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The Hallmark Heritage Society


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#1 Ken Johnson

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:44 PM

The Hallmark guy had quite a presentation, video and all, got a lot in in 10 minutes. A bit too dramatic for my liking, but then I'm biased in favour of the thing.


To those who listened well, the "Hallmark guy" (me) was against the rezoning as it did not meet the OCP and the Downtown Core Area Plan. He detailed each clause where it did not meet these plans and explained how, in the City of Victoria, a developer can "buy" exemptions by providing amenities to the City. In this instance, these amenities include restoring the historic facade, improving the open public space (where the urinal is), and seismically upgrading the old hotel (or what will remain of it). You may wish to note that an amenity can include cash - what is considered a bribe in many international organizations. So in Victoria one can "buy" more height and density.

I showed examples in Victoria and elsewhere where modern additions have been made to historic structures successfully and blended in well. As it is about context, I cited the McPherson Theatre, City Hall, and the CRD building.

The re-development of the Plaza Hotel is needed. The space adjacent is under-utilized. A new building would help the area. But not this building. The architecture is poor and incompatible with the surrounding structures. The design is unsympathetic to what we see in the Old Town Core. The proposed structure would fit in well anywhere east of Douglas street and may well be an excellent design in that area and could have an additional three stories added.

But it doesn't work well here - excess curtain wall along Pandora, larger precast concrete elements, painted concrete to resemble masonry. the Architect stated they were trying to pick up historic architectural elements from the Plaza Hotel facade - they failed.

The Hallmark Society was AGAINST THE REZONING - AGAINST THE HERITAGE REVITALIZATION AGREEMENT AND AGAINST THE HERITAGE DESIGNATION.

No amount of designation can make up for poor architecture. We needed a better design.

Please read:

https://victoria.civ...607 Pandora.pdf

#2 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:19 AM

The problem with the Hallmark Society is that they have some clout but have absolutely no idea how finances work in the real world. Thankfully, their opinion was ignored here, and with luck will be ignored going forward.
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#3 sdwright.vic

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:42 AM

^ why is it if one person our group think its poor architecture it must be for everyone everyone.

Really wish some critiques would go to Europe and see REALLY old building living peacefully alongside REALLY modern ones.

Further, is their not an understanding that the damage done to old town was done long ago when the majority of the facades where stripped destroyed and stuccoed? We are not protecting actual heritage inmost instances, but preserve a watered done version of what actually was. The MEC building and the one across the street are not heritage restoration, more like an attempt to undue a horrible wrong that was already done a long time ago to Old Town. When looking at these building they have and still are "grand dames" without their makeup. Cornice and crown gone.
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#4 Ken Johnson

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:14 AM

The problem with the Hallmark Society is that they have some clout but have absolutely no idea how finances work in the real world. Thankfully, their opinion was ignored here, and with luck will be ignored going forward.


The Hallmark Society has a broad-based membership that reflects much of Victoria. I have been the Society's president for the past three years and bring to the table formal training in architecture, accounting, economics, and marketing with fifty years of business experience, mainly construction management including twenty-five years as the owner of a local small business.

The Society's Board includes students, business people, professionals, and a retired accountant. The Society currently receives no funding from any municipality and is dependent upon membership support.

Contrary to some of the opinions stated in this blog, the Society is not against development. We have supported the Janion re-development since the project was announced. We feel that there are some minor architectural concerns but the project is a reasonable solution to adaptive re-use.

We are not in favour of the wholesale destruction of the heritage and history of a city. We feel that the older buildings within Greater Victoria are an important asset and should not be destroyed for in the name of 'modernization' and 'profit'. When new buildings are added, they should reflect the traditions inherent in every city - not to copy or create a 'Disneyland', but to incorporate some traditional architectural elements that state "here is where we started and here is where we are going". Building designs of this nature require thoughtful and innovative architecture, not some banal rip-off pasted onto a historical facade.

Every city has a past - a now - a future. We cannot change the past. City's that have done so have failed. We can only build upon that past, not to destroy it but use it to remind the future where this city came from. As for now, we must be concerned that what we are now building will become someone's heritage building. Are current designs going to be honoured and cherished or will they be torn down?

Be careful what you ask for - you may get it.

#5 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:23 AM

The Hallmark Society exists solely in order to try to dictate what others do with their own private property.

They have no "skin in the game".

For that they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
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#6 HB

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:29 AM

when the majority of the facades where stripped destroyed and stuccoed? We are not protecting actual heritage inmost instances, but preserve a watered done version of what actually was. The MEC building and the one across the street are not heritage restoration, more like an attempt to undue a horrible wrong that was already done a long time ago to Old Town. When looking at these building they have and still are "grand dames" without their makeup. Cornice and crown gone.



