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  #21  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 1:43 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post


I love this stuff, but I don't think some like that is possible in Halifax right now, as the economics just don't work.

In Toronto, you have the sky high property value and the intense levels of density, such that you can have a shorter restored heritage building and easily find high end tenants like "trendy" restaurants, specialty shops, or small but high yield business/finance outfits.

Those restaurants and specialty shops survive because surrounding the 7 storey restored heritage building on three sides are 28+ storey skyscrapers, and comparable levels of density a short walk or subway ride away.

In Halifax you don't have those kinds of options in clients, you don't have the density, and you don't have the property values.

I think eventually we will, but to get there, we need developments like this, to bring more high end businesses back downtown, bring prestige back to doing business in the core. Part of that, is working in an office that is the "talk of the town".
Wouldn't it work the other way? That the intense real-estate value in downtown Toronto would make it unfeasible to preserve small buildings (this developer doesn't have an adjacent tower or anything--it's just this building). You can get higher-end clients, and there's a greater density of customers for a business, but the real-estate values are far, far higher as well. (The thing at the bottom of the Dineen building is just a coffee shop...lotsa business people, given the location, but I still don't imagine a coffee shop is paying for the building).

You see this in other cities too, that was just one example. Heck, look at Barrington Espace, or the NFB project, or the Lynch building on this site. I think with a project of Commerce Square's size, the other buildings could be more fully integrated at a reasonable cost. (Granted, I'm not an expert on these matters. But judging from what I've seen locally and elsewhere...)
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  #22  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 1:50 PM
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Gah, that accordion bit is heinous. I quite like everything above it though!

The overhang, while interesting from a technical perspective, really does a big disservice to the Merrill Lynch building and to heritage in general. Rather than showing heritage off as something that can be tastefully integrated into a living city, this overhang design treats it like it's some sort of gross inconvenience that needs to be awkwardly avoided.

This would be a very prominent development, so hopefully we see some significant tweaks before it gets built. I do have faith in Lydon Lynch.
I agree. Lose the overhang and add five storeys to the main commercial tower. Lose the roof connection trim at the same time. Let's take some squat out of this and build a dominant tower while showing off one of the finest buildings in the city (Merrill). The Merrill Lynch building should be a dominant grand lobby to the tower and the roof top garden will get lots of sun once the overhang or is that "hanghover" is axed!
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  #23  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 2:13 PM
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Gah, that accordion bit is heinous. I quite like everything above it though!

The overhang, while interesting from a technical perspective, really does a big disservice to the Merrill Lynch building and to heritage in general. Rather than showing heritage off as something that can be tastefully integrated into a living city, this overhang design treats it like it's some sort of gross inconvenience that needs to be awkwardly avoided.

This would be a very prominent development, so hopefully we see some significant tweaks before it gets built. I do have faith in Lydon Lynch.
Now see, I completely disagree about the cantilever. I think it is a very elegant way of showing off the Merrill Lynch building. I can just picture that empty space all lit up at night. It would look amazing.

I'm still not sure about the accordion corner. I agree that it does help to anchor that side of the building, but it is still awkward and clunky.

What I am most upset with however is that there is no effort to preserve the more modernist facade that now houses Turner and Drake on Granville st. While it may not be as old as some of the other buildings on this block, it is a unique part of our built heritage that is worth preserving.

You can see it here: https://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&ll...26.8,,0,-29.67
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  #24  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 3:05 PM
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The overhang is popular in New York where you can sell air space above a building.

I wonder if the overhang allows for windows on Granville? If the building were to go straight up from Merrill then it would be considered to be at the property line and the fire code may not permit windows at that location. This may be why there are no windows overlooking the rooftop garden.
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Last edited by Empire; Sep 25, 2013 at 5:06 PM.
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  #25  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 3:54 PM
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Not a fan. Looks like the architect was trying too hard. I figure even I could come up with something that compliments the old bank building. It's no Wren but it is one of the cities nicer remnants.
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  #26  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 4:04 PM
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I wish we'd see a little less redevelopment of large existing buildings and more infill on empty lots downtown.
Are there any remaining empty lots in the downtown on which a 500,000 ft2 development could occur?

When the Cogswell Interchange comes down, then perhaps.
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  #27  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 10:38 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
Wouldn't it work the other way? That the intense real-estate value in downtown Toronto would make it unfeasible to preserve small buildings (this developer doesn't have an adjacent tower or anything--it's just this building). You can get higher-end clients, and there's a greater density of customers for a business, but the real-estate values are far, far higher as well. (The thing at the bottom of the Dineen building is just a coffee shop...lotsa business people, given the location, but I still don't imagine a coffee shop is paying for the building).

