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  #121  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2014, 6:51 PM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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I share in your enthusiasm -- but only because of the north tower. I await updates on potential changes for the south tower, which I somewhat despise as is.
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  #122  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2014, 6:57 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by fenwick16 View Post
The more I look at this proposal the more I enthusiastically want it to proceed. I am even starting to like the cantilevered section. I don't think that the design of the new sections should be muted to decrease the contrast between new and old. The Heritage Advisory Committee voting against it is a concern since the TD Tower was unanimously approved by the Heritage Advisory Committee.

Looking at one of several renderings posted previously, I think that the owner/developer is doing a good job of maintaining the heritage streetscape. The Champlain building facade will be restored to the way it was 100 years ago with arches over the lower windows and restored to the original height. The Bank of Commerce Building will be restored in its entirety.
The treatment of the Champlain Building is nice in terms of the restoration work, but it will commit the classic facadectomy crime of totally overshadowing the massing of the old building with a sheer wall directly behind it, like this, where you practically have to squint to notice the old building in the streetscape. There really isn't a contrast between old and new here--the new building looks like it's one step from bludgeoning the old ones out of existence (which it is, basically). I'm also a bit torn on cutting off the top two floors of Champlain. I know the top floors were added later, but why not just leave them?

Part of the problem is how overwrought and busy the overall design is, like four entirely different towers all stacked on top of one another, plus the historical streetscapes below. It's a bit intense, and not in a goo way. And the architectural integrity of the heritage structures (designated years ago in order to be preserved in their entirety) gets totally subsumed under the new structure(s). A setback would go a long way to addressing this problem--and hey, if the tower needs to go taller to make up for lost square footage, I've got no problem with that.

I think it's important to note that the Heritage Advisory folks aren't voting to reject the project, but to reject the degree of alteration to the heritage structures--which leaves room for the city and developer to work together to a better compromise, which hopefully will result in a better project. It really does feel like, what's the point of designating heritage structures if we're just going to reduce them all to one wall attached to a bigger wall behind them? Facadism has its place, but it's getting to be a crutch for developers who can then claim to be preserving the old buildings, rather than more imaginatively re-use them or better incorporate them into new developments. (Props to them for the full preservation of the Merrill Lynch Building, however.)

Besides implementing a step-back, retaining the old structures as actual entry-points with storefront retail would also go a long way to maintaining the streetscape and still creating an impressive new structure. (Founders Square would be an example of a good project marred by an unfortunate decision to turn the old storefronts into mere decoration.)

Last edited by Drybrain; Feb 1, 2014 at 7:08 PM.
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  #123  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2014, 7:27 PM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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I feel like it'd be better if the upper part of the building came down all the way, instead of this big glass cube on the lower half which looks as if it's crushing the older buildings on the block.
The glass cube, which provides most of the contrast, is not something I would imagine as "crushing" the podium/heritage façades just because the new tower's girth is nearly parallel. The arrangement looks heavyset, but I don't see that as unattractive.

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The architectural integrity of the heritage structures (designated years ago in order to be preserved in their entirety) gets totally subsumed under the new structure. A setback would go a long way to addressing this problem--and hey, if the building needs to go taller to make up for lost square footage, I've got no problem with that.
We realise this is impossible though, right? Since going taller isn't an option, a setback would be outright sacrificing square footage. I'm not convinced it's reasonable to request this from the developer.
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  #124  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2014, 8:39 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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We realise this is impossible though, right? Since going taller isn't an option, a setback would be outright sacrificing square footage. I'm not convinced it's reasonable to request this from the developer.
Yeah, I think you're right in this case--the height is already maxed out. (Personally, I'd be fine with the rules being amended to allow for extra height, but I doubt that'll happen.)

But I don't think it's unreasonable to work with the developer to create a workaround, even if that means sacrificing a bit of space. These are listed buildings, and they were there first--heritage designations (and planning rules in general) have to have some teeth, otherwise we just end up in a situation where the rules are meaningless, being habitually altered to accommodate the whims of each and every different proposal that comes along.

Substantial alterations to heritage properties shouldn't just be fait accompli whenever they're proposed; they should be unusual, and executed with some architectural grace, which I think this proposal is somewhat lacking right now. Again, I want this to happen. I just want it to be better.
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  #125  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2014, 9:38 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
The treatment of the Champlain Building is nice in terms of the restoration work, but it will commit the classic facadectomy crime of totally overshadowing the massing of the old building with a sheer wall directly behind it, like this, where you practically have to squint to notice the old building in the streetscape. There really isn't a contrast between old and new here--the new building looks like it's one step from bludgeoning the old ones out of existence (which it is, basically). I'm also a bit torn on cutting off the top two floors of Champlain. I know the top floors were added later, but why not just leave them?

