toward building the city, not making it stagnate.

#34 PulpVictor

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:12 AM

The Northern Junk buildings do bring some issues of heritage into focus.

As best I can tell, the buildings are:

  • not old (1864 is not old for a building)
  • non-functional
  • occupying valuable land
  • of little historical significance (pop quiz: name one important event that occurred there)

Resources should be put toward building the city, not making it stagnate.


You are right, they are not old. Mike K is right, there can be a wonderful mix of old and new in a truly vibrant city (take London, England for instance). We are a new city relative to the rest of the world. Personally, I don't like all of the Victorian stuff. Stuffy. I prefer modern design, but mostly because of the function. However, on a personal note, I went back to a little prairie town where my family is from a few years ago, and there were cairns erected where the school, the church and my Great great grandparents house used to be. It was very sad.

#35 aastra

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:14 PM

London? Old? Obviously you people have never been to Italy. Then again, the old stuff in Italy is a bit of a joke compared to the old stuff in Egypt.

In other words, it's silly for North Americans to be self-deprecating about their history simply because other places are older. Choose just about any thing in any place on the face of the earth and there's going to be something somewhere else that's older. To be comparing numbers in this manner is to completely miss the point.

But Victorians do tend to focus on numbers above all else so maybe there's some twisted sense in there somewhere.

...there were cairns erected where the school, the church and my Great great grandparents house used to be. It was very sad.

In downtown Victoria there are bunkers and bland little office blocks where great old buildings used to be. It's very sad.

#36 Ken Johnson

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:28 PM

Correct. To clarify I am not saying that you're suggesting anything of the sort, but I just want to reiterate that unlike prior generations the youth of today are generally much more interested in the growth and evolution of their urban areas and that includes the preservation of heritage assets (much to the relief of old-timers). :)


The interest of today's youth in the preservation of heritage assets and history can be seen at the website of the BC Heritage Fairs http://www.bcheritagefairs.ca/. From the local fair held each year at the Royal B.C. Museum to the Provincial Fair ( to be held in Victoria in July 2013), the enthusiasm of young people for their history and that of B.C. and Canada is a delight and, for many of us oldsters, an education.

This is an event sponsored by the Hallmark Heritage Society

#37 dasmo

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:33 PM

I am a supporter of key heritage preserving/integrating into a modern city. The great thing about Victoria is it's human scale and european feeling. This stems from it's core being built before the era of carchitecture. It's unfortunate that certain things weren't preserved like our street car network. It's also unfortunate that high-rises were built behind the parliament buildings. Central planning can be a plus. That said, I would like to note that the northen junk buildings, although interesting, are far from examples great architecture. The revitalization of that area is sorely needed and I myself am willing to accept "decent" architecture in order to see this done in my lifetime. Who knows, once your feet are on the ground it might even be great. The Atrium is an example of that. Not fantastic to look at but the space it creates is vibrant, and feels good to be in. It aids in the success of the businesses that occupy it. Now that is great architecture. It's also about the space it creates, not just the exterior look...
Although I supported a new bridge (misled and misinformed I was). I do find it very odd to claim that the blue bridge held no heritage value. A great solution would have been to keep it as the pedestrian, train, bike path and build a new car one next to it. That would have been something worthwhile to champion and might have saved us from the mess we are in now....

#38 Jon S

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:40 PM

Great thread. Send it all to Council. The proposed rezoned Floor space ratio of the Northern Junk proposal is 1.36. The as zoned floor space ratio of the surrounding old town is 3.0. The difference is all going to Public Space including the sea wall. So heritage preservation/restoration and waterfront public space are in balance.
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#39 Jeep

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 11:21 PM

I'm sure that the Hallmark Group will have much more opposition to this in the mainstream press, and will represent at the Public hearing. VV members who support this and similar projects definitely need to write in to council as suggested, and show up to speak in favor at the Public Hearings. While we all love this unique forum as a way to come together, while we wait for the outcome to this and then comment on it, Hallmark and their organized detractors will be writing many letters to council, and showing up "live" at the hearings...

It doesn't matter if Hallmark are right or wrong, it matters who shows up, and who speaks up...we've seen this before...we can't let a small negative minority which is just barely hanging on to its legitimacy scare council into indecision again...:whyme:

#40 Jon S

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:12 AM

I believe if email is sent to this person, that it is distributed to Mayor and Council as well as planning staff.

Legislative Services
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