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1. St. Johns Telegram: City breaking its own heritage rules - Decision on property owners windows latest rejection of committee recommendation
2. South China Morning Post (HK): Lessons from Kyoto on preserving Hong Kong's architectural heritage
3. Stratford Gazette: GTR Train Sheds Ten Most Endangered Spaces List
4. Viemo: Time- Animation of Toronto construction over 100 years
5. Heritage Canada National Trust Top Ten Endangered List
6. Globe and Mail: National Parks Over-developed
7. Globe and Mail: Save Bala Falls - Last Legal Appeal
8. MessyNessyChic.com: The Fake Rooftop Towns of World War II
9. The Karachi Express Tribune: Make use of old Karachi to build new Karachi
10. Edinburgh Sunday Herald: Historic sandstone buildings crumble as rainfall levels increase in Scotland
11. Globe and Mail: Save Bala Falls Appeal
12. Blog TO: Sam's Sign
13. University of Toronto: Woodcliffe Gift to John H. Daniels honours Paul Oberman
14. New York Times: Threat to a Paul Rudolph
15. New York Times: Inferior Quality of Today's Construction

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1. St. Johns Telegram: City breaking its own heritage rules - Decision on property owners windows latest rejection of committee recommendation
Daniel MacEachern

Allowing exceptions to St. Johns heritage guidelines will make it harder to preserve the citys history, say the heritage committee chairmen.

St. Johns city council Monday rejected the citys heritage committees recommendation that the owner of 133 Gower Street (the house on the right) should replace the buildings windows with ones that match other houses in the area.

Committee co-chairman Coun. Sandy Hickman — following council’s decision Monday to allow a Gower Street homeowner to replace and install windows that are different from what the heritage guidelines would allow — said Tuesday the city is breaking its own rules.

“I’m not sure that all councillors understand the gravity of the heritage of the city. That it is something that’s different from whether or not you put a 10-storey building in one area or allow a certain type of siding on Elizabeth Avenue or something different in Cowan Heights,” said Hickman.

“There is a responsibility for us as city council of this city to ensure that we maintain the character.”

It’s the latest recommendation of the heritage committee to be rejected — in March, council rejected heritage status for two downtown Salvation Army buildings scheduled for demolition and rebuilding, and earlier this year, council found itself debating whether it could allow an exception for windows at a local convent that didn’t fit guidelines, but were easier for older nuns to open.

Coun. Dave Lane, the heritage committee’s other chairman, said allowing exceptions piecemeal makes it more difficult for the city to enforce the guidelines it has established to preserve the city’s heritage, and allowing exceptions weakens the overall purpose.


2. South China Morning Post (HK): Lessons from Kyoto on preserving Hong Kong's architectural heritage
Fanny W. Y. Fung

As Hong Kong seeks input on how to protect its heritage, the Japanese city's strict building codes and preservationist mindset may be a model

Traditional houses mix with high-rise buildings in Kyoto, where strict building codes preserve architectural heritage. Photo: Fanny Fung

Walking through the streets of Kyoto today, you can still get a taste of the Japanese capital of Heian-kyo built 1,220 years ago.

The grid-patterned streets in central areas modelled after the Tang dynasty (618-907) Chinese capital of Chang'an mingle with tens of thousands of traditional wooden townhouses to create a low skyline unlike those of most major cities of the world.

And even where higher buildings are allowed, there are rules to ensure they do not obscure important cultural landmarks.

It could almost be an object lesson for Hong Kong as it prepares to enact a new policy on preserving what is left of the city's heritage buildings.

But Kazuhiro Yamamoto, chief of Kyoto city government's landscape policy section, doubts whether his city's law on architectural heritage - one of the most stringent in the world - could work anywhere else, even in Japan.

"Most of our citizens have a strong sense of preserving the historic landscape, and that's why it is easier for us to secure people's support when implementing these restrictions," Yamamoto told the South China Morning Post via an interpreter.


3. Stratford Gazette: GTR Train Sheds Ten Most Endangered Spaces List
Jeff Heuchert

Local landmark named to national endangered list

Local heritage advocates aren’t the only ones picking up the fight to save the former GTR repair shops on the Cooper site.

