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Issue No. 170 | January 10, 2011

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Feature Stories

  1. What a Start to the New Year!
  2. Demolition Application Received for 7 Austin Terrace
  3. Building History: The Archives of Ontario
  4. Orleans EMC: ICCROM Honours Herb Stovel
  5. RIBA: Steven Holl Speaks at Acceptance of Jencks Award

Events

Heritage Resources Centre Lunch and Learn Series Winter 2011

+ read


"Food Scarcity in Riverdale - Then and Now"
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
+ read


Conserving the Modern training course
Wednesday February 23rd and Thursday February 24th, 2011
+ read


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1. What a Start to the New Year!
Catherine Nasmith, editor

The bad news of the Empress Hotel fire on Yonge Street has had a silver lining of sorts. 

In all ten years I have been watching the media on heritage news I have never seen a heritage story that held the spotlight for over a week. Alma College, a much bigger disaster, hardly had a mention outside of St. Thomas. All the major media has had this story on the front pages for five days now. It is hard to get coverage before disaster strikes, but now that it has, we have the moment to get our message out to the public.

Lloyd Alter the current President of ACO and I have had our phones ringing off the hook. 

Now would be a good time to contact politicians at every level and ask them what they are going  to do to make sure such situations don't develop again, in Toronto or anywhere else in Canada.

The key points are:

The 2005 Ontario Heritage Act is strong, but we need political will and adequate resources to take advantage of its powers. 

We need carrots, financial incentives for property owners, to go along with the sticks. 

 

 


2. Demolition Application Received for 7 Austin Terrace
Barbara Holt forwarded by Geoff Ketel

Responding to an inquiry from Wade Tam, Barbara Holt responded in an email as follows:

"Heritage Preservation Services received an Application to Demolish a Designated Structure for the above-mentioned property. At is meeting on January 26/27, 2010 City Council included this property on the City's Inventory of Heritage Properties and stated its intention to designate this property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.


The Ontario Heritage Act requires the owner of a property designated under Part IV of the Act to provide 90 days notice to the City of his or her intention to demolish the property. Heritage Preservation Services staff are in the process of assessing this demolition application.


Please do not issue any demolition permits for this property until HPS has completed its assessment.


If you have any questions on this demolition application your contact is Scott Barrett, Senior Preservation Co-ordinator, 338-1083, or sbarret3@toronto.ca
Thank you.


Barbara Holt
Administrative Assistant
Heritage Preservation Services
Policy & Research, City Planning
100 Queen Street West
2nd Floor, Ste. A18
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
416-338-1076
416-392-1973 (Fax)

Editor's Note:
Good grief. It will be interesting to see how the OMB responds, if the City refuses to issue the demolition permit. It will also be interesting to see how Rob Ford as Mayor responds to the application to demolish. This was the one case where the Minister of Culture, Aileen Carroll intervened in response to a request for assistance from former Mayor David Miller, by issuing a stop order against the developer's ongoing demolition. That order gave the City a chance to act, but it would seem the designation process has not yet been completed. One presumes that the Ministerial stop order has expired. Another example of the City not having sufficient resources to deal with heritage preservation.


3. Building History: The Archives of Ontario
Jenny Prior-Ontario Archives

Exploring the Archives of Ontario’s collections is a great way to learn about the history of the province and its people. Our architectural records are among our richest holdings. We have close to 200,000 drawings and other items that help tell the story of Ontario’s architectural heritage.

The Archives’ J. C. B. and E. C. Horwood collection is perhaps the largest and most significant group of architectural records in Canada. With its almost 33,000 drawings, the collection gives incredible insight into our architectural history, the recordkeeping practices of architects and their firms, and the development of architecture as a practice in Ontario.

Architectural drawings for some of our most celebrated buildings are in the collection, including Osgoode Hall, St. James Cathedral and Victoria College. Also fascinating are the preliminary and presentation drawings for structures that never got built, but were related to proposals or competitions.

Eric Horwood, senior partner in the firm Horwood and White, initially donated the records in six stages between 1978 and 1981. The firm had been accumulating the collection for over 100 years, reflecting the period between 1750 and 1975. Between 2002 and 2010, additional donations have been made by Eric Horwood’s son, James R. Horwood.

Part of what makes the collection such an amazing resource is its scope. A total of 78 architects and firms are included. It features the work of innovators like Frederic B. Cumberland, Edmund Burke and Henry Langley. And it depicts a wide variety of building types, including schools, churches, department stores, bridges, and private residences.

The early architects of the Horwood collection took a leading role in establishing architecture as a formal profession. Up until the mid-19th century, North American architectural study was confined to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It wasn’t until 1889 that Toronto saw any formal architecture training facility. By this time, these architects had worked tirelessly to introduce educational programs in their offices, as well as develop standards and set criteria that were recognized by the province. They had also started professional organizations like the Ontario Association of Architects.

In addition to the drawings, the Horwood collection has maps, photographs, portfolios, letters, contracts and ledgers, advertising brochures, and artefacts. These items help give context and deepen our understanding of architectural practice throughout the decades.

Thanks to a recent re-processing project, the collection is more accessible to researchers than ever before. And very shortly, a full list of the collection’s records will be available online.

To learn more about the Archives of Ontario’s Horwood collection, visit us in person at our new facility on York University’s Keele campus, or online at http://www.archives.gov.on.ca.


4. Call for Abstracts and Proposals:14th International Conference of National Trusts
Heritage Canada Release

Co-hosted by Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF)
And The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC)

Connecting People, Places and Stories:
New Strategies for Conservation in a Changing World.

