published by
2521 Subscribers

Issue No. 213 | June 20, 2013


Add your Story

Feature Stories

  1. Spadina House- Visit for the Trees
  2. Death of Tony Coombs
  3. Globe and Mail: Obituary Tony Coombes
  4. Toronto Star: 1 Spadina Crescent-New Architecture School
  5. CBC Hamilton: Full speed ahead for demolition on Gore Park
  6. The Moose FM: No Permit for Drilling for Hydro Plant at Bala Falls


Back Campus Common Summer Solstice Celebration
+ read

Coca-Cola Site in Thorncliffe -- Community Meeting
Wednesday 19 June
+ read

Garden Court Apartments (Leaside) Community Consultation Meeting
Thursday June 20, 2013 -
+ read


ad ad ad ad ad ad ad

Built Heritage News Sponsors


1. Spadina House- Visit for the Trees
Catherine Nasmith

Whenever we go on holidays, visiting historic sites, house museums are high on our list, so it is with great embarassment that I confess I paid my first visit to Spadina House during this year's Doors Open event.

Somehow we just don't get to these places at home. The house is lovely, but what really knocked us out were the grounds and especially the fantastic trees, some of which seem to be older than Toronto. There is an oak with branches that sweep across the ground as wide as the tree is tall, and two that you can stand under with the branches falling close to the ground around you. It is a magical experience to stand under and look up through these majestic trees, and to contemplate the generations past and to come who will enjoy them.  Now that we have discovered this little public glade, we'll be back.

2. Death of Tony Coombs
Neptis Foundation

The Neptis Foundation is saddened to announce the death of Anthony (Tony) Coombes, the founding executive director of the Neptis Foundation on Monday, 10th June 2013.

A private funeral service will be held by the family on Saturday, 15th June followed by a public memorial service to be announced at a later date.

The Neptis Foundation welcomes testimonials about Tony from those who knew him, which we hope to share at the public memorial service.

TONY COOMBES, 1937-2013.

Tony Coombes dedicated his professional life to city building. His fascination with the big picture and forward-looking ideas placed him at the centre of some of the most exciting and ambitious urban district development projects around the world.

At the age of 31, Tony was appointed Chief Planner for the Central Area District of the City of Toronto. In the late 1960s and through 1970s, he championed the landmark Central Area Plan which promoted mixed-use development in a city core then dominated by office buildings and parking lots, work that helped protect many inner-city neighbourhoods under threat from high-rise redevelopment.

Later, as Senior Vice-President of Development at Olympia and York, Coombes journeyed to New York and London, England to coordinate the design and development of two globally renowned waterfront renewal projects, the World Financial Center and the massive transformation of the London Docklands initiated by Canary Wharf.

Nevertheless, it was Toronto, a city that he loved deeply, to which Tony always returned. His legacy includes a report that led to the establishment of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation.

Toronto was also where he played out his final role as the founding executive director of the Neptis Foundation, a charitable organization which conducts and publishes nonpartisan research on the past, present and future of urban regions.

Tony Coombes died, at the age of 75, on Monday, 10th June 2013 in Toronto after a brief illness.

Tony Coombes, appreciated and cherished by his many friends and colleagues, is survived by his daughter Zoe Coombes (David Boira), grandson Pau, his sister Beverley Mansbridge (Ray) in Sydney, his partner Patricia Goodwin, and his friend and colleague Martha Shuttleworth.


3. Move to Designate Back Campus Fails
Catherine Nasmith

In spite of the pleas and presence of Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, and many others to preserve the Back Campus of the University of Toronto as a grass common, Toronto City Council voted against Councillor Adam Vaughan's motion. A laughable motion to request U of T to maybe consider a review in 10 years was tacked on with no obligation to actually follow through.

However the silver lining was a motion to have staff report on the possiblility of an HCD on the University of Toronto Campus to preserve the cultural heritage landscape. This could open the door to the comprehensive planning that Minister of Infrastructure Glen Murray, Councillor Krysten Wong-Tam and the Ontario Capital Precinct Working Group have been calling for, ie a precinct plan for what was originally Queen's Park, linked to College St. and the former College Avenue (University Avenue). At one time all one park for Toronto and the University, and still linked as the place of Toronto, and Ontario's most important institutions.