Announced earlier this week, the Ten Most Endangered Spaces List – compiled annually by Heritage Canada’s National Trust to bring attention to historic places either threatened or already lost – includes the much-discussed steel structure adjacent to Stratford’s downtown.

The Heritage Trust is an independent charitable body that operates under the patronage of the Governor General of Canada. Its mandate is to raise awareness about heritage conservation, save heritage properties, and engage Canadians and governments at all levels for the protection and better stewardship of historic places, buildings, and cultural landscapes.

The Cooper site was nominated to be on the list by the Stratford-Perth County branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario.


4. Viemo: Time- Animation of Toronto construction over 100 years
forwarded by Sue Dexter


A very interesting animated history of several streets and the Toronto skyline over 100 years.


5. Heritage Canada National Trust Top Ten Endangered List

Every year, Heritage Canada The National Trust puts together this list from places all across the country. Over the years many of the properties have been saved, and the publicity around being on this list helps, encourages owners and others to take another look.

So, from the Ontario governor for HCNT, hats off to the committee, and good luck to us all in saving these important places.

Bala Falls was on the 2012 list, we're down to the wire but at least we can say that at long last, the issue has received the national press attention it deserves. 



6. Globe and Mail: National Parks Over-developed
Gloria Galloway

National parks under threat, report says

From the caribou breeding grounds in the Northwest Territories to the diverse forests of New Brunswick, the country’s leading wilderness advocate says the integrity of Canada’s parks is being threatened by budget cuts, human activity and, especially, resource extraction.

A copy of the annual report of the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), which will be released Monday, was obtained by The Globe and Mail. It says the past year has seen governments loosen restrictions that protect parks from development, and drag their feet on conservation promises.


7. Globe and Mail: Save Bala Falls - Last Legal Appeal

Publics right to portage at heart of Crown-land case

To Portage or not to Portage...conflicting signs reflect conflict between levels of government

A township in the heart of Ontario cottage country has asked the province’s top court to overturn a government ban and recognize the public’s right to portage a historic canoe route at Bala Falls.

The Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments in the case on Monday. Its decision, expected this summer, could have far-reaching consequences for public projects that intersect with portages on Crown land.

In Canada, the ability to navigate rivers and lakes is protected by federal legislation. The Canadian courts, however, have rarely examined whether the act of carrying a canoe between waterways is also a public right in a nation explored and settled by paddlers.


8. MessyNessyChic.com: The Fake Rooftop Towns of World War II

The Douglas Aircraft company in Santa Barbara, camouflaged by a model town designed by landscape architect Edward Huntsmen-Trout.

They were devised by Hollywood set designers, assembled like stage props and “inhabited” by actors, but entertainment was far from the agenda. Photographed taking a sunny stroll down a seemingly suburban avenue called Synthetic Street, these ladies are actually on the rooftop of the B17 Bomber factory in Seattle Washington in 1941, camouflaged by nearly 26 acres of suburban American fakery.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese submarines were spotted off the San Francisco Bay and near Santa Barbara in 1942. The West Coast became the next presumed target, and in a short period of time, strategic wartime factories became sites for the elaborate construction of entire replica towns, complete with fake houses, roads, cars and even residents. Under this detailed walkable roof of mock suburban landscape, nearly 7,000 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses were being produced for the precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets.

Hastily assembled using burlap netting, plywood and other materials, their purpose was to hide what lay beneath and divert the enemy by fooling them into thinking their most important wartime factories were little more than quiet residential neighbourhoods.


9. The Karachi Express Tribune: Make use of old Karachi to build new Karachi
Farhan Anwar

Instead of trying (and failing) to preserve Karachis dying architecture, it is better to use old heritage sites for new purposes

Karachi Port Trust building [among] some heritage buildings in Karachi that can be used for multiple functions as part of the adaptive reuse strategy.

This idea was floated in a research paper prepared by two fourth-year architecture students at Indus Valley School, Ayesha Channa and Rushad Dastoor. Their research looks into the need to ascertain the problems and benefits in reusing old heritage students and evaluating the existing heritage laws in Karachi. 