October 12 - 16 2011
Victoria, British Columbia
The Fairmont Empress and Victoria Conference Centre

In 2011, the Heritage Canada Foundation’s 38th annual national conference will join forces with the first International Conference of National Trusts held in Canada. Conference delegates will have special access to the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI) 2011 conference also
co-located at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Victoria Conference Centre.

The 14th International Conference of National Trusts will focus on building connections and sharing experiences to help organizations, communities and individuals charged with caring for special places meet the new challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Conference sessions will explore new approaches to the protection of special places as well as the stories, traditions, languages and cultures that give them meaning. A key conference goal will be to identify innovative ways to successfully engage people and communities in this work.

Abstracts and proposals for presentations, field sessions and poster sessions are encouraged in the following thematic areas:

1. Connecting and Mobilizing People
International case studies and best practices will feature emerging technologies in heritage education, public awareness and youth engagement, and illustrate the role special places play in civic engagement, identity and nation-building, and social and economic development.

2. Protecting Places, Stories and Traditions
Historic places face increasing pressure to be relevant, to serve new uses and to attract tourist dollars. New interest in intangible heritage – traditions, stories, local knowledge – will challenge our thinking and open the door to new audiences. Organizers are seeking cases and success stories that respond to these emerging trends and opportunities.

3. The Business of Heritage Conservation
The way visitors, members and donors connect with historic places is changing. Heritage organizations are finding new ways to leverage financial resources, engage supporters, and attract corporate partnerships. This track will explore new strategies for management, governance, fundraising, member development and more.

4. Climate Change and Heritage Conservation
Climate change is destroying natural ecosystems, damaging heritage sites, compromising traditional cultural practices, and displacing entire communities. It is also challenging historic places to be models of environmentally sustainable practice. This track will explore leading edge responses to climate change where heritage conservation is part of the solution.

Submissions should include:
· Title and type of presentation proposed
· Conference theme(s) addressed
· Approx. 250-word summary
· Name(s) and contact information

Deadline for submissions: January 7, 2011

To submit your proposal, or for more information: conference@heritagecanada.org
http://www.heritagecanada.org/eng/conference.html Tel: 613-237-1066; Fax: 613-237-5987


5. CBU Housing/Heritage Project Needs Your Vote to Get $25,000
Joyce Rankin

GLACE BAY – Over the next 18 months, a vacant, circa-1895 company house near downtown Glace Bay will be turned into a 21st-century model of green, affordable, durable housing and heritage conservation.

It’s called the 7-3-4 Restoration Project (this was once Dominion Coal Company House #734). It’s a Cape Breton University applied-research project, in collaboration with Nova Scotia Community College, local organizations, private donors, local tradespeople, and other partners, including ICOMOS Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

But we need your vote!

This exciting, practical project is competing for a grant – decided by voting -- of $25,000 through the “Refresh Everything” funding program (Pepsi Canada). Voting is on-line, once a day through January and February. All fund-raised dollars will go directly to rehabilitating the home.

You can support this project with your vote by going on-line to http://www.refresheverything.ca/homematchcapebreton .

The home is being donated for the project. It was purchased at a recent CBRM tax sale by a CBU faculty member with the purpose of handing it over, gratis, to allow this demonstration to happen.

The home had been in the same family for more than a century. It is within walking distance of all amenities and transit, on an already-fully serviced urban lot. This makes housing at this location more sustainable than in a new subdivision on the outskirts of town. Staff members of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have inventoried more than 700 vacant homes in the region.

Some of the on-site work gets underway this week.

Many residents have already supported the project by purchasing a framed print for $35, showing the home as local artist Diane Lawrence imagines it will look when renovated. A recent community meeting revealed strong support for the initiative.

In March, student teams will take part in a design competition focused on the home. Representatives of ICOMOS Canada (the Canadian committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will be in Glace Bay to work with our students and local experts.

This CBU applied-research project is inspired by the HomeMatch Program, a CBU initiative being undertaken at the request of the Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership.

It is also inspired by the recent decision of the Heritage Canada Foundation to put “the company houses of industrial Cape Breton” on its list of the Ten Most Endangered Places in Canada.

CONTACT: Joyce Rankin (563-1139; cell: 304-1418) or Jan Hancock, Cape Breton University (563-1805; jan_hancock@cbu.ca).

Heritage Company House

Dominion Coal Company #734 (former MacIntyre Residence)

Artist Diane Lawrence (2010) for the 7-3-4 Restoration Project


6. Ontario Place Renewal
Catherine Nasmith, editor

According to a report in the Toronto Star, not yet online, there have been more than 1200 ideas submitted for revival of the Ontario Place Site. 

The list of options will be narrowed over the next few months to a possible three for presentation to the public.

Joe Halstead, Acting Board Chair is quoted "People do have an interest in returning this place to its glory days. I love that---This could be a really beautiful thing on the waterfront."

I am old enough to remember the glory of the opening of Ontario Place, a gift to the people of Ontario....(in perpetuity it was said at the time), when it was "a really beautiful thing on the waterfront." Eb Zeidler's most brilliant project, the architecture continues to inspire -- in spite of tawdry alterations. Michael Hough's landscape has also been seriously eroded. 

On a personal note, about 1990 an area survey was conducted by Young and Wright Architects, of Garrison Common. I was the one of the project team, as was William Dendy. We recommended to the City of Toronto that Ontario Place, and much of Exhibition Place be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Regrettably, Councillor Joe Pantalone, then chair of Exhibition Place argued against protection. "The City can look after its own properties",,,,

It is water under the bridge now, but perhaps heritage designation might have prevented the worst of the ill conceived alterations that have compromised this once celebrated site. 