4. Toronto Star: No Designation for Back Campus
Paul Maloney

Toronto council opts out of University of Toronto turf wars

Toronto City Council has decided to end the turf war at the University of Toronto’s back campus sports fields.
Bowing to the possibility of facing a lawsuit, council voted 31-12 Wednesday to support artificial turf, which officials say is needed for the university to host field hockey during the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The issue split the university community, with such high-profile figures as Margaret Atwood and Adrienne Clarkson backing retention of the natural grass fields.

On the other side were officials of the Pan Am Games and such prominent supporters as Bruce Kidd, former dean of physical education at the university.

City council shouldn’t have been drawn into the battle, said Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday
“It’s a fight in the family up at the university, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s where it should be settled,” Holyday said.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Council spent the better part of the day on this item, but we lost. I am of course disappointed. Hoping this can be reversed post games. From the research we did there is no "magic carpert" that can support International Field Hockey and all the other things U of T promised to all the councillors as David Naylor personally lobbied every one. Those who fought to save the field will be watching and holding U of T to their promises. 

5. Toronto Star Opinion Poll on Back Campus

A chance to show your support for preserving the Back Campus...or not

Click here for Link

6. Globe and Mail: No Designation for Back Campus
James Bradshaw

Final bid to halt U of T turf plan fails

Toronto city councillors have struck down the last remaining gambit to halt the University of Toronto’s plans to install artificial turf on its storied back campus field, arguing it is too late to revisit the $9.5-million project.

Despite growing opposition, the first shovels will break ground by July 1 as planned, after councillors voted 31 to 12 in favour of allowing a pair of artificial field-hockey surfaces to be built, which will put them on schedule to be ready for use when Toronto hosts the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games.


A large coalition of opponents, including students, professors and alumni, had tried to block the project by asking city council to designate the back campus, a cherished green space at the heart of the university’s downtown campus, a cultural heritage landscape. After six hours of debate, councillors refused the heritage designation, ruling that it is long past the time to change course.


Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Not even Adrienne Clarkson could melt the hearts of this Council. 

7. Globe and Mail: Michael Bliss on U of T process on Back Campus
MIchael Bliss

U of T cant see the forest for the astroturf

It’s always sad when a great university loses its way. And sad, and very strange, when the cause of the trouble is a few acres of grass.

That’s what has happened this year at the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest and, in many surveys, its best university. What has happened is that an insensitive, cynical administration has allowed itself to become captive to a special interest group, has backed itself into a corner, and is now in the process of estranging its students, its alumni, environmentalists, and its reputation as a respecter of its own heritage. And all over a few acres of grass.


The proposal to pave and then artificially turf the U of T’s historic back campus to build field hockey pitches for the Pan Am games in 2015 is creating a godawful mess. A year or so ago, the university’s Governing Council, acting on the advice of its administration – which was acting on the advise of elite athletes And physical educators such as Bruce Kidd – voted in favour of “astroturfing” it’s back campus as a venue for the field hockey tournament at the Pan Am games and for international competitions thereafter. The idea was to access Pan Am money to cover half the cost.

Click here for Link

8. CBC Metro Morning- Back Campus interview
Matt Galloway interviews Alan Ackerman and Scott Maybury

Turf War

U of T's Scott Maybury and Alan Ackerman face off over the proposed heritage designation of U of T's back campus. It will be before Council tomorrow morning at 9:30. Please attend if you can.

Click here for Link

9. Globe and Mail: Obituary Tony Coombes
John Lorinc

Architect Tony Coombes helped reshape Toronto

More than a decade into what’s been called the urban century, Toronto has emerged as a global centre that has caught the attention of planners around the world. Despite gridlock and a scandal-plagued mayor, the city’s 24/7 downtown has attracted a sustained run of investment from commercial and residential builders, homeowners, employers, cultural institutions and research organizations.

