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#61 aastra

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:54 PM

The adversarial approach doesn't work. "Eternal opposition is not a principle." Victoria really needs to see more cooperation whereby the various groups work with developers to make good proposals (example: Northern Junk) that much better.

...only against poor, insensitive and architecturally mediocre development.

Also, we need to strive to be more specific. It's great to say we dislike lousy things, but half of us are going to say the modern addition to city hall is a masterpiece and half of us are going to say it's a total disaster. We need to identify the particulars re: why we like or dislike something.

And we need to be consistent.

Consider the Old Town Design Guidelines: if a project like Northern Junk can satisfy the guidelines so well and still be controversial then we need to question the very purpose of the guidelines. Is the point merely to create more bureaucracy in service of eternal opposition? Or is the point to clarify the environment and lay out the ground rules by which we expect developers to operate? I hope it's the latter.

The prologue doesn't leave much room for doubt:

For many years, design guides for new buildings in historic cities emphasized subservience to the past. Their key message was that design in a historic context must be imitative or meek - the commonly used words were “compatible with” and “subordinate to.” Buildings that followed such guidance often said little about the time in which they were designed – they ignored contemporary values. We are custodians, not curators, of the historic environment. Our city is evolving, it is not a museum object, and we have a duty in the design of new buildings, additions to non-heritage buildings, and new urban spaces to respond to changing ways of working, living and playing. Equally, in our search for contemporary urbanism in Old Town, the latent structures that will answer this call shall respond to the existing urban context and find form that reflects the values of the time in which they are conceived.



#62 sdwright.vic

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:23 PM

Unfortunately when they speak the results are often this:




What did the original proposal look like? Inquiring minds wish to know!

I despise the HUGE waste of land that corner part is...
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#63 Ken Johnson

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:26 PM

Part of the problem lies within the system. In the example of the Northern Junk Proposal we (the Hallmark Society, participants in this blog, etc.,) have little idea as to the nature of the proposal until it hits the Land Use and Planning Committee. It may have been viewed earlier by the Downtown Neighborhood Association but that process does not seem to generate a wide-spread publicity.

City Hall will work on a proposal for up to six or eight months before it becomes more than a rumor. This is because many developers make a conditional offer on the land/existing building and want confidentiality until the approval process is well under way.

Council places a great deal of weight on a staff recommendation of approval for a project. Few projects without staff approval ever get to the table. Staff can slant a report one way or another. Understandably, the task of staff appears to be one of helping a project through the approval process.

By the time it hits the street, the Land Use Committee, the die is often cast - the design of the building is set and, all to often, not to meet a design guideline but to meet some other objective within the OCP, density being the the favoured flavour of the day.

Density is great. Well designed buildings are great.

The Old Town Design Guidelines were intentionally left non-specific; non-prescriptive. It was hoped the examples given would result in some inspiration. This has not happened. Every new building cannot be iconic. Who can afford a building by Gehry? But we need some discussion at the preliminary stages.

The Advisory Design Panel is, by mandate, filled with architects and designers. One would hope they could provide some feedback but, again, when the project gets to them, it is nearly approved. They try to make minor adjustments but staff can move the process along without significant changes being made. One of the problems with the ADP is that architects don't feel comfortable in openly criticizing the work of fellow architects.

Anyway IMHO, and completely separate from the Hallmark position, the Northern Junk proposal should consist of a series of one-story buildings starting at the Johnson Street end of the property and rising up in a concave curve to how ever many stories are required to match the raised height of the new bridge. The concave curve and running at an arc around the roadway may present a fantastic new building to match a fantastic new bridge.

#64 amor de cosmos

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:37 PM

"Architecture is an art of imagination and memory: it lives in the present and depends upon the past for its meanings and ideas." Robert A.M. Stern - Traditional and Invention in Architecture


1. Forget the architectures of the world as something good in their way and in their time.

*snip*

3. Beware of the architectural school except as the exponent of engineering.

4. Go into the field where you can see the machines and methods at work that make the modern buildings, or stay in construction direct and simple until you can work naturally into building-design from the nature of construction.

*snip*


Frank Lloyd Wright, essay for people starting out in architecture

#65 Bingo

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 08:45 PM

The reference to The Hudson's Bay Company building being a duplicate of Vancouver's building and therefore eligible for destruction was tongue-in-cheek in response to HistoryBuff's comment about a similar bascule bridge to the Johnson Street Bridge still standing in Aberdeen, Washington.


What's left of the Johnson Street Bridge is now similar to the bridge in Aberdeen, and whatever heritage value the JSB had when the two bascule bridges were side by side is now gone.