7. Blog TO: Toronto's Lost Hotels
Derek Flack

The lost hotels of Toronto

The recent loss of the building that housed the Empress and then later the Edison Hotel at Yonge and Gould got me wondering about Toronto's other formerly grand but now inevitably lost hotels. While the Royal York, King Edward and Gladstone hotels continue to fulfill their original purpose, there are loads of structures around the city -- like the one at Yonge and Gould was until a few days ago -- that were once part of the hotel landscape that now house an assortment of other businesses. And, not surprisingly, there are plenty of other former hotels that were knocked down as the city expanded.

The original use of some of the remaining buildings is easy to identify in some cases, but more often than not, modifications over time have obscured the fact that they used to be places of accommodation (rather than restaurants or retail outlets). As such, a little trip down memory lane might offer a timely reminder of how lovely some of these buildings were and how important they remain (in the cases where they haven't already been demolished) to the city's heritage.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:Quite an interesting survey....if they had survived Toronto would be the capital of boutique hotels....didn't see the Ford Hotel.


8. blogTO: Abandoned Farming Complex photo-essay
Jonathan Castellino

The horse raced past the barn fell

Click here for Link


9. CBC Metro Morning: Matt Galloway Interviews Lloyd Alter, Yonge St. Fire

Crumbling Heritage

Lloyd Alter, ACO President points to lack of resources to enforce and the need for financial incentives.

Click here for Link


10. Globe and Mail: Dangers for Fireman from Vacant Buildings
Christie Blatchford

Firefighters face increasing peril as vacant death traps proliferate

Yet there isn’t even a central data-collecting agency for fire statistics in Canada, and only a few municipalities where fire departments are even attempting the shift from a reactive – if frankly heroic – traditional model to a pro-active one.

Niagara Falls, Ont., where more than 25 per cent of structure fires in the city occur in vacant buildings, is probably furthest along that path. Using the Ontario Fire Code as the hammer – it says “Vacant buildings shall be secured against unauthorized entry” – the department works with local police to find unoccupied buildings, immediately inspects them, orders them secured – and then vigorously prosecutes owners who fail to comply. Just last month, the Ontario Divisional Court upheld one such order on a vacant building.

As Deputy Chief Jim Jessop told The Globe in a phone interview, his department has prosecuted more than two dozen cases, won fines of as much as $25,000 against owners, received the okay to demolish seven buildings, and, with a number of larger abandoned factories and warehouses, forced owners to take and pay for extraordinary measures such as installing security fences, removing all combustibles and cementing entrances.

The situation which galvanized Niagara Falls was the last fire at a vacant house in the city in 2004. There had been others, but, Deputy Chief Jessop said, the department handled the case in the traditional way, what he called, “Board up, speak to the owner, and wait for the next fire.”

Click here for Link


11. Globe and Mail: John Lorinc and Jeff Gray Analyse
John Lorinc and Jeff Gray

Exploring the past of the building with no future

When the north wall of the former Empress Hotel, at 335 Yonge Street, crumbled in April, the city sprang into action and erected hoardings around the historic structure.

The hoardings irritated local merchants and Ryerson officials. However, until this week’s suspicious fire, it appears little was happening behind the scaffolding.

 fBut documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that the reclusive Lalani Group, which owns the property through a numbered company, and city departments spent the spring locked in a tense game of brinksmanship over the fate of a building that had, according to one engineering assessment, no future to speak of.

With wrecking crews now demolishing its charred husk and police seeking a “person of interest” seen leaving the area just before the fire, 335 Yonge’s slow-motion demise is a cautionary tale about how an irreplaceable building can fall victim to bureaucratic infighting, toothless heritage policies and shoddy management.

“We can’t let this happen again,” Downtown Yonge BIA executive director James Robinson said. “Toronto and Yonge Street has lost part of its identity.”

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:Analysis of the owners, and why this fire was bound to happen


12. Globe and Mail: The Next to Go
Ian Merringer and Ivor Tossell

Torontos most vulnerable vacancies

They call it “demolition by neglect”: When an old building is left to rot until it either can’t be saved, or it demolishes itself. Some collapse, like the stately, unique Walnut Hall in 2007. Others somehow catch fire, like the old Empress Hotel on Yonge Street this week. Either way, the landowner is no longer bound to protect its costly heritage attributes.


GALLERY
Toronto's most vulnerable vacancies
Preservationists have been sounding the alarm for years. “Buildings are moved out of the way so a bigger building can be built,” says Lloyd Alter, president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario.

Heritage laws can keep a designated building from being torn down, but only if the Ontario Municipal Board is on side. And while the fragile buildings are still standing, the laws often fail to force owners – who frequently have plans to redevelop the property – to do more than the bare minimum to preserve them.

“The best approach is to use incentives to make it more appealing for owners to maintain heritage buildings than to abandon them,” says Mr. Alter.

In the meantime, other heritage buildings in Toronto are sitting, unused and at risk.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:A series of photos and descriptions of other vulnerable properties in Toronto


13. Heritage Toronto: Edison (Empress) Hotel and Toronto's Music Scene

335 YONGE STREET (THE EMPRESS HOTEL) DESTROYED BY FIRE

How can we better protect our heritage?