It would be easy to assume, as many do, that Toronto’s boom is due to a mix of market forces and demographics. But the seeds of this renaissance were sown by a team of young planners in the early 1970s, chief among them Tony Coombes, an Australian-born architect whose fingerprints are all over the strategy that transformed Toronto’s stagnating core into one of North America’s most successful examples of mixed-use urbanism.

Mr. Coombes, whose career as a city builder took him to New York, Beirut and London, died June 10, 2013 at the age of 75.

After leaving Toronto’s planning department in the mid-1970s, he served as a senior adviser for Olympia & York, the Reichmann-owned development powerhouse that built New York’s World Financial Center and London’s Canary Wharf. He returned to Toronto in the early 1990s, and played a pivotal role in the creation of the tri-level agency now redeveloping the city’s waterfront.


Click here for Link

10. Globe and Mail: Replanning Yorkville
John Bentley Mays

Looks like times up for Yorkvilles old guard

In the summer of 1969, when I moved from the States to Toronto, the intoxicating haze of rock music, incense, pot fumes and flower-power politics hung heavy over the little Victorian streets of the Yorkville district.

Head shops and vintage clothing emporia and coffee houses served a cosmopolitan clientele made up of young drifters and seekers, draft dodgers, outlaws and students. Though I was not a very convincing hippie – I never did get the hang of smoking weed – I enjoyed wandering along the neighbourhood’s byways and browsing in the Book Cellar, on the corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville Avenue.

The Book Cellar is gone, of course, and so is the run-down folksiness that once gave central Yorkville a kind of faded charm. The district’s transformation into a spiffy, high-end shopping and residential area began in the early 1970s, but this process is only nearing completion now, as new condominium towers go up, one after another, on the edges and main thoroughfares of the former village.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

A year ago I wrote on the importance of York Square, and the need for its preservation. Linda Lewis signed a nomination for its designation and provided the City with a large portfolio of publications from world media in over 8 countries that recognized the projects significance. File is still pending....

Here's hoping it floats to the top of the HPS pile soon.

11. Toronto Star: 1 Spadina Crescent-New Architecture School
Vince Talotta

University of Toronto to redesign historic building

One Spadina Cres., a historic landmark at U of T, will undergo a giant facelift with a major announcement next week.


There is a building in Toronto that weaves a complicated tale. A lot of ins, a lot of outs, and a lot of what-have-yous.

The building has many stories, one about life-saving medicine, another about an unsolved murder and countless others, including one about a room full of eyeballs. It’s also a story about Toronto and its transformation over the past 138 years.

Now, the gothic revival building at 1 Spadina Cres. sits empty save for dirt, asbestos and gobs of stucco. The nearby area at Spadina Ave. and College St. is tired and run down.

But on Tuesday, the University of Toronto will unveil its designs on the historic site that began as a theological school in 1875.
“It’s finally time to give this part of the campus, and the city, the beauty it deserves,” said Richard Sommer, dean of the school’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, which will move into the new building when it is completed in about three years.
The exact plans for the building are under lock-and-key until Tuesday.

Click here for Link

12. Toronto Star: Concourse Building Unhappy Ending
Christopher Hume

Celebrated Toronto Art Deco tower victim of growth

The past isn’t just a foreign country, it’s one against which we are at war. On every corner and at every turn, it seems, the battle rages. With each passing week, another historic building, or potential heritage landscape, comes under attack.

The city, of course, is only too happy to allow the destruction to continue, typically demanding nothing more than a token saving of a façade or two, if that.

It’s been called “façadomy,” and the term is painfully apt. Throughout Toronto, any number of fine old buildings have been reduced to an exterior incorporated, carbuncle-like, into the larger exterior of its successor.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

While I was chair of the Toronto Preservation Board in 2000, the fight  to try to save this building was spectacularly unsuccessful. As the project was postponed I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail.

The furor over the Concourse led to the strengthening of our heritage laws. Ironically, Toronto City Council could refuse to issue a demolition permit for this designated tower, but agreements to re-organize the elevation predate the Ontario Heritage Act revisions.....lawyers would have a field day. I am saddened to see this project going ahead.