History of heritage laws 

The traditions of heritage conservation started in 1881, when the British Lord Viceroy (Sir Edward Bulwer) Lytton appointed Major Cole as a curator for the ancient monuments of the then British India. Later, after the appointment of Lord Curzon as Viceroy, the legislation of antiquities and monuments was introduced.

From this developed the Ancient Monument Preservation (AMP) Act of 1904 adopted by Pakistan in 1947. In 1968, Pakistan passed its own Antiquities Act that retained most of the clauses of the AMP Act albeit in modified form. The act was further redefined in 1975. At the provincial level, operates the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act of 1994. 

Despite the evolution of the laws, the ground reality is that the government has yet to take any concrete steps under any of the above acts. The owners of heritage properties that are privately owned have also failed to protect the sites from degradation. In fact, in several cases, they have themselves demolished heritage sites.

Adaptive reuse 

One proposed intervention is the ‘adaptive reuse’ of heritage sites. It is a process that adapts a building for new uses and functions while retaining its historic features. For example, an old factory may become an apartment building, an abandoned stone building can turn into a school – similar to the case of Nusserwanjee building which became Indus Valley School, or an old iron bridge can be transformed into a commercial and cultural site, such as the Native Jetty Bridge at Port Grand.

There is a preference to preserve and restore old buildings into their original glory but that is neither always practical nor realistic. This is where adaptive reuse comes in since it allows buildings to retain their historical integrity while still providing the users and occupants with their modern needs.


10. Edinburgh Sunday Herald: Historic sandstone buildings crumble as rainfall levels increase in Scotland
Jamie Rodney

Scotland's unique built heritage is facing "catastrophic" and irreversible damage from the effects of climate change "within three to five years" if no action is taken, a groundbreaking conference in Edinburgh will be told later this month.

Climate change is causing deterioration of soft sandstone buildings such as Arbroath Abbey, above, and the preserved neolithic village Skara Brae on Orkney.

Hosted by the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre (STSTC), the event is billed by its organisers as "the most significant gathering of conservation and climate experts assembled ever held in Scotland".

Its aim is to spell out the extent of the damage caused by recent changes in weather patterns, mainly persistently high rainfall, and to spread awareness of the crisis facing Scotland's world-renowned wealth of historical properties and natural landscapes.

According to the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland the historical environment of Scotland is of huge importance to the Scottish economy, directly supporting around 41,000 jobs within the conservation sector, construction industry and tourism, and is estimated to contribute more than £2.3 billion per year to the economy.

Scotland has around 47,600 buildings listed for their historical and architectural interest by Historic Scotland, around 50% of them classified category A or B, denoting international or national importance.

Dr Maureen Young, a conservation scientist for the Scottish Government heritage agency Historic Scotland, one of the keynote speakers at the international event, said the more persistent and heavier rainfall patterns of recent years threatened "severe surface deterioration on many older buildings within three-five years". The worst affected, she said, were those on the east coast.

Sites such as Dundee, Montrose and Arbroath, which are "built of softer red sandstone", were at particular risk. However, she said it was still possible to save some of these sites if protective measures were radically stepped up: "If you keep the buildings [watertight], then essentially they remain pretty stable."

Young pointed to recent research by academics at Queen's University Belfast that suggested increased rainfall was leading to faster decay of building stone, by increasing levels of moisture within the stone, preventing it from periodically drying out, as intended by the original architects and engineers.

She added that air pollution worsened this detrimental effect on older buildings by allowing sodium to enter the stone. At even greater risk, Dr Young added, were historic coastal sites, such as the preserved neolithic village Skara Brae, the Unesco World Heritage Site in Orkney which, ironically, is believed by some experts to have been abandoned around 2500BC when an earlier phase of climate change caused temperatures to drop.


11. Globe and Mail: Save Bala Falls Appeal
Renata D'Aliesio

Portage ban provokes a very Canadian fight

Do we have the right to portage our canoes over ancient paths, or can the government stop us in the name of modernity?