The Empress Hotel at 335 Yonge Street was destroyed yesterday in an early morning fire. Located on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Gould Street, the Empress Hotel (1888) is a three-storey commercial building. The property was included on the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1974, and was designated last year under the Ontario Heritage Act in response to a demolition application.
From the Intent to Designate Report: "The Empress Hotel has design value as a well-crafted example of a late 19th century commercial building that blends elements of the popular Second Empire and Romanesque Revival styles of the era. The distinctive corner tower with a classically detailed mansard roof from Second Empire styling is combined with the monumental round-arched openings that typify the Romanesque Revival style in a carefully crafted composition designed to enhance the presence of the building on Toronto's most prominent commercial street.
Contextually, the Empress Hotel is a local landmark on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Gould Street, where it is the only surviving 19th century commercial building along the east side of Yonge Street in the block between Dundas Street East and Gould Street. With its position on a corner lot and visible tower, the Empress Hotel stands as a reminder of the grandeur of Yonge Street as it developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Toronto's "main street."

Click here for Link


14. National Post: ABC's of Toronto Preservation
Natlie Alcoba

What the #!%*? Torontos heritage buildings

In this occasional feature, the National Post tells you everything you need to know about a complicated issue. Today, Natalie Alcoba takes a look at heritage designations for old buildings, a topic that surged to the forefront after a downtown structure sat vacant and in disrepair for months until burning to the ground Monday.

Q: How is a building designated heritage?
A: Since 1975, properties or districts in Ontario have been handed special status for cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act. Property owners must obtain a permit from the municipality to undergo any changes to the heritage property, or to demolish it. A property can also be listed on the city’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, which provides less protection. There are about 8,000 listed properties in Toronto, 4,500 of which are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Q: What protection does either a listing or a designation confer?
A: The provincial government strengthened the Heritage Act in 2005, so that municipalities can refuse a demolition permit for a property that has been designated. Previously, owners could wait for six months and then automatically have the right to knock a building down. Under the new system, owners can appeal the city’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, which will rule on whether or not to demolish. “Listing” a property on the inventory allows the city’s heritage preservation services department to review development and building applications for those properties, and also demands that an owner give the city a 60-day notice of an intent to demolish.

Q: Once a building is deemed heritage, who pays to maintain it?
A: Largely, the owner. Toronto offers heritage grants that cover up to half of the estimated cost of eligible heritage conservation work and some can receive a 40% rebate on property taxes. But Catherine Nasmith, past president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, said the incentives — in 2009, the grants budget totalled $259,000 — are not nearly enough to ameliorate the often costly upgrades that turn-of-the-century structures require. A heritage property owner has to preserve the features that make the building special, maintaining the design and using the same type of material. Sometimes, owners will resort to “demolition by neglect” by allowing buildings to rot. “There are buildings sitting in prime locations in a disgraceful state of repair,” said Paul Oberman, who has overseen acclaimed restoration projects, such as the Summerhill LCBO, as president and CEO of Woodcliffe Corporation. He believes the current “ad hoc” tax rebate program needs an overhaul. The limited financial relief is a “disincentive” for people to spend the amount of time and money required to do the job properly, said Mr. Oberman. Offer annual rebates to buildings that are kept in exemplary condition, he argues, and rents would increase, property values would spike and the city would reap more property taxes. “The preservation of that building and that work of art is a public good, and the public has to meet that onus halfway,” said Ms. Nasmith.


Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/01/04/what-the-torontos-heritage-buildings/#ixzz1AaZqnDh2

Click here for Link


15. National Post: Person of Interest Yonge St. Fire
Jared Lindzon

Police release photos of person near site of Yonge St. fire

The sounds of heavy machinery came to a brief halt at the fire-ravaged site of the former Empress Hotel Friday afternoon as officials took a moment away from one thread of their investigation to seek help following another.

Steps away from the collapsed structure at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, police officers held up grainy images captured by a surveillance camera of a lone figure approaching the abandoned building just before a six-alarm fire broke out early Monday morning.

“There’s a video that shows a person of interest that we would like to identify in the area heading toward the building at approximately 1:30 a.m. on the night of the fire, and leaving the area at approximately 3:50 on the night of the fire,” said Detective Constable David Love of Toronto Police Services.

Approximately 125 firefighters were dispatched to the scene Monday morning after receiving an emergency call at about 4:05 a.m.

“We’re asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this person of interest, or if this person could come forward to help us out with this investigation they might be a witness to the fire starting.”

The footage was acquired from a surveillance camera belonging to a local business, and is available on the Toronto Police Service’s website. The footage shows a person approaching the alley behind 355 Yonge St. The figure was later seen walking northeast away from the scene.

The person is wearing light-coloured jeans, a dark jacket with a hood and a white or cream backpack, said Detective Love. The person was still carrying the backpack after leaving the area.

Police and fire officials have been sifting through debris for evidence since the building’s collapse earlier this week and resumed their investigation shortly after Friday’s news conference.

 

Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/01/07/mysterious-figure-seen-entering-building-before-yonge-street-blaze/#ixzz1Aa5JZnIQ

Click here for Link


16. The Toronto Star: What to do
Kenneth Kidd

Historic buildings: The problem with preservation

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:Best piece on what to do.....I am hoping that the business sections pick up and explore Paul Oberman's ideas for ways to flow private capital into heritage buildings.


17. Toronto Star: Editorial Empress Hotel Fire
Editor, Toronto Star

Heritage buildings: Demolition by sheer neglect

When it first opened in 1889, the Empress Hotel was considered one of Toronto’s finest. But this year it took a six-alarm fire to draw attention to the historic building in city’s downtown core.

That’s hardly a surprise as the city tends to take our historic structures for granted until they are in grave danger of disappearing, as with the burned-out building at Yonge and Gould Sts.

We don’t have many commercial buildings of this era left, and even fewer with such an illustrious past and prominent location. Yet the city didn’t move to give this building any protection at all by designating it a heritage building until last year after if was in such a state of disrepair its brick façade started falling down.