You see this in other cities too, that was just one example. Heck, look at Barrington Espace, or the NFB project, or the Lynch building on this site. I think with a project of Commerce Square's size, the other buildings could be more fully integrated at a reasonable cost. (Granted, I'm not an expert on these matters. But judging from what I've seen locally and elsewhere...)
Yeah, I think the higher property values led to more "efficient" uses of land; as in, bigger developments. But I just think that the choice of foregoing a big development in Toronto to restore and preserve a smaller heritage building is *still* not only affordable, but you can make plenty money on it, as you can get high end clients and get, you know, $50/square foot.

The owners not choosing to build up, are probably smaller beans and don't have the capital you would need for a major development. So they stay small, but they're still able to make plenty of money in Toronto. You can't really do that in Halifax right now, outside of a few exceptions. That's why the core and so many of our neighborhoods have suffered for so long. There just isn't the density to support so many kinds of local business or even banking (ie Gottingen North End).

I think for Halifax, we can have a few E-spaces and NFB developments around the core, but we also need some bigger works to bring more prestige to downtown work, to bring biz back to the core for both living and working, and so also significantly increasing residential density. NFB and E-Space are *not* going to fix the blasted ruin that is Barrington street. They need to be complemented by projects that offer more intense density infill.
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  #28  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2013, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post

I think for Halifax, we can have a few E-spaces and NFB developments around the core, but we also need some bigger works to bring more prestige to downtown work, to bring biz back to the core for both living and working, and so also significantly increasing residential density. NFB and E-Space are *not* going to fix the blasted ruin that is Barrington street. They need to be complemented by bigger more intense density infill.
Oh, I agree. And I think this can be one of those bigger developments, but I'd just like it to be redesigned to be a BIT more sensitive to the existing building stock. Here's a thoughtful piece from Toronto Star urban-affairs writer Christoper Hume on the whole thing. (In spite of that thing I posted above, facadism is all over the place in Toronto, sometimes well done, sometimes comically bad, but definitely over-used in place of fuller retention.)

EDIT: Here's also an older, angrier, more staunchly anti-facadism article from the same writer.
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  #29  
Old Posted Sep 26, 2013, 12:08 AM
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I fear that the Champlain building facade will end up looking something like the one stuck on to Bay-Adelaide. If it's done well though it could look great.

I like Hume's point about the specific merits of the buildings, e.g. the fact that ACC worked because the carvings on the outside of the old building accounted for most of its value. Buildings like that are the best candidates for facadism. The former CIBC building is not one of those and thankfully the plan is to save the interior.

I'm never very convinced by arguments about how heritage restorations aren't viable in Halifax. I think either there's a demand for development and space or there isn't, and if there is then there's a way to make preservation work. This is clearly true in Halifax given the new construction happening. The only real reason why we don't see more preservation is that it would be less profitable for private interests. This may or may not be a sufficient reason but it's important to see it for what it is and to have a public discussion about the value of these buildings.
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  #30  
Old Posted Sep 26, 2013, 1:08 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
Oh, I agree. And I think this can be one of those bigger developments, but I'd just like it to be redesigned to be a BIT more sensitive to the existing building stock. Here's a thoughtful piece from Toronto Star urban-affairs writer Christoper Hume on the whole thing. (In spite of that thing I posted above, facadism is all over the place in Toronto, sometimes well done, sometimes comically bad, but definitely over-used in place of fuller retention.)

EDIT: Here's also an older, angrier, more staunchly anti-facadism article from the same writer.
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I fear that the Champlain building facade will end up looking something like the one stuck on to Bay-Adelaide. If it's done well though it could look great.

I like Hume's point about the specific merits of the buildings, e.g. the fact that ACC worked because the carvings on the outside of the old building accounted for most of its value. Buildings like that are the best candidates for facadism. The former CIBC building is not one of those and thankfully the plan is to save the interior.

I'm never very convinced by arguments about how heritage restorations aren't viable in Halifax. I think either there's a demand for development and space or there isn't, and if there is then there's a way to make preservation work. This is clearly true in Halifax given the new construction happening. The only real reason why we don't see more preservation is that it would be less profitable for private interests. This may or may not be a sufficient reason but it's important to see it for what it is and to have a public discussion about the value of these buildings.
More often than not, I find myself agreeing with things both of you post on this forum. But on even this, reasonable people can disagree.