I could not agree more with your statement here. The MEC building and the one next to it and many others were covered in stucco and all of the facinating features of the brick building are covered probably forever. When the ministry of forests moved out of that place and it was converted to residential they had a perfect opportunity to strip it clean of the stucco
In my opinion that place has virtually no hetitage features visible other than a few at street level.
If they wanted to do tthe job right they should have done what the synagogue did when they stipped the stucco form their building revealing a wonderful structure that for years had been hidden.








The city should have made the developer do a true historical restoration on that building but its not surprising that they didnt because this city has a history of authorizing the razing of historical buildings... If they dont tear it all down they leave a piece of it stnding then slap a heritage building plaque on the front and call it a day.

I am sure that when the Union building and the Era are completed the facades that were incorporated into the new condos will be sporting brand new brass plaques on them proclaiming they are heritage buildings.

I still get mad when I look at the Bay Centre and remember all the old buildings there that where leveled by wrecking balls in the 1980s

#7 sdwright.vic

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:38 AM

Example of modern and historic...

http://dornob.com/hi...glass-box-home/

They can and do exist all over the world!
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#8 amor de cosmos

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:13 AM

Please read:

https://victoria.civ...607 Pandora.pdf


did you actually read that? because there's nothing in there that supports what you're saying.

#9 Mike K.

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:22 AM

The Hallmark Society has a broad-based membership that reflects much of Victoria. I have been the Society's president for the past three years and bring to the table formal training in architecture, accounting, economics, and marketing with fifty years of business experience, mainly construction management including twenty-five years as the owner of a local small business.

The Society's Board includes students, business people, professionals, and a retired accountant. The Society currently receives no funding from any municipality and is dependent upon membership support.

Contrary to some of the opinions stated in this blog, the Society is not against development. We have supported the Janion re-development since the project was announced. We feel that there are some minor architectural concerns but the project is a reasonable solution to adaptive re-use.

We are not in favour of the wholesale destruction of the heritage and history of a city. We feel that the older buildings within Greater Victoria are an important asset and should not be destroyed for in the name of 'modernization' and 'profit'. When new buildings are added, they should reflect the traditions inherent in every city - not to copy or create a 'Disneyland', but to incorporate some traditional architectural elements that state "here is where we started and here is where we are going". Building designs of this nature require thoughtful and innovative architecture, not some banal rip-off pasted onto a historical facade.

Every city has a past - a now - a future. We cannot change the past. City's that have done so have failed. We can only build upon that past, not to destroy it but use it to remind the future where this city came from. As for now, we must be concerned that what we are now building will become someone's heritage building. Are current designs going to be honoured and cherished or will they be torn down?

Be careful what you ask for - you may get it.


Members of The Hallmark Society may believe that they represent much of Victoria but I challenge that statement. As far as most individuals are aware the Society actually represents a very small, niche interest that has traditionally enjoyed a lot of media attention thanks to its political allegiances and has been organized to the point where ample resources could be directed at opposing or affecting development, but this does not translate to representing a sizable portion of the community. If that were the case, Victoria Plaza Hotel would have been voted down and support for Northern Junk would be non-existent.

The onus is on The Hallmark Society to show where and when wholesale destruction of Victoria's heritage has actually taken place in the last 20 years, other than the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge which The Hallmark Society was completely silent on. That was a real shame, but perhaps political allegiances are more important to the Society than heritage given the right circumstances and that speaks volumes on how the Society operates and who it purports to represent.

Speaking of politics, a mockery of the political process is the Society's president sitting on the City of Victoria's Heritage Advisory Committee while actively engaged in efforts to oppose the very projects put before the committee. The court of public opinion considers this to be a conflict of interest but the Society gives no heed to such concerns, perhaps because the president and the membership believe they have "much of Victoria" on their side and are therefore exempt from such scrutiny.

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#10 sdwright.vic

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:38 AM

Even more examples of modern additions in heritage environments. Can the Society explain how this is done so effectively in so many places of the world, but seems to be an offense here?

https://www.google.c...iw=1366&bih=659
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#11 Ken Johnson

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:54 AM

The President of the Hallmark Society no longer sits on the City of Victoria Heritage Advisory Committee. Other members of the Society do so. The presence of Society member(s) on that body is mandated by the City of Victoria, as well as the presence of architects, engineers and professionals in the field of heritage preservation. If any participant of this blog feel they are qualified and so wish, they may apply for a seat on this or any other City committee.

As for the Hallmark Heritage Society being a fringe group, I should think we currently have more members than many local community and business associations . Our membership is represented by interested individuals and heritage professionals from all over Canada. The Society has been the recipient of Provincial and National awards for heritage advocacy. This year the Society celebrates 40 years of increasing public awareness regarding heritage preservation.