It used to be that municipalities could cite weak preservation laws and blame the provincial government for the loss of heritage properties. But no more. In 2005, the province beefed up the Ontario Heritage Act to prevent a designated heritage building from being demolished.

But it still takes political will and bureaucratic energy to make sure important buildings get designated in the first place. And other bylaws, such as property standards, have to be deployed to ensure heritage buildings with indifferent owners are still well maintained.

Without such steps, we get what we have seen far too often in our city: demolition by neglect. Our city is the poorer for it.

Demolished historic buildings cannot be replaced. As Catherine Nasmith, a preservation architect, says of the old Empress Hotel: “No one will ever build a building like it again.” Those who built it are gone and, increasingly, so are those who even know those techniques.

Some owners and developers work hard to preserve heritage properties, but others figure they can get away with keeping just a wall, or perhaps even less, in their bid to extract value from a site.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:That's a first...a quote in an editorial


18. Ryerson EyeOpener: Sheldon Levy Eyeing Property
Sarah Del Giallo

LEVY: RYE WANTS YONGE AND GOULD

Ryerson University is still interested in the property on the corner of Yonge and Gould, even after a massive blaze engulfed the building on Monday.
“When the building was there, we were interested. When the building fell down, we were interested. And after the building burned down, we remain interested,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.


Ryerson has been after the Heritage building for some time now. The Dundas subway station platform ends underneath the site making it possible to have a campus entrance to the subway. Since the building is a historical landmark, the city has most of the control over what happens to the plot, regardless of the owner. It will be impossible to know what kind of building will stand on the plot until the city releases its restrictions.


Levy said the main source of frustration around the fire is the possibility that it could have been prevented. After the wall collapse in April, the building stood empty and deteriorating for eight months.


“The fact that there was no urgency, I think is insulting to everyone in our community. And I hope now there’s an urgency,” said Levy. “My hope is we’re not here in eight months talking about the same thing.”


No decisions about the building’s fate can be made until the fire department’s investigation is completed. Captain Mike Strapko said the process is moving slowly. Hoses are still misting the ruins to keep the building’s asbestos from floating around.


“It’s a very complex and meticulous investigation,” said Strapko.
Students are harbouring a lot of confusion about the fire and the community is waiting for answers from the investigation.

Click here for Link


19. Toronto Star: Empress Hotel Fire-What to do
Kenneth Kidd

“First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again.”

Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn

On the northeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, just across from the former and now fire-gutted Empress Hotel, sits a vacant lot strewn with rubble.

This is where Sam the Record Man used to be, where generations passed under those spinning neon records to pick up the latest hits — in LPs, 45s, eight tracks, cassettes and, finally, CDs.

Ryerson University plans to build a student centre there, but the most striking thing about the lot right now is where it meets the sidewalk.

In the fashion of archeological digs, it’s easy to make out the original stone foundations of a half-dozen 19th-century buildings, gradually subsumed by the expanding Sam’s, which, to the untrained eye, came to look as if it were just one or two structures.

Over the decades, the place had simply evolved, responding to changes in the way society behaves, how it awards esthetic value, what it expects a building to provide.

Was Sam’s, as a building and a destination, any less beloved than the tiny shops into which it relentlessly grew?

Ironically, this may be the key question amid all the handwringing over the demise of the more historic Empress Hotel, a sad victim of demolition by neglect.

We might construct buildings with a specific use in mind, but fashion, economics and technology start to intervene almost from the outset.

Click here for Link


20. CBC Metro Morning: Lloyd Alter on Hearne

http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/2010/12/dont-tear-it-down.html

ACO President Lloyd Alter on the Hearne Demolition, the importance of recycling writ large.

Click here for Link


21. National Post: Fight on to stop Hearn demolition
Peter Kuitenbrouwer

Heritage Toronto, an arm's-length city agency funded mainly through donations, has entered the fight to save the enormous Hearn Generating Station, a listed heritage building in Toronto's port lands.

"This building is a symbol of the former waterfront of Toronto," said Gary Miedema, historian at Heritage Toronto. "The Hearn was built there so it could easily receive coal brought up the St. Lawrence Seaway. In a place where everyone thinks that there is no history, this is a building that could anchor that history."

Heritage Toronto posted an urgent note on its website late Tuesday calling on Torontonians to save the Hearn.

Last August, Ontario Power Generation, which owns the building, applied for a demolition permit for the structure, according to Armando Barbini, manager, plan review at the Toronto Building department.

"We have received an application for demolition from an agent for the owner, or an employee of OPG or it could be a demolition company on behalf of the owner, which is OPG," Mr. Barbini said. He said the city has no power to refuse the demolition permit, and is merely waiting for a road damage deposit before it will issue the permit.

"We've been given advice that the Ontario Heritage Act is not applicable to a provincial agency," Mr. Barbini said. "It's in the hands of the province."

Click here for Link


22. Eye Weekly: Shawn Micaleff Compares Toronto and London England
Shawn Micaleff

Back to the mothership

Toronto, they say, is obsessed with New York. But these days, we may be wiser to direct our gaze back to our colonial mothership, London, England. It used to be that our fine city looked across the Atlantic for most things intellectual, cultural and political. (Street and neighbourhood names too: King, Queen, Bathurst, Islington.) These days, London gets more media play for its rapidly deteriorating social and spacing conditions than for its cultural supremacy. Add to that a population now swollen to over 8 million people and you wind up with a British tonne of problems to try and contain in a land mass only 40km wide from suburban edge to edge.

Click here for Link


23. Open File Toronto: Heritage Department Can't Cope
Josh OKane

When architect Ian MacDonald bought an old 1,000-square-foot house in Wychwood Park in the 1990s, he discovered he couldn’t tear it down.

