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1. Toronto's Davisville Junior Public School Designation Efforts Thwarted
2. Acadian Recorder & Dennis Buildings in Halifax
3. Citys Old Post Office project gets international Architectural Review Commendation
4. Willowbank signs Agreement with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community
5. Willowbank Summer Docent Program

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1. Toronto's Davisville Junior Public School Designation Efforts Thwarted
Catherine Nasmith

On Thursday June 2, the Toronto Preservation Board voted unanimously for designation of Davisville Public School. On June 14 Toronto East York Community Council voted to defer designation indefinitely, and made no provisions for any further discussions with those wanting to find a win-win to save the building. The day after the Toronto District School Board issued an RFP for architects for the new school, with a site plan showing the existing building demolished. What has been said was that it is impossible to fit the school playground on the site and keep the existing school, but wait a minute: the site plan published with the RFP shows a huge area of surface parking, roughly the same as the existing school footprint. So the question is, what are the public priorities in this decision?

ACO Toronto (I am the President) has been working to save this building, one of those featured in a recent ACO Toronto lecture by Robert Moffatt

Architect Carol Kleinfeldt, a former Toronto Society of Architects President, wrote in support of the designation and offered to work with the TDSB to find a solution to save the building. Following the TEYCC deferral, School Trustee Shelley Laskin refused to meet with Mod Squad reps to discuss options, or even to explain why they were dismissing the options put before them by Ms. Kleinfeldt. Councillor Matlow has agreed to meet.


At both hearings deputations against designation went on for an hour, yet not one of the deputants questioned the cultural value of the building, in fact several acknowledged its importance. Toronto District School Board staff, school trustee Shelley Laskin, school principal, Shona Fairly and parents objected to retaining the building because it’s current condition is challenging to repair and unsuitable for its current occupancy as a community school. There is fear that designation would translate into the loss of funds for a new school, even though the province has already allocated 15M to build one. The parents and school principal had put together a video outlining all the issues with overcrowding in a school that was designed for a different purpose. Clearly a new school is needed, but does that mean the old school cannot be repurposed?

The local community is of a mind that it is impossible to fit the new school, a community centre planned by the City of Toronto and outdoor recreation space on the property if the current building is kept. But wait, all that would be built before the building is demolished. And there is a very large land parcel. And alternatives site plans were presented by architect Carol Kleinfeldt to TEYCC.

I listened carefully, with a strong sense of déjà vu, so many preservation stories start this way. Yet, once a designation is in place, solutions are found. Creative energy is turned to finding a solution that does not require destruction. In this case the school might be repurposed, either by the school board or another owner. We have been robbed of the opportunity to discuss, let alone find a solution.

Letting a building get beyond repair in public ownership should not happen. Yet deferred maintenance has become the order of the day. It is akin to me as a kid walking through mud puddles to get my Mom to buy me shiny new shoes. As she rightly pointed out, the money for new stuff doesn’t grow on trees and I should not be wasting family resources. 

Regrettably the planning of a new school and community centre on the property has proceeded for five years on the assumption that the existing school must be demolished. When questioned about whether the Toronto District School Board takes cultural value into consideration in its real estate decisions it was clear culture has not been a priority. 

The province needs to give clear direction here. Provincial Ministries are required to conserve historic resources under Part III of the Ontario Heritage Act, but not school boards.


2. Acadian Recorder & Dennis Buildings in Halifax
Phil Pacey

Acadian Recorder Building from the steps of Province House
Dennis Building across Province House Square

Heritage Business Opportunity:
Acadian Recorder & Dennis Buildings
1724-1740 Granville Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Province of Nova Scotia, which owns these two buildings and a parking lot between them, has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather ideas for the future of the properties. The buildings are architecturally and historically significant, and they are important to the setting of Province House, the earliest legislature in Canada, and a National Historic Site. The buildings offer an excellent opportunity for refurbishment.

The northern part of the Dennis Building was constructed in 1842 for T & E Kenny Dry Goods. In 1863 architect David Stirling designed an expansion. This is the oldest building around Province House Square. Sir Edward Kenny, the first owner of this magnificent granite warehouse, was mayor, member of the first federal cabinet, and, along with the Fathers of Confederation, was knighted for leading Nova Scotian Catholics into Confederation. For 38 years, his son, Thomas Edward Kenny, led the growth of the Merchants Bank of Halifax to become the nations most valuable business, the Royal Bank of Canada. Following a fire in 1912, the interior was entirely rebuilt and three floors were added, clad in brick.

