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  #81  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2014, 10:15 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Nilan8888 View Post
My thinking is that, looking at the current design, what is the first, gut reaction. For this it seems to have been negative. Or rather, negative concerning the south tower. I think the North Tower is totally fine, of course.

It's not that cantilever design is bad -- it works great on the library -- it's that here it looks just obvious and awkward. It conveys the message "we totally would have built something more symmetrical, but this other building was in the way".

I'm certainly open to design improvements. But if so many people's first gut reaction to this is negative, dollars to doughnuts that's what most people's reaction is going to be. And most are not going to say "wow, what a bold, daring design", they're more like to say, "wow, that looks really different... and rediculous."

It'll stick out in people's memory, but for the wrong reasons.
One last point: I don't mind asymmetry. In fact, I welcome it to our family of towers downtown. Most of our buildings are all very similar: rectangular towers and, because of height restrictions and (ZZzzzzZ) view planes, many of them not very tall, so we even have this symmetrical "counter top" skyline, to an extent, when seen from afar.

Of course, this won't change the counter-top, but it would certainly bring some variation to designs around there. Another rectangular tower using facadism for heritage preservation is innovative for Halifax (because we haven't actually been building anything downtown for 20 years) but it's certainly not innovative or interesting more generally.
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  #82  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 2:17 AM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
Sigh. What level of government? Province, I'm guessing?

Seriously, how many ugly, crappy, dilapidated, abandoned lots are still owned by various levels of government downtown? And how did we not rage before at bureaucrats/politicians to get off their sorry lazy butts to sell these plots for the benefit of downtown and, most importantly, citizens?

And most importantly, why isn't that parcel of land on the block *today*? Seriously. Why? Am I missing something? Is it just a matter of the relevant government official getting around to doing the paper work?
The block on Granville across from Province House that includes One Government Place and the Dennis Bldg is owned by the province. They had plans at one point to redevelop the entire thing into office space that in general design terms looked like OGP on the exterior and in fact connected to that building. I believe they were counting on demolishing the existing structures in order to create a substantial amount of underground parking to get cars out of the area in and around Province House, which now is probably not in the cards. They were also going to close Granville and make that some sort of public space to also help better showcase Province House.

Don't hold your breath for any of that now.
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  #83  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 3:12 AM
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I remember seeing the rendering for the office building that was planned when those buildings were torn down around 1990. Not sure if I still have it.

It's too bad there are no plausible prospects for developing this block right now. It drags down the look of the whole area, along with the parking on the north grounds of Province House. The contrast will be even more jarring once the TD redevelopment is complete and if the Royal Bank building is redeveloped.
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  #84  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 5:20 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
The block on Granville across from Province House that includes One Government Place and the Dennis Bldg is owned by the province. They had plans at one point to redevelop the entire thing into office space that in general design terms looked like OGP on the exterior and in fact connected to that building. I believe they were counting on demolishing the existing structures in order to create a substantial amount of underground parking to get cars out of the area in and around Province House, which now is probably not in the cards. They were also going to close Granville and make that some sort of public space to also help better showcase Province House.

Don't hold your breath for any of that now.
Thanks for some great info, Keith.

How many years back were those plans? 5-10years ago? Or more recent, under the NDP government?

Seems to me the Provincial Government, moreso than any other level of government, is the biggest offender for sitting idly by on prime real estate downtown, doing nothing.

Given that the Province is constantly bleating about deficits and debts, you'd think that generating revenue by selling off some prime real estate for private development would be a no brainer, the same way the City does. The only explanation I can come up with for why this doesn't happen, was simply a product of provincial politics, which has, up until maybe the last 10 years, been largely rurally oriented; basically, most provincial governments (particularly Conservative and Liberal ones) were elected in rural Nova Scotia. So no one really cared about a vacant lot in downtown Halifax, and even if they did, it was some "locals who voted NDP anyways". Halifax, finally, is on the map, because it's nearing 50% of the province's population. It's nearly impossible to elect a government without Halifax. Perhaps we'll see more activism from this government, hoping to solidify seats it took from the NDP in Halifax, for hereon.

But yeah, I'm not holding my breath...

(At the very least, provincial *corporations* like the Waterfront Dev Corp is finally moving, having hired Andy Filmore last year (I believe it was 2013))
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  #85  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 5:22 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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I remember seeing the rendering for the office building that was planned when those buildings were torn down around 1990. Not sure if I still have it.

It's too bad there are no plausible prospects for developing this block right now. It drags down the look of the whole area, along with the parking on the north grounds of Province House. The contrast will be even more jarring once the TD redevelopment is complete and if the Royal Bank building is redeveloped.
If you can find the plans, someone, post them for sure. Interested to see.