#66 sebberry

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:09 PM

Not speaking for the Society but for myself, The City needs some good architectural criticism. I too would like the new buildings to become the heritage buildings of the future. Again, this requires good architecture and a commitment to design as well as density on the part of the City of Victoria.


So 150 years ago when NJ was built, were they thinking about how those buildings would be appreciated in 2013? The thing about heritage is that it offers a nice glimpse back at how buildings used to be designed and constructed.

Influencing current designs so they have more heritage appeal 150 years from now kind of defeats the purpose of having these period pieces that serve as markers of the decades.

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#67 Ken Johnson

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:50 AM

[quote name='sebberry']So 150 years ago when NJ was built, were they thinking about how those buildings would be appreciated in 2013?[QUOTE]

Perhaps not, but they were thinking about good design and how it affects people's perceptions about the buildings around them. In an time when most buildings within the city were still wood frame, these were constructed of stone and brick. The front facades were finished with dimension stone with some detailing and would have been among the earliest buildings in the City to receive what would have been a more expensive finish in this manner. The stone itself was probably quarried from Booth Bay on Saltspring Island where the remnants of the quarry can be seen to this day.

#68 29er Radio

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 08:26 AM

Great thread people. You cant please any of the people any of the time. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to sit through a design panel meeting with the local neighbourhood groups affected by a development at Oak Bay and Foul Bay (the oak bay bikes bldng) and the room was split down the middle and became as petty as "we don't like the colour used for the concrete columns".
Asking peoples opinions gives a sense of entitlement when none may exist and it can be frustrating for both sides (pro/con) on any issue. I have been involved with a number of applications for variance's or development permits and got the feeling that the decision maker is going to make a personal decision and look for the best way to justify it so they are perceived as reasonable.
We all feel entitled to require others to behave the way we want them to but rarely return the favour. To date, I have met no one at a design panel meeting that would ever let anyone tell them what to do with their building, if it came up for discussion. Architecture creates passion and rarely is passion a stable commodity we can all agree with, so let it ride, let people make mistakes and put your trust in the fact that you will die and it just wont matter that much in the long run. Unless of course you are planning on putting up a multi unit house near mine, then F U developer.
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#69 Mike K.

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 09:34 AM

I like the art-deco/moderne look of the Sussex building. It has little to do with traditional architecture. It is clearly a modern building. It is not a building in the now discredited "International Style".


The point I was trying to make is that certain forces on council did away with the design depicted in the artists rendering of The Sussex. What was ultimately built is a non-descript, severely muted building compared to what was initially proposed by Merrick architecture, coincidentally the same architect behind Northern Junk and Janion. I love the Sussex myself but it could have been a signature tower in our city.

Sdwright, the rendering is what was proposed. The difference between concept and reality is striking.

The Hallmark Heritage Society has not commented unfavourably to the general development of the Mondrian, The Janion, The ERA, The Duet, the new buildings behind the Hudson, the Union and many others.
Yesterday 01:08 PM


Other than Janion, which the Society is still not entirely behind due to minor architectural complaints, these other projects either have no heritage remediation components are have agreed to go to big lengths to preserve "facades."

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#70 Ken Johnson

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:40 AM

Other than Janion, which the Society is still not entirely behind due to minor architectural complaints, these other projects either have no heritage remediation components are have agreed to go to big lengths to preserve "facades."


Thank you Mike. The point I was trying to make was in opposition to the statement so often voiced within this blog that the Hallmark Society is against all development.

As for the Janion proposal, let make myself perfectly clear: we have minor concerns about some architectural detailing. We are in favour of the proposal. If the concerns were addressed, we would have no problems. If the concerns are not addressed, we are not going to stand in front of the building with protest signs.

FYI, I wrote a 1400 word piece on the history of the Janion for the developer.

#71 Baro

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:47 AM

*pedant mode* This is a forum not a blog.
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#72 Sparky

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:59 AM

^^ Ken, any chance you could upload that 1400 word piece to a host site and provide a link? I am sure we would enjoy the read.

#73 amor de cosmos

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:29 PM

that would probably be a good read. hallmark has a blog, could it be uploaded there?

#74 sebberry

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 12:29 PM

As for the Janion proposal, let make myself perfectly clear: we have minor concerns about some architectural detailing.


I'm not quite sure I see the logic in this.

A proposal that is overwhelmingly supported by the community for bringing some much needed revitalization to the area is being held up over a few "minor architectural concerns"?