13. Toronto Star: Masonic Temple
Rachel Mendleson

Bell Media sells Toronto Masonic Temple to IT consulting firm

Info-Tech Research Group plans to use the storied Toronto heritage building for office space — and an annual charity rock concert.

The main concert space in the Masonic Temple is protected by a heritage designation, but Info-Tech Research Group, which has purchased the building from Bell Media, says the space is good for its office operations without significant alterations


After months of uncertainty about the fate of Toronto’s storied Masonic Temple, the legendary live-music venue has been sold to Info-Tech Research Group, an IT consulting firm that plans to use it for office space.
Info-Tech President and CEO Joel McLean said the Toronto and London, Ont.-based company was drawn to the history of the property, which was built in 1918 to house the Masons, a semisecret fraternal sect whose millwork adorns the upper-floor meeting rooms.

Click here for Link

14. Toronto Star: Unesco weighs in on Gros Morne Fracking
Sue Bailey

Gros Morne fracking plan needs assessment: UN committee

The UNESCO world heritage committee is recommending that a monitoring mission be sent to Gros Morne National Park to assess fracking risks.

A couple walk along a boardwalk on their way to Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne, N.L. The UNESCO world heritage committee is recommending a monitoring mission be sent to Canada over "serious concerns" about potential oil exploration near Gros Morne National Park.

The UNESCO world heritage committee is recommending that a monitoring mission be sent to Gros Morne National Park to assess fracking risks, saying it’s seriously concerned about plans for potential oil exploration near the site.

Gros Morne, with its glacier-carved fjords, waterfalls, sandy beaches and spectacular cliffs, is a hiker’s paradise that was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987.

But there are growing concerns about a proposal by Shoal Point Energy Ltd. and Black Spruce Exploration, a subsidiary of Foothills Capital Corp., to hunt for oil in shale rock layers in enclaves surrounded by the park. The plan involves using hydraulic fracturing — the contentious so-called fracking process — to drill several exploration wells on Newfoundland’s west coast in the Green Point shale near Gros Morne.

Click here for Link

15. CBC Hamilton: Full speed ahead for demolition on Gore Park
Paul Wilson

The two white buildings at centre, both from the 1870s, will soon no longer be part of the Gore Park backdrop. (Paul Wilson CBC)

Crews from Budget Demolition are about to roll into Gore Park. You can expect to see their hoarding go up before this month is done.

Two years ago, the same company knocked down a narrow century-plus building on King East, south side of the street, across from the fountain. They made the place disappear fast.

So they’ve been asked back, this time to take care of the buildings right next door, No. 24 and No. 28. They too are old, from 1876 and 1874 respectively. When they went up, Canada still hadn’t celebrated its 10th birthday. Alexander Graham Bell had just made his first phone call. A train had just crossed the continent in a blistering 84 hours.

So, yes, those buildings are from another time. And the owners say that time has passed. They declare that the structures are beyond repair.

Last fall, David Blanchard and partners announced plans for a big development on that south side of Gore Park. They now own most of the block bounded by King, James, Main and Hughson and propose to fill it with a complex that would include retail, commercial and condos.

One sure thing

When pressed for a value of this project, they put it at $120 million. But they admitted that was a rough estimate indeed. There was much yet to be worked out.

Of one thing, they were sure. They said five old buildings had to go to make way for this big plan.


Click here for Link

16. Fergus-Elora News Express: Built heritage needs to be conserved
Beverley Cairns (Area representative and board member of Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Guelph/Wellington Branch)

To the Editor:

In examining the Terms of Reference of the new Managing Director of Planning and Development Services, I am delighted to see that heritage and outreach to the public are clearly specified under “major responsibilities.”

The appointment of the former firector of planning, Mr. Brett Salmon MCIP, RPP, to the Township’s senior management team in the above stated position makes it clear that he is a professional planner. It is acknowledged that responsible planning includes managing cultural and heritage resources.