The Acadian Recorder Building was constructed in 1900 to house the newspaper of the same name. This is the closest building to Province House and is a registered heritage property; the decorative, eye-catching exterior is protected by the Heritage Property Act. The ground floor houses a credit union.

The Dennis Building has 32,361 square feet of floor space in seven storeys and a basement. The interior structure is steel-reinforced concrete, one of the first in Nova Scotia. The floor to ceiling height is 10 feet 8 inches, with an additional two feet of headroom on the ground floor. An extensive interior abatement project has removed interior partitions, floor and ceiling coverings, mechanical and electrical systems. A decorative iron staircase links all the floors. There are 83 windows with excellent views to the east of Province House, the Art Gallery and the trees of Province House Square; 44 windows on the north and 17 windows on the upper storeys of the west face have views of the Grand Parade; 11 windows have views to the south.
Architect William Hockey surveyed 54 Canadian conservation projects and found that The average cost & for adaptive reuse & was about 55% of that of constructing a new replacement facility. The average cost of rehabilitation for the same use was 40% replacement cost. The cost of saving facades and building behind them was 90% of the cost of a new building. A report by CBCL Limited in 2006 found that the Dennis Building could be renovated for less than the cost of demolition and construction of a new building the same size, and substantially less than the cost of retaining only the facades and constructing a new building behind. A structural engineering report noted that remedial work is needed to replace missing mortar and cracked stones, remove detached stucco at the south, and prevent water infiltration in the foundation. The entire building should be retained.
The Acadian Recorder Building has 6,900 square feet of space on three floors, and views of Province House across the street. The glazed yellow brick on the front also extends in a band with a curved top around the north side, which also has two windows flanking a chimney. The west face has many windows opening to a light well. The Province wishes to retain views over this building from the north windows of One Government Place next door; this can best be accomplished by retaining the entire Acadian Recorder Building.

Pinto Engineering states that snow from One Government Place may place excessive loads on the wooden joists and beams supporting the roof of the Acadian Recorder Building. The cost of reinforcement of the roof should be paid by the Province, as owner of One Government Place.

The lot at 1730 Granville Street has 13,252 square feet of space extending through to Barrington Street, and currently has 39 parking spaces at grade. The Province wants to provide 51 indoor parking spaces on the site for the Members of the Legislature. This could be accomplished with 1.5 storeys of parking on this lot. The Barrington Street sidewalk is 4 m higher than the Granville Street sidewalk. Any design and construction here should carefully respect the historical character and scale of Province House.

The Province says Submissions to this RFI will only be entertained that treat the Site as one consolidated lot of land development. If you are interested in only one property, please seek partners, and ask the Province by July 19 to entertain proposals for individual properties.

The Province would rent between 25 and 50% of any office space provided. The vacancy rate for Class B space in downtown Halifax was 9.7% in December, and the average net absolute rental rate in HRM was $13.27 per square foot.

Several apartment buildings are being constructed downtown. The vacancy rate in the southern part of the peninsula of Halifax is 3.1% and average rents are $794 for a bachelor apartment, $1,024 for one bedroom, and $1,445 for two bedrooms.

Hotels in downtown Halifax have sold recently for about $150,000 per room. The assessed value of the three properties is $5,257,200.

More information may be obtained here: http://www.dennisbuilding.ca, or at the Facebook group, Keep the Dennis Building.

For the RFI  Four technical reports can be obtained from Genevieve.sharkey@novascotia.ca

The deadline for completed submissions will be July 28 at 4:30 pm.

3. Citys Old Post Office project gets international Architectural Review Commendation
City of Cambridge Press Release

View from Riverside

The City’s Old Post Office project received international recognition this week when it received a commendation in the “Old and New” category at the 2016 Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects Awards in Cannes, France. “We’re thrilled to be receiving international attention on a local project that is so important to our community,” said Mayor Doug Craig. “Not only will the new digital library be an exciting community space, but also a culturally significant addition to one of our downtown cores.”

The MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards recognize planned or incomplete projects across 12 categories. The “Old and New” category features projects where a new building is being placed alongside an existing historic building or in a historically significant setting. The awards were assessed by an international jury chaired this year by Paul Finch, editorial director of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal. “We are extremely pleased to have received such a great honour for the Old Post Office Idea Exchange project,” remarked Tyler Sharp, principal and design director for RDH Architects (RDHA). “This level of international recognition is the result of a great synergy between the rigour of our design process and the great ambitions of the City of Cambridge and Idea Exchange.”