Completely agree -- once TD and this development is done (however it looks in the end) hopefully there will be even more pressure to do something with the land. Imagine an ugly empty trashy lot in downtown Toronto near First Canadian Place and the TD tower.
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  #86  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 3:19 PM
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If you can find the plans, someone, post them for sure. Interested to see.

Completely agree -- once TD and this development is done (however it looks in the end) hopefully there will be even more pressure to do something with the land. Imagine an ugly empty trashy lot in downtown Toronto near First Canadian Place and the TD tower.
I don't know exactly how recent this is, but various iterations of it seem to keep cropping up through the years. A sort of gentle facadectomy of the Dennis and wrap-around development on the adjacent empty lots.

Comes from this larger doc featuring reports, etc., about the site.
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  #87  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 3:37 PM
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Counterfact:

I would prefer that pillar design shown. I'm not certain if they have the room for that, but if they could pull off something like that, I'd prefer it to the current design.

What might work best, if they could pull it off, would be to just have something attached to the roof of the BOC. Maybe some sort of enclosed, transaparent or semi-transparent glass space that runs from the BOC roof up to around the point where the cantilever would begin, and stretch out that cantilever so that it aligns completely over the BOC (which will then be supported by pillars/beams that reach up from the BOC roof). So the office space you get out of it is just as much, if not more, but it's a more cohesive structure.

I dunno, I'm not an architect or engineer and I wouldn't know how to get it to work or know if the BOC would support that sort of weight (even if it was only holding up half the tower), but I think it would just be better to have something that would look (and be) more cohesive while giving you the same general effect of usable office space.
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  #88  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 6:11 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
If you can find the plans, someone, post them for sure. Interested to see.

Completely agree -- once TD and this development is done (however it looks in the end) hopefully there will be even more pressure to do something with the land. Imagine an ugly empty trashy lot in downtown Toronto near First Canadian Place and the TD tower.
THIS DOCUMENT outlines what I recall. The Dennis Building remains a problem regardless, and in reality should just be demolished given its many issues, but this concept would address many of the issues.
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  #89  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 7:56 PM
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The Dennis Building remains a problem regardless, and in reality should just be demolished given its many issues.
On the contrary, that'd severely diminish an already diminished block, and eliminate one of the largest and most storied historical buildings in town.

The Dennis, IMO, should remain the dominant structure on the block. Some blocks are ripe for clearance and redevelopment with new, modern landmarks, but this one requires a more sensitive approach. What's there is too valuable. Development here should be a matter of making the new development work within that existing context. (But you knew I would say that.)
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  #90  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 8:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
THIS DOCUMENT outlines what I recall. The Dennis Building remains a problem regardless, and in reality should just be demolished given its many issues, but this concept would address many of the issues.
What should be done with this block is completely restore the Dennis Building and infill the remainder of the lot with similar architecture. (12-15fl.)Otherwise, we will end up with an eyesore like One Government Place. (good materials-boring 80's Hfx. local architect design)

One Government Place:
https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Halifa...78.68,,0,-5.05
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  #91  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 9:09 PM
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We've hashed out the Dennis Bldg here before and it is a totally unsuitable building for present-day use. That is why the document I posted from 2007 calls for facadism. But even that would be tough because the floor heights are too low and so the fenestration would be totally out of whack. Really, at some point you have to say that even though it is a really nice old example of a buggy-whip factory, it cannot be re-purposed to build rocket ships, and needs to go away.
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  #92  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 9:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
We've hashed out the Dennis Bldg here before and it is a totally unsuitable building for present-day use. That is why the document I posted from 2007 calls for facadism. But even that would be tough because the floor heights are too low and so the fenestration would be totally out of whack. Really, at some point you have to say that even though it is a really nice old example of a buggy-whip factory, it cannot be re-purposed to build rocket ships, and needs to go away.
You probably don't like SoHo...

SoHo NYC:
https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=SoHo,+...27.55,,0,-22.5
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  #93  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 9:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
We've hashed out the Dennis Bldg here before and it is a totally unsuitable building for present-day use. That is why the document I posted from 2007 calls for facadism. But even that would be tough because the floor heights are too low and so the fenestration would be totally out of whack.
I don't where this ceiling height issue comes from--the floor to ceiling height is 12 feet, identical to the Gooderham (Flatiron) Building in Toronto, which contains some of the most expensive and desirable Class B office real estate in Canada. There are zillions of repurposed older buildings with a similar ceiling height.

It wouldn't qualify for Class A space, but so what? Residential, institutional, or, gasp, Class B office space are all possibilities here. I've never heard a preservation/demolition debate hinging on ceiling height like this one. It's seems like a weird red herring to fixate on (especially when the recommended height is merely one foot taller).

The interior air quality is a much more significant concern. I'm not arguing that the building needs some major renos--a total gutting inside, probably. But the shell is extremely valuable, and perfectly serviceable for new uses.