Allan Turnbull plunges a wooden paddle into the Moon River, slowly steering his gold-coloured canoe toward the cascading Bala Falls. It’s a bright, blistering day, but the water is still a touch cool, swollen with the remnants of a late thaw and chilly spring.

Legendary cartographer David Thompson once followed this path, one of scores he explored by paddle and boat before Canada became a nation. Thompson recorded the 1837 trip in a journal, Mr. Turnbull explains over the river’s roar, his voice soon swallowed by the sound of water thrashing against the Canadian Shield.

If this was a little more than a year ago, we would stop Mr. Turnbull’s beaver-embossed canoe right here, just south of the north falls, and step out onto Burgess Island. We would heave the vessel over our heads and portage some 80 steps up a gravelly path to cross a two-lane road and enter Lake Muskoka.

But that’s illegal now, the well-worn route banned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in May, 2013 for safety reasons – the province says the waterfall, rapids and dam pose a risk to swimmers and canoeists. The government’s move has ignited an intrinsically Canadian legal battle over whether the public has the right to portage. The Ontario Court of Appeal will hear the case on Monday.

“It’s ridiculous,” Mr. Turnbull says of the portage ban, his canoe out of the water and back on his lawn. “Canoeing is iconic in Canada. It’s how the country was opened up.”



12. Blog TO: Sam's Sign
Chris Bateman

Sam the Record Man sign officially gets new home

After years of political wrangling, the Sam the Record Man sign is finally getting a new home at Yonge-Dundas Square. City council voted this morning to have the sign reassembled on the roof of 277 Victoria Street, a city-owned building on the east side of the square, and have Ryerson University pick up the bill.

The decision means Ryerson is no longer responsible for installing the sign on the outside of the new Student Learning Centre at Yonge and Gould, the original site of the Sam the Record Man store, despite building permission being granted on the understanding the university would restore the giant neon records in situ or on the outside of its library.


13. University of Toronto: Woodcliffe Gift to John H. Daniels honours Paul Oberman

Gift Honours Urban Visionary Paul Oberman

Like her late husband, the passionate urban visionary Paul Oberman, Eve Lewis (MScPl 1981) is committed to the enhancement and preservation of architectural landmarks that reflect the heritage of the local community. This commitment inspired her and business partner, Ron Kimel, to make a $1 million gift to name the bridging entrance—called the belvedere—to be built as part of the transformation of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at One Spadina Crescent.

“Paul was very much a creative city builder, who saw the potential and value in the concept of restoring and repurposing One Spadina,” says Lewis. “He and (architecture dean) Richard Sommer had numerous conversations on how that transformation could take place.” Oberman, the former CEO of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, was known throughout the architecture community for his innovative approach to renovating and preserving heritage properties. Summerhill train station in Toronto, which was transformed into an award-winning LCBO, King James Place, and the Gooderham Flat Iron Building are three of his most recognized achievements. Earlier this spring, Lewis, who took over Oberman’s position at Woodcliffe, worked along with her own real estate firms MarketVision and Urbanation, to realize her late husband’s dream to transform the entire block of Market Street across from Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market into a pedestrian-friendly environment, animated by restaurant patios.


14. New York Times: Threat to a Paul Rudolph
Robin Pogregin, forwarded by Peter Hobbs

Rethinking a Spurned Landmark

As an architect, Gene Kaufman doesn’t typically save buildings; he designs them.

But when he heard of plans to change Paul Rudolph’s celebrated but shuttered government building in Goshen, N.Y., as part of a renovation plan, he decided to step in.

“To lose a building like this would be a tragedy,” said Mr. Kaufman, a partner at Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects in New York City.

He has offered to buy and restore the 1967 building, which architecture experts hail as a prime example of raw Brutalist style and others consider an eyesore in a town known for its historic harness-racing track and Greek Revival, Federal and Victorian houses.

Under Mr. Kaufman’s plan, the government building designed by Rudolph and owned by Orange County, would be turned into a center for artists, exhibitions and community meetings. He has also offered to design a new government center on the land that is now the building’s parking lot.

Mr. Kaufman is not proposing a cash purchase, but suggests the county can afford to renovate the existing building and build a new one with the money it will save from, among other things, his discounted consulting fees and the elimination of its demolition costs.