Part of the problem is how overwrought and busy the overall design is, like four entirely different towers all stacked on top of one another, plus the historical streetscapes below. It's a bit intense, and not in a goo way. And the architectural integrity of the heritage structures (designated years ago in order to be preserved in their entirety) gets totally subsumed under the new structure(s). A setback would go a long way to addressing this problem--and hey, if the tower needs to go taller to make up for lost square footage, I've got no problem with that.

I think it's important to note that the Heritage Advisory folks aren't voting to reject the project, but to reject the degree of alteration to the heritage structures--which leaves room for the city and developer to work together to a better compromise, which hopefully will result in a better project. It really does feel like, what's the point of designating heritage structures if we're just going to reduce them all to one wall attached to a bigger wall behind them? Facadism has its place, but it's getting to be a crutch for developers who can then claim to be preserving the old buildings, rather than more imaginatively re-use them or better incorporate them into new developments. (Props to them for the full preservation of the Merrill Lynch Building, however.)

Besides implementing a step-back, retaining the old structures as actual entry-points with storefront retail would also go a long way to maintaining the streetscape and still creating an impressive new structure. (Founders Square would be an example of a good project marred by an unfortunate decision to turn the old storefronts into mere decoration.)
I don't know. You're making the HAC people sound more reasonable than they really are on this. There are a lot of heritage properties being altered to greater and lesser extent in this development and they reject ever.single.one.of.them. I find them hard to take seriously, if there isn't a single alteration they can approve here.

Even the Merrill Lynch proposal, which proposes to PRESERVE IT IN ITS ENTIRETY, is rejected because:

Quote:
"...the south tower would be idiosyncratic and would not respect the Bank of Commerce Building, making it appear tiny and insignificant..."
Well, *of course* the 1 story bank is going to appear "tiny and insignificant" as what is being built is a four-tower high rise development, FFS.

IMHO, the reason we've had such boring and unimaginative developments over the years-- the ones that got built anyways-- and nothing unique or creative or even marginally different, is because of these clowns promoting ideas like this; that anything "idiosyncratic" is bad and should not be approved.

I don't necessarily disagree with your suggestions, but I feel like we pretend there is some kind of chronic plague of facadism in this city, like we're being overrun by high rise developments, all running roughshod over heritage property and proliferating facadist strategies everywhere.

But we know this isn't true. What other examples of facadism do we have? Founders Square, ok. TD Tower? Not really. The new Waterside Centre? Erm. The Roy? Maybe, but it's not even built.

So, maybe two or three developments?

Certainly, facadism can be taken too far, but I just don't see that's happened at all in our city more generally, and not here, specifically.

I like the contrasts, and cantilever (which preserves the Merrill Lynch) and on the massing, we don't have anything to compare it with. As RyeJay pointed out, a set back requirement may make this development a no-go financially. I would rather an instance of facade preservation, than another 20 years of dead development. Things are happening now, because Heritage groups were finally reigned in by HRMxD, so I would prefer not genuflecting to the same crap in HAC that these folks used to spout in court challenging new DAs before HRMxD.

Now, I know Drybrain you're much more reasonable about heritage issues than the HAC crowd, but my views on these things are interminably colored by their past actions.

Last edited by counterfactual; Feb 2, 2014 at 9:48 PM.
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  #126  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2014, 10:27 PM
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The treatment of the Champlain Building is nice in terms of the restoration work
Actually I am not so sure about this.

One problem I have with heritage preservation in Halifax is that there are enormous blind spots for post-war development, organic changes to buildings after their original construction, and things that aren't as old or famous but are valued by locals because of their impact on the character of the city.

I don't think the ideal for Halifax is to restore as many buildings as possible back to their original appearance if it means erasing more recent history in the process. It's interesting that the Champlain Building has an extra 2 storeys, and it looks more imposing and urbane as a result. The Morse's Teas brick addition is similar. It's not original but it is absolutely a valuable heritage asset.

All that being said, I think the right attitude here is that the development needs some tweaks, not that City Hall should dig in its heels over a set of demands that are probably not all possible to satisfy.
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  #127  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2014, 10:42 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by fenwick16 View Post
The more I look at this proposal the more I enthusiastically want it to proceed. I am even starting to like the cantilevered section. I don't think that the design of the new sections should be muted to decrease the contrast between new and old. The Heritage Advisory Committee voting against it is a concern since the TD Tower was unanimously approved by the Heritage Advisory Committee.