I believe there is no question that Mr. Salmon is qualified and capable of managing the identification and protection of our Township’s heritage resources within the existing legislative and municipal official plan framework.

The strong legislative framework enacted to protect and identify Ontario’s cultural heritage resources exists. This important legislative framework is created by the Ontario Planning Act and the Ontario Municipal Act, together with the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Click here for Link

17. Hamilton Spectator: Urban Growth - Before the boom
Christopher Hume

Hamilton is on the brink of a renaissance, writes architecture critic Christopher Hume. Will the city have the foresight and courage for thoughtful planning around growth and design? Can Hamilton find its version of the Guggehneim?

Stelco Tower


It's a long way from Hamilton to Bilbao, but the two communities have much in common. Both are port cities of about 500,000 with sooty industrial histories. Like Hamilton, the Spanish town was an important steel-making centre. Bilbao also boasted a large ship-building industry. But when manufacturing began moving eastwards to India and Asia in the late 1970s, the city was left facing a bleak future.

Now, of course, Bilbao is the world famous as the home of the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the spectacular titanium-clad structure has vaulted that city into the ranks of Europe's most desirable destinations. Generally acknowledged to be the most important piece of architecture of the late 20th century, Gehry's extraordinary building transformed Bilbao, and just as important, how the rest of us see Bilbao. The figures tell a dramatic story: in 1995, two years before the museum opened, Bilbao received 25,000 visitors. Today, that number has increased to roughly one million annually.

Unlike Hamilton, Bilbao benefitted from enlightened "senior" governments that not only recognized the value of excellence but were prepared to pay the price. That's not going to happen here anytime soon. No one expects Queen's Park or Ottawa will suddenly find wake up and start to invest in Canadian cities. In this country, cities are constitutional orphans left to fend for themselves without the legislative or economic means to do so.

But even without a Guggenheim, Hamilton is poised on the brink of a renaissance, one that will change the face of the city forever. Though nobody expects a single building will do for Hamilton what Gehry's did for Bilbao, no one should underestimate the power of architecture and planning to remake the city and its image.



Click here for Link

18. RaiseTheHammer: Hume Tells Hamilton to Start Thinking Like a City
Ryan McGreal


I've been saying for years that the Hamilton Spectator needs a regular columnist in the vein of Chris Hume, an urbanist who analyzes local events and initiatives in the context of how cities actually work (or not). This past Saturday, the Spec got Hume on loan for the day with a guest column on the opportunities and challenges Hamilton faces "on the brink of a renaissance".

There's plenty to debate in Hume's treatise, including his suggestion that Hamilton should borrow a tactic from Bilbao, Spain and invest in an iconic world-class building that will attract a million tourists and transform perceptions of our city.

Click here for Link

19. Regina Leader-Post: Preserving historic schools in Sask. - Gravelbourgh trying to preserve structure
Emma Graney

Balfour School at 1245 College Ave. in Regina, Sask. on Sunday June 16, 2013. Photograph by: Michael Bell , Regina Leader-Post

When it became apparent the Prairie South School Division would have to amalgamate Gravelbourg Elementary School with the local high school, it was faced with a choice - what to do, eventually, with the heritage building housing the school; a towering, brick former convent built in 1917.

With four stories of stained glass windows, hardwood floors, winding banisters and ornate touches typical of French-Canadian architecture, the school is now simply too large to maintain for a student population of 142.

 That was 18 months ago. In a bid to preserve the structure, the school board consulted with the community, leading to the formation of a group of volunteers who are now pulling together a list of development options - a seniors care facility, or perhaps condos - and feasibility studies.

Sonja Dahlman is heading up the effort, and says the school board's proactive approach was welcomed with open arms.

"Because there's a long-term plan, it gives us time to salvage the building," she explains.

Click here for Link

20. The Moose FM: No Permit for Drilling for Hydro Plant at Bala Falls

Mayor of Muskoka Lakes Involved in Incident at Bala Falls:

BREAKING: Mayor of Muskoka Lakes Involved in Incident at Bala Falls: Says Drilling Work is Happening Without Permission

Township of Muskoka Lakes and the Ministry of Natural Resources are in court next week June 28, over whether MNR acted properly in granting rights to Swift Energy Limited to construct a hydro plant at Bala Falls. 