I appreciate the Hume piece, but I think we all have to agree that facadism is inevitable in any growing city. The question is only, how much of it we are willing to tolerate.

Arguably, it's a nice debate to have, given how truly awful Halifax/HRM has been at promoting (1) promoting any kind of worthwhile and sustained development and density downtown over the last 30 years and (2) preserving heritage assets, beyond blocking all profitable developments and letting heritage buildings, through neglect, basically rot.

This is where I think 22 Commerce Square is a nice compromise, better than most of the developments Hume mentions. In fact, yes, this has facadism, but it also goes out of its way to preserve the Merrill Lynch building in its entirety, and does so by using a pretty unique looking architectural design. I love the cantilever look.
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  #31  
Old Posted Sep 26, 2013, 4:33 PM
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One thing I haven't seen anyone mention is the media coverage - I thought overall it was quite good. CBC (which has been all up in the grill of Nova Centre) actually gave this a very good slant and global/ctv were pretty fair.

Global's coverage

CBC's coverage (at 10:00)
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  #32  
Old Posted Sep 26, 2013, 5:38 PM
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The media response has been great! I just hope enough criticism can get through this sphere of positivity to stimulate at least a partial design revision.
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  #33  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2013, 9:22 PM
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The accordion section is SO damn ugly!

It would look much better if they just carried the cladding that's on the upper section down to the ground. Or maybe continue the open, high walled glass atrium (along Hollis and up George) all around the front butting against the CIBC building that would be ideal.

I think it would help to highlight the CIBC (ML) building and showcase it.
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  #34  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2013, 9:51 PM
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If they aren't going to make the 2 buildings somewhat similar, then why not make them totally different. The design may be to differentiate between uses within the building as there is to be office, hotel and apartments in this, I believe. This may be the reason for the various architectural styles. I wouldn't mind seeing the "accordion" style on the entire building as I think it would be much more a new dramatic design. This would be ideal for an office or hotel that wouldn't need balconies.
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  #35  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2013, 1:24 AM
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Weird. The towers themselves look good to me, and I kind of like the atrium between them, but I'm not sure what they're thinking on the lower levels. The glass block under one is your typical glazed box and the 'accordion' seems completely unrelated to the rest.

As far as preservation goes I'm not into this execution. Dangling over the Merrill Lynch building is kind of cool in an I, Robot kind of way but I feel like it makes it look cheap at the same time. Just look at how silly that lone facade on Granville looks for example.
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  #36  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2013, 1:39 AM
Nifta Nifta is offline
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What a horrendous carbuncle
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  #37  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2013, 5:40 PM
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I also do not like the "accordion" section or how the building hangs over Merrill's. But the other section of the building, looking North is very nice.
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  #38  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2013, 1:15 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Weird. The towers themselves look good to me, and I kind of like the atrium between them, but I'm not sure what they're thinking on the lower levels. The glass block under one is your typical glazed box and the 'accordion' seems completely unrelated to the rest.

As far as preservation goes I'm not into this execution. Dangling over the Merrill Lynch building is kind of cool in an I, Robot kind of way but I feel like it makes it look cheap at the same time. Just look at how silly that lone facade on Granville looks for example.
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What a horrendous carbuncle
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I also do not like the "accordion" section or how the building hangs over Merrill's. But the other section of the building, looking North is very nice.
The accordion is a little much, but I think the overhang is awesome.

Check out this listing of "The Best New Buildings" in New York City, and you could easily find this design and development comparable to those:

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/1...the_decade.php

Or this one, for "Best New Buildings of 2011" also, NYC.

http://observer.com/2011/12/the-desi...cture-of-2011/

Finally, Halifax is thinking bigger, bolder, and more creatively.

Last edited by counterfactual; Oct 2, 2013 at 1:37 AM.
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  #39  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2013, 1:51 AM
RyeJay RyeJay is offline
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The accordion is a little much, but I think the overhang is awesome.
The overhang diminishes the visual appeal of the old bank because they are the same colour. The contrast is destroyed. Merrill's is not showcased. The arrangement looks wretched.
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  #40  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2013, 3:48 AM
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The overhang diminishes the visual appeal of the old bank because they are the same colour. The contrast is destroyed. Merrill's is not showcased. The arrangement looks wretched.
Colouring could be easily remedied. I think the cantilever design is striking and it's nice that it allows the Merrill Lynch building to remain fully intact.
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