While the 1951 bungalow didn’t have much esthetic value — “It was a terrible building,” MacDonald says — the neighbourhood was a heritage conservation district, which meant that buildings couldn’t be knocked down or visibly built upon.

So instead of building up, MacDonald built down. He rounded out the basement a level and a half below, doubling the floorspace and using light wells around the home to allow in more light.

Passersby see a normal bungalow from the street, but beyond that lies a home that won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture in 2008.

“There is a design solution, sometimes, that suits both the heritage conservation objective, and the programming for the user,” MacDonald says.

Not everyone is as lucky as MacDonald when they deal with preservation issues in Toronto. The city’s heritage preservation department is so chronically understaffed that it employs only one person to research and report heritage evaluations for the entire city. It means a constant backlog of work, holding back any possibility of dealing with all the files or setting up a thorough inventory of heritage properties.

“There’s no ability, with the one person, to have a survey program to get ahead of the curve — to review the possibility that buildings might be of value, or even to respond to all the nominations that we receive from the community,” says Mary MacDonald, acting manager of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services department.

Right now, the department has three vacancies in its usual 12-person staff, but Mary MacDonald says the number of requests they get “could easily warrant a number of additional staff.”

“At the end of the day, the heritage process is incredibly broken,” says Geoff Teehan, who with his wife, Melissa, spent two months of 2010 batting the city’s heritage system. As it turns out, the flaws that slow the system down worked to their advantage.

They wanted a home that, above all, had to accommodate two things. First, it had to be in the Beaches, so that their family could stay in the neighbourhood they loved. The second is that Melissa is quadriplegic. This meant they would need to raze the existing home in order to build a fully accessible one.

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Editor's Note:Interesting to see so much coverage in general media....about time. But will Ford hold strong on his promise to strengthen heritage preservation.


24. theglobeandmail.com: Future of faith, Part III - As churches crumble, communities fear loss of heritage
INGRID PERITZ

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson - Rejean Charbonneau of the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve historical society sits in front to the organ in the Tres-Saint-Nom-de-Jesus Church Friday April 23, 2010 in Montreal, might sell its organ to Archdiocese of Toronto

In the glory years of Christmases past, the pews of the Saint-Nom-de-Jésus Church in Montreal spilled over with 1,200 parishioners, their spirits lifted by the strains of O Holy Night on the mighty church organ.

 

This was no ordinary musical instrument: The 6,200-pipe Casavant was one of the world’s largest, set in a sanctuary with 24-carat gold leaf decorations and stained-glass windows made in France.

These days, the century-old church is barricaded behind a fence, a sign on its front door warning of falling stones. Plaster is coming off the ceiling, and the organ, a jewel valued at $2.5-million, is being offered for free by the Montreal Archdiocese to any church in Quebec.

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25. Waterloo Record: Council OKs demolition of St. Clement school
Kevin Swayze

Demolition coming St. Clement school on Westminister Drive North in Cambridge has been cleared for demolition by council.

CAMBRIDGE — A second historic school in Preston has a date with the wrecker’s ball.

City council on Monday voted 5-4 to allow demolition of the vacant St. Clement separate school at 291 Westminster Dr. N.

The city’s volunteer heritage committee wanted the city to designate the 97-year-old school under the Ontario Heritage Act. That would have blocked demolition.

The old school is owned by neighbouring St. Clement’s Roman Catholic church, which wants the building razed for an expanded parking lot.

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26. Orleans EMC: ICCROM Honours Herb Stovel

Carleton professor to receive award

EMC News - It's always been the history of classical buildings that pulled Herb Stovel into architecture.

Now, a passion for heritage conservation is netting the Carleton University professor of Canadian Studies a prestigious international award for conservation to be awarded in Rome on Nov. 9, 2011.

The award is presented by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). ICCROM is an international cultural heritage training institution inside the UNESCO umbrella. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

"I must admit, it was a surprise," said Stovel. "I think it's the best known international conservation award, and it's not given very often to many people. If I look at the list of people who have received it, they are the best-known people in the conservation world going back 50 years. ICCROM was created by UNESCO in 1959, so it's basically 50 years old. When it was created, it was the only place you could get training and education in the heritage conservation field in the world. It's intergovernmental, so people would always send their best to Rome, where it was founded."

"They give it every year to people who both make significant contributions to the conservation movement internationally, but also the work of ICCROM," he added. "It's a mark of the recognition of all you've put in behind the scenes as well as up front throughout a long career."

Stovel got his start in architecture when he graduated from the Bachelor of Architecture at McGill University in 1972, and a Masters in Environmental Conservation from the Heriot-Watt University/Edinburgh College of Art in 1978. Stovel was an ICCROM student in 1982, when he was working with the Ontario Heritage Foundation as a restoration architect.

Stovel found himself going back and forth to Rome several times during his career. "I took advantage of the fact that they had regular courses every year and went off to Rome for 11 months, and discovered the connection I had to the international world," said Stovel. "I just kept finding ways to be a part of that."

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27. Owen Sound Sun Times: a gem in Owen Sound's heritage crown
DENIS LANGLOIS

Owners celebrate home's history

The grand house that stands in the shadow of the nationally historic Billy Bishop Home & Museum is, in itself, a gem in Owen Sound's heritage crown.

Built in 1890, the two-and-a-half- storey late Victorian-style building once housed an American consulate office, providing a link to the city's history as a shipping port on the Great Lakes.

It was also the longtime home of industrialist Colin Russel, the entrepreneur who established the Russel Brothers factory.