Click here for Link

21. The Vindicator / (Youngstown, OH): Architectural firm plans a $4-million-plus rehab project to a downtown building
David Skolnick

Architecture firms $4M Wells rehab project awaits appraisal, financing

The Wells Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was last used about 30 years ago as an Armed Forces recruiting facility.

Strollo Architects is ready to start a $4 million- plus rehabilitation project of the long-vacant Wells Building to turn it into the company’s new headquarters with 12 apartments on its upper three floors.

But the work won’t happen unless the company gets a “reasonable” appraisal on the downtown property at 201 W. Federal St.; obtains financing for the project, which largely rests with the appraisal; and is able to meet and afford the requirements of state and federal agencies, which will provide $1.8 million in tax credits once the project is completed, said Gregg Strollo, the company’s president and principal.

“We’re looking at what we can afford and finance,” he said. “If the appraisal doesn’t work for the project, we may appeal to the state to make changes” to reduce the cost.

The architectural firm should have answers to all of those concerns in the next 30 days, Strollo said.

He called the state and federal restrictions “tough, but doable.”

Without the state and federal funds, the project won’t happen, Strollo said. Work on the project must begin by August or the tax credits can’t be used, he said.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service oversee the state and federal tax credits, respectively. The state is offering $1 million, and the federal tax credit is $800,000.

Strollo and Kirk E. Kreuzwieser, the company’s vice president and principal, say they are confident everything will work out, and once it starts, the project will be finished in less than nine months.

The 96-year-old building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and features white-glazed terra cotta, swags, urns and vases on its exterior. It was last used about 30 years ago as an Armed Forces recruiting facility — a couple of its basement windows still have recruiting posters.

Click here for Link

22. Montreal Gazette: Uncovering Canadas first industrial neighbourhood
Marian Scott

Workers have discovered the remains of a piece of the citys gaslight history

Archeologist Martin Royer takes measurements next to the foundations and the lower walls of the old gas reservoir on the corner of Ottawa and Ann Sts. last week. Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf , The Gazette


Archeologist Bernard Hébert peered down at a vast open pit in Griffintown, where colleague Martin Royer, wearing construction boots and a hard hat, was examining the remains of a circular wall.

 “He’s measuring the thickness of the walls. He’s looking at how the bricks were laid with mortar. And how the whole thing was held together, what foundations the bricks were resting on,” explained Hébert, a consultant with the Quebec Culture and Communications department.

 Workers excavating for a condo tower at Ann and Ottawa Sts. last month uncovered the remains of a huge gas-holder used to store the fuel that lit Montreal’s streets back in the gaslight era.

 As bulldozers kept digging away at the buried structure, local residents and heritage advocates worried the vestiges would disappear before archeologists had a chance to examine them.

 But now, a team of archeologists hired by Prével, the company that owns the site, is conducting an in-depth survey of the remains, which bear witness to Griffintown’s role as Canada’s first industrial neighbourhood.

Click here for Link

23. Expert reports dispute the true cost of restoring Preston Bus Station
Ed Walker

The Bus Station and car park are in the brutalist style of architecture, popular in the 1960s

Estimates on how much it would cost to restore Preston’s iconic bus station could be “significantly lower” than previously thought.

The argument for not restoring the building, estimated at a maximum cost of £23 million by consultants, and demolishing it to build a new one, has centred around the restoration costs.

But alternative reports claim serious flaws in the Jacobs Engineering Group report, prepared for councillors to decide on the future of the building at a December 2012 council meeting, which worked out restoring the Bus Station would cost a minimum of £17 million.

A replacement Bus Station, which would see the original building demolished, is costed by Jacobs at between £8.9 and £9.2 million depending on whether the North or South side of the land was used.

A number of reports prepared for English Heritage contradict the Jacobs report and state “for a building of this age the structural condition is quite good and better than expected.”