Looking at one of several renderings posted previously, I think that the owner/developer is doing a good job of maintaining the heritage streetscape. The Champlain building facade will be restored to the way it was 100 years ago with arches over the lower windows and restored to the original height. The Bank of Commerce Building will be restored in its entirety.

If it proceeds, one other great benefit is that the Royal Bank Tower will be replaced with something much better, in my opinion. There will be several blocks of tall, impressive buildings in a dense cluster (TD Tower, Bank of Montreal, 1801 Hollis Street and 22nd Commerce Square).
here, here!
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  #128  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2014, 10:46 PM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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Yeah, I think you're right in this case--the height is already maxed out. (Personally, I'd be fine with the rules being amended to allow for extra height, but I doubt that'll happen.)
Amend what? The Citadel ramparts is the end of the road.

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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
But I don't think it's unreasonable to work with the developer to create a workaround, even if that means sacrificing a bit of space. These are listed buildings, and they were there first--heritage designations (and planning rules in general) have to have some teeth, otherwise we just end up in a situation where the rules are meaningless, being habitually altered to accommodate the whims of each and every different proposal that comes along.

Substantial alterations to heritage properties shouldn't just be fait accompli whenever they're proposed; they should be unusual, and executed with some architectural grace, which I think this proposal is somewhat lacking right now. Again, I want this to happen. I just want it to be better.
When Heritage Concerns Collide
Which chapter shall we read, the one about the Citadel Hill or the one on the downtown's old stock of buildings?

I like the girthy trend of our buildings, so the north tower of this proposal is nice to my eyes. The overhang of death from the south tower suffocates the Bank of Commerce Building.

The bank is small.... We all know this.
The significance of its heritage is not, though. Small buildings are allowed to have big impacts too. The White House in Washington, D.C. sure is tiny. And I bet if you wanted to build a cantilevered towered beside/on top of the White House: you'd see an opposition. Getting back to Halifax: without the Citadel ramparts, the developer would likely just avoid the old bank completely by building higher using a smaller floor plate. This isn't possible, though, so this proposal is left in this predicament.



I'll tell ya what...... I'd definitely trade the middle space between these two towers for the retracted cantilevered square footage. Modify this proposal into one tower to recover the lost space.
Let the Merrill Lynch beam, by maintaining its own standing amongst the other bank towers.
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  #129  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2014, 11:29 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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I don't necessarily disagree with your suggestions, but I feel like we pretend there is some kind of chronic plague of facadism in this city, like we're being overrun by high rise developments, all running roughshod over heritage property and proliferating facadist strategies everywhere.

But we know this isn't true. What other examples of facadism do we have? Founders Square, ok. TD Tower? Not really. The new Waterside Centre? Erm. The Roy? Maybe, but it's not even built.
Definitely the TD Tower, which involved the demolition of one building and the reduction of the Macara Barnstead to a couple of bits of brick and stone. Roy is also worse than facadism since it's actually a demolition. Plus Waterside, Sackville, Discovery Centre, and possibly even the Dennis and the Doyle block on Spring Garden (and that BMO building really can't be facaded, given its stepped-back shape and presence on that corner).

It's definitely become a go-to solution for balancing heritage and development, but it's often a cop-out. (Not always, however! Founders Square is okay, Waterside is decent, and the Sackville project might be really good.)

I think as well that if the financial viability of the project hinges on the modest reduction in space that better accommodating the existing structures would entail, then they're on a pretty razor-thin margin. In all likelihood something better can be worked out. I mean, if the choice is between no development and the project as proposed, I would probably go for what's proposed. But I'd very much like to see it improved.

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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post

I don't think the ideal for Halifax is to restore as many buildings as possible back to their original appearance if it means erasing more recent history in the process. It's interesting that the Champlain Building has an extra 2 storeys, and it looks more imposing and urbane as a result. The Morse's Teas brick addition is similar. It's not original but it is absolutely a valuable heritage asset.
This is true. I really like the Champlain's presence on that corner, and that it's six storeys rather than four has a lot to do with that. It's not an amazing building, architecturally, but it has a real urban heft to it. Same as the Roy, actually.
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  #130  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2014, 5:16 AM
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One thing that I think weakens the heritage elements in the proposal is way the spaces between the facades are filled in with generic, uniform glass boxes. It might work a lot better if instead each gap was filled in with something different and a bit bolder - basically tell the architects to aim for a similar level of detail/design quality as the buildings that are already there, but with a more contemporary style.

The street level on Hollis looks pretty dull, and it would be nice if they broke it up a bit somehow or had entrances along Hollis. One thing that I hadn't noticed until today though is what looks like a large cantilevered canopy at the bottom of the accordion section, it looks like it would stretch completely across the George St. sidewalk. Having something like that along the other sides of the building would improve the pedestrian experience in poor weather.