"It's a terrific building. I think it's a great recognition of Owen Sound's past," said Mayor Deb Haswell, outgoing head of the city's community planning and heritage committee.

Owners Michael Leeper and wife Marcella have been working over the past seven years to restore and preserve the historic building, which is next door to the boyhood home of First World War flying ace Billy Bishop.

Late last month, Owen Sound city council voted to back the Leepers' request to designate and protect the house at 932 3rd Ave. W. under Ontario Heritage Act legislation, which bans property owners from demolishing it or significantly altering its appearance without council permission.

The home will soon be added to the national registry of heritage properties.

"I want to leave something behind that nobody can touch," Michael Leeper said in an interview Tuesday inside the home's dining room. "I just don't want this to be butchered."

The Leepers are the sixth owners of the home, according to a report by Owen Sound's heritage co-ordinator Sandra Parks.

The couple purchased the property seven years ago while living in downtown Toronto.

Leeper said he was working as a stock broker on Bay St. when he "fell in love" with the Georgian Bay area while visiting a friend near Blue Mountain.

The Leepers purchased the oldest stone schoolhouse in the former St. Vincent Township, an 1852 building in Griersville, to serve as a weekend retreat.

The pair spent years restoring it and eventually decided to move to the area full-time.

The four-bedroom house in Owen Sound caught the family's eye. Leeper said it reminded him of the historic homes in the affluent Rosedale-Forest Hill area of Toronto.

"I recognized the distinctive features from the 1890 period -- it was the height of Victorianism," he said.

The pair sold their condominium in downtown Toronto. With children Michelle and Robert, the Leepers moved to Grey County before finding work, Leeper said.

"We just fell in the love with the area. We dropped everything."

The double-brick home, with square tower and wraparound verandah, was built 120 years ago for John Redfern, who established the Redfern & LePan hardware business in Owen Sound in 1869, and his wife Jane.

The building is most widely recognized for its brief tenure as the home and office of United States Consul Augustus Seyfert -- from June 1908 to September 1909.

Five offices in Owen Sound served as an American consulate between 1879 and 1915, according to Parks' report.

At the time, Owen Sound was an important Great Lakes shipping port, with major railway lines transporting goods in and out of the city and industry thriving along the bustling harbour.

A U.S. consulate was stationed in Owen Sound to protect the interests of American sailors and other U.S. citizens in the port city.

Another of the home's prominent former residents was industrialist Colin Russel, who, along with his brother Robert, established Russel Bros. Ltd., a boatbuilder. Russel and his wife Jean moved into the home in 1937. Jean lived there until the mid-1980s.

The building was also home to police magistrate A.D. Creasor in the early 1900s.

"The house was built and lived in by representatives of Owen Sound's business, government and industry leaders," Parks' report says.

The house is one of the few examples in Owen Sound of the late Victorian version of Italian Villa architecture, Parks' report says.

It features an L-shaped layout, large decorated chimneys, a rubble stone foundation, decorated brick patterns, dentil moulding and gingerbread exterior woodwork.

"The structure contains materials and finishes which display a high degree of artistic merit in design and craftsmanship in construction," the report says.

"Through the years, it has been well maintained and retains much of its original fabric."

Leeper, a lifelong antique collector and architecture enthusiast, said he plans to continue restoring the home. His next major project is to restore the white verandah, he said.

Leeper said he has plans to eventually convert the house into a premiere bed and breakfast.

The former U.S. consulate building is the most recent property designated by city council under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In 2009, Bill and Marsha Barrow asked city hall to designate their home -- Butchart Estate at 919 5th Ave. E. -- under the act.

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28. Owen Sound Sun Times: Small congregation say church repairs will be done
Paul Jankowski

Church roof needs extensive repairs

It is an undertaking beyond the reach and resources of the small congregation, but in the words of Nancy King, "the reality is it has to be done, so it will be done."

King is the chairwoman of the capital campaign committee of St. George's Anglican Church in Owen Sound. Her group has already raised more than $300,000, but finds itself another $280,000 in debt for the restoration last year of the church's majestic 142-foot high steeple.

The job she's talking about, however, isn't just paying off the bill for the steeple. They have to come up with another $350,000 or so to repair the church roof.

"We've had to look at our finances straight on. We know that 170 families cannot bear that cost alone," church warden Elaine Paton said. "We are looking for money beyond here. We have to."

St. George's is one of four stone churches at 10th St. and 4th Ave. E., a collection of buildings that gave the intersection the nickname Salvation Corners.

The church is "an absolute treasure, not just an architectural treasure, it is a significant historical landmark. It was here before the city of Owen Sound was incorporated," said Paton. "It is the oldest functioning church in Owen Sound."

Built at a cost of $12,000, it was opened and dedicated on Aug. 7, 1881, according to a church pamphlet. The church was designed by Marshall Aylesworth, the architect behind some dozen churches and 24 other buildings, according to Laurie McBride, who researched Aylesworth's work as part of her masters in art history studies at York University.

Among St. George's many features is a stained glass window designed by Robert McCausland Ltd., the oldest stained glass studio in North America, that won a bronze medal at the 1883 Chicago World's Fair, according to church history.

During an interview at the church, both Paton and King said time and again that the roof work must be done and will be done.

The church is not just a meeting place for its congregation but a resource for the city and the larger community. Local groups use it for meetings and the church supports programs internationally, they said.

"From the beginning I have been emphasizing that this is a cultural heritage landmark rather than emphasizing the church part of it because there are many people who are not very keen on churches. But this building has to be maintained because of its cultural, historic significance," King said.

"There are worthy historical sites you don't want to lose," Paton said. "This is a history and a tribute to the craftspeople who were founding Owen Sound  the shipbuilders, the carpenters, the stone masons."