And besides, the report suggests that "restoration can be cost equivalent or less expensive that new construction." Of course, we won't know unless a more detailed report is carried out, but the financials don't initially seem to be at all prohibitive for preservation. Demolition should be off the table in this case.

Anyway, off topic, I guess...
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  #94  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 9:41 PM
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The preliminary presentation to the Design Review Committee for this project will be next week. They've provided this very detailed document (warning it's 90 pages long!!).

Preliminary Presentation - Site Plan Approval Process - 22nd Commerce Square

I read a good chunk of the document and while I still have reservations concerning the south tower (the overhang and the accordion section) I have more optimism for how this will turn out. The street level appears to be excellent and I am excited to hear more about the central atrium building. One thing that hasn't been mentioned but is interesting is the parking situation. There will be three levels under most of the site BUT due to economics they will be introduced stacked, high density parking to be used by the valet service at the hotel and condos. This roughly doubles the spaces created per floor. Also they are targetting L.E.E.D. ceritfication so there will be the already known accordion solar panels, roof-top solar panels (for hot water heating), rain water collection system for use in the buildings' plumbing, a high number of bicycle parking spaces, a wider sidewalk on Hollis Street, and some new street trees.
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  #95  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2014, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
We've hashed out the Dennis Bldg here before and it is a totally unsuitable building for present-day use. That is why the document I posted from 2007 calls for facadism. But even that would be tough because the floor heights are too low and so the fenestration would be totally out of whack. Really, at some point you have to say that even though it is a really nice old example of a buggy-whip factory, it cannot be re-purposed to build rocket ships, and needs to go away.
Could the building be reused for a residential purpose? Does that change the code requirements at all? I agree with your point - if it can't be repurposed, then perhaps the facade should be retained and a new building included - but complete demolition isn't really a good idea imo.
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  #96  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2014, 12:19 AM
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Could the building be reused for a residential purpose? Does that change the code requirements at all? I agree with your point - if it can't be repurposed, then perhaps the facade should be retained and a new building included - but complete demolition isn't really a good idea imo.
Like I posted above, the building is totally suitable for contemporary residential/institutional/office uses. The only thing it's un-suited to is Class A office space. The report Keith linked to doesn't dispute that at all. It just needs significant TLC (which that report also suggested would cost less than a demolition and new structure).
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  #97  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2014, 1:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
Like I posted above, the building is totally suitable for contemporary residential/institutional/office uses. The only thing it's un-suited to is Class A office space. The report Keith linked to doesn't dispute that at all. It just needs significant TLC (which that report also suggested would cost less than a demolition and new structure).
It's also a heritage building that adds context to one of the most historic and culturally significant parts of the city. Its fate shouldn't be decided strictly by looking at the cheapest possible development option.

I think tearing down the Dennis Building would be a huge mistake.
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  #98  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2014, 2:34 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
I don't know exactly how recent this is, but various iterations of it seem to keep cropping up through the years. A sort of gentle facadectomy of the Dennis and wrap-around development on the adjacent empty lots.

Comes from this larger doc featuring reports, etc., about the site.
I see, as usual, HRM is *so* good at commissioning reports and "approving" the report and plan.

And then... nothing.

I see there was a RFP way back in 2005. Whatever happened to that?

Another plan, another approval, and Council and nothing done to follow up.

Could someone ping Waye, and have him raise this at Council?
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  #99  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2014, 2:58 AM
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Like I posted above, the building is totally suitable for contemporary residential/institutional/office uses. The only thing it's un-suited to is Class A office space. The report Keith linked to doesn't dispute that at all. It just needs significant TLC (which that report also suggested would cost less than a demolition and new structure).
I think it's a beautiful building and it's outrageous that the Province has let it go so much, such that it's basically inhabitable, with mould, water leaks, and other basic problems:

https://www.heritagecanada.org/en/is...ennis-building

Honestly, at this point, we can't trust the lecherous Provincial Government to do anything about the building, probably only let it go further down the drain. It certainly won't commit any money to the City to restore it.

So wouldn't the best answer be to sell it to a private developer, via an RFP that invites proposals to restore the building. And if it can't be properly structurally restored, why not a development along the lines of the RBC Waterside? Yes, it is facadism, but it looks fantastic, and something similar here would certainly improve matters.

Otherwise, it's going to sit a vacant lot and a dying building.
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  #100  
Old Posted Jan 3, 2014, 3:06 AM
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I think it's a beautiful building and it's outrageous that the Province has let it go so much, such that it's basically inhabitable, with mould, water leaks, and other basic problems:
Yep. It's pretty absurd that they've surrounded it with scaffolding to catch loose bits of masonry, rather than actually repair the thing properly. The worst of the mould has been removed, and employees are again working in the building, but I've been inside the lobby since they re-opened it--it still smells stuffy and mildewy. No wonder people are so willing to say "demolish it". But it's not the building; it's the horrible caretaking.
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