Finally I think replacing the accordion section with something a bit less wacky looking could be a good move. Right now it relates (IMO) really poorly with the existing bank, whereas if designed differently could make the existing building feel like a "part" of the overall 22CS block. Something with art deco design cues would bridge the gap (chronologically and stylistically) between the Bank of Commerce's style and the modernist panel above the accordion. Something sort of like the narrow ~10-12 storey bank buildings in downtown Winnipeg for example.

If this goes through (or even if it doesn't), it'll be interesting in a few years once a few more of these facade-incorporating projects have been built. With Founder's Square, Waterside, Espace, Discorvery Centre, Roy, TD, Sackville/Market, and potentially Commerce Court, a pretty substantial share of heritage properties downtown will have conspicuously modern additions on top, and conversely a large share of downtown's towers will have heritage facades at the base. This will (possibly moreso than in any other Canadian city) become a major defining feature in terms of Downtown Halifax's urban form and overall identity.
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  #131  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2014, 7:34 PM
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I intensely dislike the accordion base. The justification for it is that the upward facing surfaces will have solar panels (photovoltaic cells). The whole thing is dark glass to match the colour of the panels. I think it would make far more sense to locate the panels on the roof where they would receive unobstructed sunlight. At the very least a lighter colour or clear glass would make far more sense from a design point of view in my opinion. If this goes ahead as planned I can see it being included in one of those lists "weirdest architecture" or some such. The rest of the proposal I quite like. With Waterside and TD in the immediate neighbourhood, it's likely it will go ahead. Since the Heritage Property Act only controls building exteriors, and since the heritage building exteriors on this block are mainly facades (except the corner buildings which, it could be argued, have 3-d facades), the heritage debate is mainly about compatibility and scale and the loss of some historical materials (roofs).
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  #132  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 6:40 PM
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The Design Review Committee will decide the fate of this proposal on Thursday February 13th, 2014. Staff is recommending approval of all requested variances including the post-bonus height.

Substantial Site Plan Approval - Case 19046
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  #133  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 8:40 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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The Design Review Committee will decide the fate of this proposal on Thursday February 13th, 2014. Staff is recommending approval of all requested variances including the post-bonus height.

Substantial Site Plan Approval - Case 19046
Doesn't Council still need to approve?
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  #134  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2014, 11:23 PM
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Doesn't Council still need to approve?
I would like to know this also. The TD Bank expansion was approved through the Design Review Committee but then it required an HRM Council vote for substantial alteration to the heritage Macara Barnstead building.

Hopefully Waye Mason can answer this question. If the 22nd Commerce Square proposal passes the Design Review Committee does it then have to go through Council for a vote on substantial alterations to the heritage buildings?
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  #135  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2014, 12:19 AM
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You guys are correct. Regional Council still needs to approve the heritage alterations.

Quote:
"If the Design Review Committee approves the project, the decision of the Committee is subject to an appeal. If no appeals are received, the project cannot proceed to the permit and construction phases until a decision has been made by Regional Council on the substantial alterations to the five registered heritage buildings on the site, as required under the Heritage Property Act. If Regional Council approves the substantial alterations, the project would then proceed to the permitting and construction phase of the project."
Exert from the DRC report ; Substantial Site Plan Approval - Case #19046 (Page 4)
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  #136  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2014, 12:25 AM
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You guys are correct. Regional Council still needs to approve the heritage alterations.



Exert from the DRC report ; Substantial Site Plan Approval - Case #19046 (Page 4)
Thanks for taking the time to read through the document, Dmajackson.
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  #137  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2014, 12:36 AM
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You guys are correct. Regional Council still needs to approve the heritage alterations.



Exert from the DRC report ; Substantial Site Plan Approval - Case #19046 (Page 4)
Ditto. Many thanks, as usual, DJ.
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  #138  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2014, 3:12 AM
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This was approved by DRC by vote this evening.

The accordion part is gone, as part of passing.
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  #139  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2014, 3:16 AM
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This was approved by DRC by vote this evening.

The accordion part is gone, as part of passing.
That is great news. I am looking forward to seeing an updated rendering. I think the accordion detail was a bit too much, but now there is little to dislike about this proposal.

I hope that it moves forward. Next step HRM Council.
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  #140  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2014, 3:25 AM
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That is great news. I am looking forward to seeing an updated rendering. I think the accordion detail was a bit too much, but now there is little to dislike about this proposal.

I hope that it moves forward. Next step HRM Council.
Agreed; I thought the accordion was interesting, but made things a bit noisy. Not going to die if it goes.
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