Editor’s Note: An interesting story, but also an unusual intervention by a fellow architect in the interests of architectural culture. An offer no one could refuse from a very important firm.

15. New York Times: Inferior Quality of Today's Construction
Henry Petrowski

They Don

ARROWSIC, Me.  TO reach our house in Maine, my wife and I drive hundreds of miles on highways, cross scores of bridges and even go through a tunnel or two. And as we come down the home stretch on a dirt lane full of rocks and ruts, I am reminded of how a piece of private real estate is a microcosm of our national infrastructure.

These days the word infrastructure is mostly associated with large, extensive public works: airports, harbors and highway systems. Although they play a key role in the nations economic well-being, these facilities are too often poorly designed, built, maintained and funded.

But infrastructure can also refer to things on a much smaller scale, like private homes and their appurtenances. Thinking about the construction, aging and care of this domestic infrastructure can provide insight into how we as a nation might better respond to our mounting public works problems.

Our 60-year-old home is an example of how infrastructure can be built to stand strong, age gracefully and be almost maintenance-free. The foundation sits firmly on solid granite. From the full basement you can see how the exposed beams, joists and underside of the flooring were made of good wood, built to last.

When I see a commercial building under construction today, I see nothing like this in the materials and workmanship, perhaps because it is simply a function of finance, expected to survive only until it is fully amortized in a companys budget.

I can see the same decline in quality when I try to do work on our house. When it was built, two-by-fours were actually only an eighth of an inch short of those nominal dimensions. Today, a two-by-four is a full half-inch shy. This sort of thing frustrates carpenters and do-it-yourselfers alike, making old construction more difficult to fix and encouraging tearing down and starting over with inferior newer materials and less skilled labor. What a waste of time, effort and money  and, more important, superior infrastructure.

Our houses sturdy balloon frame is covered outside with cedar clapboards and inside with knotty-pine paneling, whose stained and varnished finish looks as good as new. In contrast, newer homes have been clad outside in shingles that have deteriorated and inside with imported drywall, which, as it breaks down, releases fumes that sicken the occupants.

Workmanship has declined in parallel. There continue to be expert craftsmen  carpenters, roofers, painters  who work with precision and pride, but they are increasingly being pushed out by cheaper labor with inferior skills (which is, of course, why the labor is cheaper). I have had paint jobs that blistered within days and had to be redone  at my expense. And I have heard and read of many analogous experiences.

This is not the fault of homeowners, but of the industries whose practices favor the use of inferior products and labor that drive modern construction: the developers, lenders, builders and Realtors who, to make quick money, have created a stock of domestic and commercial infrastructure that is a waste of resources and will not last.

I cant help but think that this experience, multiplied by those of millions of homeowners, affects how we as a country view our public infrastructure. We have seen short-term fixes and shoddy workmanship at home, and we see our bridges and roads the same way.

Understandably, many people wonder about throwing good money after bad. They wonder why hastily repaired potholes reappear in weeks, if not days; why a newly repaved highway feels like a washboard; why a bridge that seems to be perfectly serviceable is being replaced when the road leading to and from it appears to be in worse shape; and why it seems to take forever to complete a highway project.

We do not have to be citizen-craftsmen who work on our own homes to know that it does not have to be this way. And we do not have to be homeowners or highway engineers to know that good materials are better than poor and a job done well from the outset will outlast one done shabbily.

As we debate how to pay for infrastructure, we should also have a discussion about raising expectations for what were buying. Homeowners, project managers and legislatures alike must call to account suppliers and contractors who do not produce the quality of materials and work they promise. A roof or road that does not meet agreed-upon standards needs to be redone, at the irresponsible partys expense.

Such challenges will naturally lead to delays and legal proceedings, but this is the price for getting things done right. In time, doing it right the first time will once again become wise and standard business practice, and we can look forward to infrastructure that looks good, works well and lasts.

Henry Petroski is a professor of engineering and history at Duke and the author, most recently, of The House With Sixteen Handmade Doors: A Tale of Architectural Choice and Craftsmanship.