The hope is the province or the federal government might realize the importance of historical buildings and contribute to their upkeep and restoration, much like the National Trust does in England, Paton said.

With the exception of a facade grant from the city, "we have not been able to access any government funding at all," King added.

"We are such a young country people don't understand the importance" of our historical buildings, she said. "Other countries do massive restoration to keep their history . . . we lose these landmarks because we don't recognize that once that goes, a piece of our history goes."

For now, some temporary repairs have been made to keep water from leaking into the church. "It's a roof on a roof," Paton said, but doing things patchwork is absolutely the wrong way to go.

"When you are a steward of a place like this your only job is to do what you can for now and then other folk will have to take up the cause . . . but we're not going to let it fall down. This is our place. It's important," Paton said.

"I have been trying to find ways to get our story out beyond Grey and Bruce but I haven't managed that yet," King added. "We'll continue fundraising and looking for support from our community, but we're hoping to move well beyond the community."

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29. Timeless Recyclers: Interesting Source for "House Parts"

The Timeless Material Company Saves Architectural Artifacts From Demolition


When I first stepped into The Timeless Material Company’s main showroom, I felt that little thrill I get whenever I’ve stumbled on to a place where my imagination can run wild. In this case, the barn that houses some of the many salvaged historical artifacts, holds enough material that I started mentally constructing my new “historical” dream house. “I’ll use this as my front door….here are some stunning lead-paned, diamond shaped windows….I’ll take the claw foot bathtub, and of course, the beautiful, Crane kitchen sink in mint condition.”….my heart sings.


Diamond Shaped Lead Paned Windows
When you look around Timeless Materials’ substantial property you’ll see acres of building material that’s been saved from buildings slated for demolition. In fact, as Ken Kieswetter puts it, “The salvage business was a natural outcome from the demolition business.” You see, Timeless Materials, a salvage business, exists because Ken and his family also own a demolition company, Kieswetter Demolition. Ken saw the potential of all the beautiful old building structures, and now salvages what he can before he takes the building down. They also own a construction company, Timeless Timber Structures, that uses salvaged beams to build timber frame homes.

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30. CBC Interview with Robert Bateman
Catherine Nasmith

Strong Views on Heritage Preservation,

Unfortunately, there is not a link to just the Bateman Interview, but to the full episode. 

Heritage Canada/OHF---How about asking Bateman to join your Board. He has very interesting ideas about Canada's heritage and the value of older buildings and main streets to our communities.

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31. Globe and Mail: Death of John Murphy: Former St. John's Mayor
Joan Sullivan

The man who saved downtown St. John's

Visionary mayor was the inspiration for a popular CBC Radio series, His Worship

John Murphy was a popular and long-serving mayor credited with helping guard and restore the architectural persona of St. John's. First elected to council in 1973, Murphy was acutely aware of the trend of post-1960s North American port cities to withdraw from their harbours, leaving them inaccessible industrial and warehouse zones, and he did not want this to happen to St. John's.

He emphasized heritage and conservation, as he saw many beautiful downtown homes abandoned or turned into rundown boarding houses. The Neighbourhood Improvement Program and the Residence Rehabilitation Program were two of his first initiatives, with the latter supplying grants to fix up 3,500 houses.

During his tenure the council created many rules and regulations to protect the downtown core, but the best known might be the bylaw that prevented Atlantic Place, a much-reviled box on Water Street, from adding another five storeys to its existing seven. In fact, no downtown building is now allowed to stand more than 10 storeys.

There were programs for infill housing, which funded non-profit homes but avoided constructing them in clumps.

Development was banned on the Southside Hills, saving a historic vista. And transit infrastructure such as Pitts Memorial Drive and the Columbus Drive crosstown arterial were funded or enhanced for the city's expanding official boundaries, which grew from 65 to 518 square kilometres.

While mayor, Murphy was the inspiration for a CBC Radio series, His Worship, scripted by Ray Guy and performed by Karl Wells, who was then a CBC-TV meteorologist and broadcaster with a knack for imitating Murphy.

"We'd put him in all sorts of funny situations, like coaching a rowing team of fellow city councillors in the St. John's Regatta or walking St. Pete's beach in Florida wearing nothing but a pair of trunks and his chain of office," Wells said.

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32. Institute of Classical Architecture of America

Interesting Organization

I had never heard of this organization until a subscriber sent me the link. Perhaps this group might be described as the "Old Urbanists", founded in 1948. Fourteen chapters across the U.S.

They offer some interesting courses and lectures.

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33. DeDeCe Blog: Saarinen's Miller House, Columbus Indiana
John Engleton

Recently opened as a House Museum

With the interior by Alexander Girard and landscape design by Daniel Urban Kiley, the Miller House and Garden was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

The house has undergone an 18-month renovation, which included careful restoration of many of the original period details.

Eero Saarinen designed the glass-and-stone house for J. Irwin Miller, a industrialist who championed modernist architecture, in Columbus, Ind., 40 miles south of Indianapolis.

Its 13-acre grounds were designed by well-known landscape architect Daniel Kiley, and its interior designer was Alexander Girard. But unlike other modern structures such as Fallingwater and the Farnsworth House, the 7,000-square-foot house was a full-time home for more than 50 years.

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34. RIBA: Steven Holl Speaks at Acceptance of Jencks Award

This year’s Jencks Award winner, the American architect Steven Holl, discusses his work alongside his interest in the poetics of space, colour and material. Ranging across cultural, civic, academic and residential projects both in the United States and internationally, his work includes the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and, currently, an extension to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art.

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