These are the words of senior structural engineer Keith Weston who works for the Heritage’s conservation engineering team.

He goes on to write in a letter on 15 February 2013: “The defects are a small proportion of the overall construction and I would have thought that the cost of repairs will not be unreasonably high. “The structural condition of the building does not make a good case for demolition.”

Another report prepared for English Heritage goes further in its criticism of the Jacobs report.

Dr David Farrell, who founded Rowan Technologies in 1991, also states the current condition of the Bus Station is “better than described in the various reports.”

He says in his report “the cost for repairing the damaged reinforced concrete elements within the structure is likely to be significantly less than that given in the reports.

“With suitable repairs Preston Bus Station and car park could enjoy an extended life of 50 years.”

Click here for Link

24. Advocates break ground on Alvah Kittredge House rehabilitation
Patrick Rosso

(Patrick D. Rosso/ A view of the structure from the front.

A bit of deteriorating history will be preserved in Roxbury after Historic Boston Inc. broke ground on the rehabilitation of the Alvah Kittredge House Tuesday afternoon.

Located on Linwood Street, the Greek revival mansion boasts more than 6,000-square-feet of living space with its towering columns, elegant façade, and winding staircases.

It was constructed in 1836 by Alvah Kittredge, a Roxbury alderman, famed furniture maker, and deacon at the Eliot Congregational Church. It has also been called home by a number of famous figures including Nathaniel Bradlee, a prominent Boston architect.

On Tuesday, representatives from Historic Boston, a real-estate development nonprofit, and city leaders, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino, announced the $3.8 million effort to remake the property.

Click here for Link

25. Estonia Public Broadcasting: Seaplane Hangars, Narva College Triumph at Concrete Awards
Estonia Public Broadcasting

Photos: Concrete Association

In a year that saw a number of landmark concrete buildings, the heavily favored seaplane hangars and the Narva branch of the country's premier university prevailed at the annual awards handed out by the Concrete Association of Estonia.

The seaplane hangars at the Maritime Museum's new branch - a renovation of historic structures from the late tsarist era - won first prize, and the special award for architectural concept went to Narva College of the University of Tartu.

The structural engineers of the seaplane hangar project were Karl Õiger and Heiki Onton. The original structures were designed and built between 1915 and 1917 by a Danish company, Christian & Nielsen, as part of the former Miinisadam harbor. "The so-called thin shell construction is one of the most outstanding achievements of its time in terms of both theory and practical usage of reinforced concrete," the association said in a press release.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

See Also

Seaplane Harbor Claims International Prize - 2013 grand prix of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage

26. Los Angeles Times / Pasadena considers converting historic YWCA into boutique hotel
Joe Piasecki

Officials are negotiating a deal to restore the 91-year-old vacant building, designed by one of the country's first female architects, in the city's Civic Center.

Pasadena officials are negotiating to turn the vacant YWCA headquarters into a hotel using eminent domain. (BRET HARTMAN, Bret Hartman / Los Angeles Times / April 15, 2010)

Pasadena officials are negotiating a proposal to convert the city's long-vacant former YWCA building into a 150-room boutique hotel, the city announced last week.

Completed in 1921 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the three-story building near Pasadena City Hall was designed by Julia Morgan, believed to be the country's first independently practicing female architect.

 Morgan also designed Hearst Castle and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building.

The city invoked eminent domain to acquire the former YWCA from a Hong Kong investor for $8.3 million in April 2012 after it stood vacant at Marengo Avenue and Holly Street for 14 years.

Click here for Link

27. Pryor Brown - Can a Parking Garage Be Historic
Jack Neely

KnoxvilleUrbanGuy - Pryor-Brown Parking Garage, Knoxville, June 2013

Only one historic building has been demolished downtown in this century. Three more proposed demolitions of intact pre-war buildings have come to the fore in the last few days. Up this week, before the Downtown Design Review Board, is the Pryor Brown Parking Garage.

Some scoff at the very idea that a parking garage might ever be “historic.” I’d certainly like to sympathize with the scoffers.