Just so I understand correctly, your concerns aren't over what is being proposed for the old buildings but rather the design of the new ones, correct?



PS: Unlike some other lobby groups who want to shut down any and all discussion, I think I can say for all of us that we appreciate you engaging in some conversation with your opponents.

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#75 Mike K.

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:15 PM

Absolutely, I second sebberry's comment. We really appreciate having such a frank and candid debate. Most associations would distance themselves from engaging those who may not necessarily side with some of the positions or desires of an organization.

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#76 Greg

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:28 PM

[directed at Ken Johnson]:...I think I can say for all of us that we appreciate you engaging in some conversation with your opponents.


+1

#77 Ken Johnson

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:50 PM

Just so I understand correctly, your concerns aren't over what is being proposed for the old buildings but rather the design of the new ones, correct?


Just to clarify: The one concern that I may mention is the addition to the north side of the original building. We feel that the addition is currently set back about a foot from the sidewalk to help distinguish the old from the new. If possible, a further set back to a depth of 2 1/2 to 3 feet would be more appropriate ( it may also help visibility when exiting the parking lot). Another concern is what appears to be a large blank wall on this addition. We recognize that the installation of windows on this wall is not required as the space is designed just for access to the parking lot. Another building will, I am certain, be constructed here at some future date. We are unclear as to what is going on this wall in the meantime but something should be there.

We like the new building. It presents two phases: initially, where it joins the back of the Janion, it complements with the elements of the original brick masonry; as it develops westwards it becomes more modern with the curved end reminiscent of the stern of a ship - very appropriate for the location. the building height at the west end is mollified by the slope and the fact that the site allows the construction of a new addition that appears only slightly higher than the original.

#78 Bingo

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 03:56 PM

I suppose the Wang Building is iconic but does not have much chance of becoming heritage.

The original architecture has been disfigured with an array of communication devices as well as a movable video camera that in this photo is pointed towards Uptown.

more on this Saanich Landmark:
http://www.canada.co...1f40c6b=




#79 Ken Johnson

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:33 PM

We have a number of different types or classifications of heritage buildings in Victoria.

The majority of residential commercial buildings, old and new, have no level of heritage protection. the public may perceive them as heritage but this bears little weight in the course of re-development. When they are threatened by demolition or re-development, voices may be heard; from City Hall or from groups such as Hallmark. Remember the Janion was threatened by demolition but the City imposed a 60 day cool-off period and the Owner consented to extend this until Reliance stepped in.

A number of commercial buildings within the downtown core are classed as'registered' on the City list. These are buildings the City feels have some heritage significance but the owners have not, to this point, felt compelled to raise the status of these buildings up to "designated". These buildings can be altered and/or demolished. Alterations to these buildings must go to Heritage Planner and, possibly, to the Heritage Advisory Committee. Both parties may comment, but the Owner is under no compunction to listen - the alterations can be done. If the City doesn't like it, they can designate the property but may be subject to paying the Owner for the privilege - as happened in the case of Rogers Chocolates - its the law. In the normal course of events, these are not designated until the Owners want something in return. Density, seismic upgrade grants, etc.

A designated building has a higher level of protection. Exterior alterations to what are defined as character-defining elements is strictly guided; a heritage alteration permit, HAC approval, Heritage Planner approval, etc. These would normally evoke long discussions with the heritage planner until some compromise is reached. Owners who ignore the rules can be hauled up before Council and ordered to comply - sometimes to remove changes that were done without a heritage alteration permit and, in most cases, without a building permit. All owners know the rules - designation is on the title. They may chose to ignore them and then go to the press and complain about property rights. In most cases, 98%, the interiors can be fully modernized and brought up-to-date.

In Victoria and Saanich, the associated foundations help designated home and commercial properties maintain their buildings through a program of grants. These are the carrots that balance the rules and regulations. These grants range from 25% to 35% of the cost of painting, roofing, drainage, seismic, general exterior repairs etc. Most people want to maintain their properties and welcome the grants. Many owners of older homes designate just to get the grants - its an incentive. This grant program has been in effect for many years and through many councils.

The above may seem long and a bit rambling but, when it comes to the public perception of heritage preservation, there can be a many popular myths and limited information. All I can say is that almost all heritage designations are done at the request of an owner. Before you jump in, note that I said designation and read the previous paragraphs for the difference between designated and registered.

#80 Bingo

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 05:36 PM

This WWII army hut is still in use at UVIC, and is known as "E" Hut

http://www.historicp...eu.aspx?id=1933

 

IMG_0026.jpg


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