The post office project will see a complete restoration of the existing historic building along with new glass additions that will increase usable space and improve accessibility. Combining glass structures with the heritage building will allow the historic elements to remain on display while still providing a space suited to modern use.

“This is an exciting community project and a breakthrough opportunity for heritage and the future to intersect,” said Idea Exchange CEO Helen Kelly. “The building is magnificent and the revitalization will provide a dynamic space for makers, learners and readers of all ages to gather and explore.” The new digital library will offer programs and services for all ages. From 3D printers to recording suites to a teen creative space and onsite restaurant, the renovated historic post office building will be an entrepreneurial hub in Cambridge; a place for all members of the community to engage, collaborate and innovate.

For more information on the post office project, visit www.cambridge.ca/postoffice or www.ideaexchange.org. -30- 

Editor’s Note: This project has not been universally applauded. ACO continues to raise concerns because of the way the additions obscure much of riverside of the building from public view. It is an instance where the building has more than one strong public face.

4. Willowbank signs Agreement with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community
Willowbank Newsletter

At the beginning of May, Willowbank was pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom which has been teaching and demonstrating sustainable development through community engagement, as well as providing training in traditional building skills for over 20 years. The charity was founded by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of Willowbank.

The agreement with The Prince’s Foundation outlines the common goals of both institutions through education and training programmes which transform lives by building resilient communities. Both organizations promote ecological and integrated approaches to design and development that are based on traditional knowledge, innovative sustainable building techniques and best practices in urban design, architecture, planning and construction. The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community runs several courses that aim to address the growing lack of craftspeople skilled in traditional building crafts. Their education work focuses as well on sustainable planning skills, offering both an MA and an MSc in these areas. Both institutions have agreed to collaborate on research and projects and exchange students, faculty and alumni when possible.

“This collaboration with the Prince’s established initiative is the perfect opportunity to strengthen our approaches to fostering resilient communities,” said Vikki Broer, Chair of Willowbank’s Board of Directors, “It enriches Willowbank’s role on the world stage as our school programme is about to mark its first decade.”

“We are delighted to announce our collaboration with Willowbank,” said Simon Sadinsky, Head of Education. “We share the same vision ­ of transforming lives by building resilient places – and we hope this relationship will help inspire and develop the next generation of craftspeople, architects and others working in the built environment who will help preserve and shape the beautiful, resilient places of tomorrow.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, the Willowbank School offers an integrative and innovative three-year Diploma in Heritage Conservation that combines the theory and practice of conservation. Its Centre for Cultural Landscape, which builds on the experience of Canada’s First Nations and rich multi-cultural reality of contemporary Canada, also offers field schools, short courses and public lectures. The Prince of Wales became Willowbank’s Patron in 2014.

The Prince of Wales meets a Willowbank graduate for the first time, at Canada House

The announcement of the MOU between PFBC and Willowbank was made on the same day The Prince of Wales visited Canada House in London, home of the Canadian High Commission in the UK. During the visit, which was organized by The Prince's Charities Canada to highlight His Royal Highness's charitable interests in Canada, The Prince of Wales met Sahra Campbell, a graduate of Willowbank's class of 2015 who is working in the conservation field in London

Like other Willowbank graduates finding immediate successes across a range of careers, from skilled trades to design firms to community development, Sahra Campbell has made a successful transition to the conservation of historic materials. As part of her Willowbank internship in the United Kingdom, she headed the documentation team for the restoration of the Temperate House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the world’s largest surviving glasshouse of its time, and she is currently conserving the Victorian interiors of Delapré Abbey in Northampton.

To subscribe to the Willowbank Newsletter email egailb@sympatico.ca to be added to the list. 

5. Willowbank Summer Docent Program
Shelley Glia

Willowbank is looking for Volunteers!

As a not-for-profit organization and National Historic Site we are looking for individuals who are interested in volunteering their time to help share the story of Willowbank through exhibition tours, archive organization and event assistance.

Training sessions will be held on June 6, 13 and 20, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm. Lunch will be provided.

Please contact Shelley Glica at 905-262-1239 ext. 24 or at: shelley.glica@willowbank.ca.