Want to come and talk to us? We will be at the Ross Bay Villa, 1490 Fairfield on August 4th, helping them celebrate the Grand Opening of the restored house. On August 11th we shall be at Bamfield Park with the Gorge Swim Fest illustrating the history of the social and athletic use of the Gorge and, on August 24th, we shall be a the Church of St John the Baptist in Colwood celebrating the Church's history and the heritage of Colwood.

We may differ in opinion but I am going to be out there and in your face. Writing letters to the newspapers, doing radio and news interviews, and appearing before all of the local government bodies - advocating heritage preservation.

#12 Ken Johnson

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:52 PM

Even more examples of modern additions in heritage environments. Can the Society explain how this is done so effectively in so many places of the world, but seems to be an offense here?

https://www.google.c...iw=1366&bih=659


Had anyone been paying attention at the City Council meeting last Thursday, they may have noted that the Society gave a number of examples where modern building was added to a heritage structure - some in Victoria.

There is no substitute for good architecture in the case of additions to historic buildings and no excuse for bad architecture.

http://www.nps.gov/t...r-additions.htm

#13 sdwright.vic

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:10 PM

^ But its bad architecture in your opinion... not the masses. You see you miss the point that more people are willing to complain then not. So the fact that you have a large number of people willing to complain holds no water with me.
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#14 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:25 PM

Had anyone been paying attention at the City Council meeting last ]


I paid attention to your presentation. 5 of 8 councillors and the Mayor thought your presentation was lousy. I agree.
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#15 Rob Randall

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:37 PM

I think you'll find most of the folks on here are fierce defenders of Victoria's heritage. I like to think we have a critical and holistic view on the definition of heritage. In other words, we are more inclusive and yet more discerning--not just Victorian houses are heritage and it takes more than simply age to make something part of our heritage. I'm a lover of our heritage yet I've seen some nutty, head shaking decisions coming out of that Heritage Advisory Committee.

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#16 Mike K.

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:59 PM

I'm glad to hear the president of the Society has recently decided to step down from the Heritage Advisory Committee.

As Rob said above, most people do not want heritage destroyed. Most people do not want to see run-down heritage buildings. But most people also do not want to live in a museum that only celebrates the past and shuns the future.

Where organizations like The Hallmark Society miss the ball and fail to build sympathy is their incessant "sky is falling" attitude. Statements like "we are not in favour of the wholesale destruction of the heritage and history of a city" imply that those not in support of the Society are in fact in support of wholesale destruction of heritage, whereas no such thing is occurring other than the destruction of the Johnson Street Bridge, but as I've already mentioned the Society was silent during the lengthy campaign to try and save this heritage asset.

As VHF said, five out of eight councillors plus the mayor felt the Society's point of view was not the point of view shared by the majority of residents and voted to rezone the property and I am fairly certain that our elected officials will side with Reliance Properties' plans to restore the Northern Junk buildings as well.

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#17 Bob Fugger

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:05 PM

There is no substitute for good architecture in the case of additions to historic buildings and no excuse for bad architecture.


And so the Hallmark Society is the defender of the faith then, eh? A theocratic little clique who decides what's good and what's bad, forcing developers to contort themselves to their interpretation of the heritage preservation architectural fad of the week. They must be made of brass, sir, for you to have the chutzpah to force developers who risk their capital to needlessly risk more of it until it's "good" enough for you. And with zero skin in the game, yourselves.

You expect elected officials and developers to heed you expertise? Expertise that allowed the MEC building to turn out as it did, or worse: your deafening silence on what should have been the City's ultimate heritage preservation project, in the Johnson Street Bridge refurbishment project.

This is why you're irrelevant.

#18 rjag

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 06:13 AM

So much venom!!!!
Give them their due, at least they are standing up for what they believe in. Personal attacks are not becoming of us, or so I've been told!
Personally I think we have far too many vocal minority groups attempting to sway the masses with their claim they speak for all, they don't, only their members, they seem to forget that.

#19 Bingo

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 06:31 AM

And so the Hallmark Society is the defender of the faith then, eh? ...your deafening silence on what should have been the City's ultimate heritage preservation project, in the Johnson Street Bridge refurbishment project.


The bridge was the last opportunity to preserve something that was an interesting piece of mechanical heritage...the last of it's kind, and soon to be extinct.

#20 Baro

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 06:59 AM

Yeah, lost what little respect I had for the hallmark society as a genuine historical-preservation society with the bridge. I realized they're just an anti-development lobby that uses "heritage" as an excuse to mask their nimbyism. Victoria has lost so much of it's density and amazing architecture since the turn of the century and now the hallmark society fights every project trying to rebuild that legacy. And their constant demands that every new building be dumbed-down and made bland to "respect" its neighbours has produced some very bland architecture.

Our heritage was dense buildings made of the finest materials and grandest architecture of the day, I'd like to see that heritage continued today while maintaining the best of the previous generations.
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