I’d be happy if we could find a way to believe that parking cars was irrelevant to American history. But parking does seem extraordinarily important to a great many. In terms of the amount of money and real estate we devote to it, parking automobiles may be more important to Americans than music, or football, or religion. Looking at how we use our resources, historians of the future may get the impression that parking our automobiles is the main thing we did.

The National Building Museum in Washington recently hosted a display about the history of parking garages called “House of Cars.” I missed it, but it was said to be unexpectedly interesting. No one knows who invented the parking garage, or when the first one appeared. But it looks like there aren’t many in the nation that are older than Pryor Brown. It was built in two stages, 1925 and 1929. The building once hailed as America’s oldest parking garage, a 1918 structure in Chicago, was torn down eight years ago, after a long controversy. The oldest known parking garage in Los Angeles—a city that owns up to the value of parking garages—dates from 1925.

Whether it’s one of America’s oldest or not, Pryor Brown is not just a parking garage, and that’s why it has become relevant in recent years, in discussing the future of downtown. It’s a mixed-use parking garage; it contains several street-level commercial spaces, used by a variety of businesses over the years, from print shops to beauty parlors to travel agents.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

see also, A Discouraging Day for the City

28. Minneapolis Star Tribune: $10M house ready for wrecker


JEFF WHEELER " Star Tribune file I N T E R E S T I N G , Y E T D I F F I C U LT: Finding buyers for architecturally significant homes such as this one, recently purchased by Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, can be problematic, industry experts say

It could become the teardown of all teardowns in the Twin Cities.

Months after paying nearly $10 million for one of the most architecturally distinctive homes in the metro, the buyer of a 8,500-squarefoot Wayzata house — originally built for the head of Dayton Hudson Corp. — wants to replace it with an even larger one.

The home’s new owner, Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, made his plans public when his team of architects presented plans for the house last week to the Wayzata Planning Commission. MacMillan is exploring the possibility of moving the house, which was designed by internationally renowned architect Romaldo Giurgola, but ultimately could demolish it.

“I wish there were people interested in holding onto these homes, but it’s hard,” said Dan Nepp, MacMillan’s architect. “But how do you deal with a house that does not have a market for it?”

The purchase of the Giurgola-designed house was the most expensive housing transaction in the Twin Cities last year. The central element of the structure is a 24-foot cube with carefully placed windows that capture light — and views — at all times of the day. A series of whimsical, curved sections unwind from that cube, spreading those living spaces into the lush, shaded yard.

MacMillan declined to be interviewed but agreed to share information through his architect. He is seeking to replace the Giurgola house with a 9,095-square-foot stone and wood home that would be connected to a 2,086-squarefoot guest/pool house by a breezeway with an outdoor dining area, fireplace and kitchen. At the lake’s edge, there would be a 250-squarefoot boat house, docks and a small beach. MacMillan is asking to exceed building height requirements and is seeking to combine two parcels into one, totaling 7.1 acres.


Click here for Link

29. New England Cable News: Maine meeting house put on endangered historic places list
y Sinclair

The Abyssinian meeting house tells the story of Portland's 1st African American residents

The Abyssinian Meeting House was a spiritual center in Portland, but now it needs funding to be preserved for the future. Credit: Katie Uffelman/AP

The National Trust For Historic Preservation has just released its list of 11 most endangered historic places in the United States, and two of those properties are in New England - Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard and a little known meeting house in Portland, Maine.

Were it not for the plaque out front, most people would pass right by the tired looking building on Portland's Newbury Street. But the Abyssinian meeting house tells the story of the city's first African American residents.

"Often because we're one of the least racially diverse states in the United States, we overlook this history," said Mike Brennan, Portland's Mayor. "But this building is a critical story we need to tell."

Built in 1828 by free blacks, it is the third oldest African American meeting house in the country.

It served as church, school, and refuge to slaves who were making their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. When it closed in 1917, it was converted into tenement apartments and was very nearly torn down until the Committee To Restore The Abyssinian bought in the late 1990s.

Click here for Link