Contemporary design would fit area, proponent says

Alisha Morrissey
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City balks at glass and steel commercial building with condos on Harvey Road

Artist's rendition of proposed Harvey Road development.

The proponent of a Harvey Road condominium and retail building says heritage building restrictions shouldn’t be imposed on the area, which has little heritage value.

Elaine Hann, owner of Leaside Manor and Executive Apartments, says she likes contemporary architecture and that’s why she’d like to build a contemporary glass-fronted building. “We want to build a contemporary building. I don’t think anything that’s there fits there. Certainly not like what used to be there,” she says.

“There’s no reason in the world that that section of Harvey Road should be in the heritage area,” Hann says. “Do they want me to build that old building that was there?”

The area has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times, most recently in December 1992, when a fire broke out in an alleyway and left about 100 people homeless and destroyed many businesses in the area. On Oct. 13, the City of St. John’s deferred a decision on the

Harvey Road property, after expressing concerns about the look of the proposed building. The city has approved an office/retail building on the strip near  Jumping Bean and Stoggers’ Pizza, but the heritage advisory committee balked at the proposed glass and steel facade.

Hann’s proposal would see commercial space on the ground floor with five residential condominiums or apartments above. Hann and her partner intend to live in the unit on the top floor. The space is currently an empty lot.

“There’s no reason in the world that that section of Harvey Road should be in the heritage area.” Elaine Hann, owner of Leaside Manor and Executive Apartments

Hann says she doesn’t think glass is an anti-heritage building material.

“I think glass is actually a magnificent match for a heritage area, because it gives back everything that’s in the area,” she says. As well, it has been argued that the Tim Hortons store and office building across the street don’t offer much heritage value to the neighbourhood. When asked if she thinks the city’s heritage regulations are antiquated, Hann says she’d like to see them examined by cty hall with direction from residents.

“I’m not convinced that (the heritage rules) meet a growing city’s needs. I’m not convinced they’re at this stage, not an impediment to development,” she says, pointing to a recently rezoned block on Water Street as an example where the city realized there was little or no heritage value and allowed something more contemporary.

“I think St. John’s is at a crossroads where they’re going to have to make a decision about contemporary because if they take that block out of the heritage area (on Water Street)… then the precedence is set.”

   

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Executive Apartments, Tim Hortons

Geographic location: Harvey Road, Water Street

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  • fred
    November 08, 2010 - 11:05

    sorry, i don!t believe it fits sure looks like a wonderful design though ,, may be they could fit it in on the opposite side of the road ,SORRY. i further believe this blog has been overloaded by ..YEA votes ,gathered to give the go ahead favor....

  • Judith Robertson
    November 04, 2010 - 11:31

    Elaine Hann is a veritable Newfoundland treasure, as her track record at Leaside Manor attests. Once again she proposes to bring her considerable industry, aesthetic, vision and care to a section of down-town St. John's badly in need of architectural inspiration. Her proposed structure promises to reinvigorate a street-scape, while at the same time extending the margins of typical indigenous architecture that can sometimes leave onlookers wishing for something more fresh or startling, and forward looking. I find the rhythm and balance of the structure totally in keeping with "heritage" design, and as for the glass exterior: what better material to reflect and refract the hills, sea and sky that give the city its lovely signature? Judith

  • Judith Robertson
    November 04, 2010 - 11:30

    Elaine Hann is a veritable Newfoundland treasure, as her track record at Leaside Manor attests. Once again she proposes to bring her considerable industry, aesthetic, vision and care to a section of down-town St. John's badly in need of architectural inspiration. Her proposed structure promises to reinvigorate a street-scape, while at the same time extending the margins of typical indigenous architecture that can sometimes leave onlookers wishing for something more fresh or startling, and forward looking. I find the rhythm and balance of the structure totally in keeping with "heritage" design, and as for the glass exterior: what better material to reflect and refract the hills, sea and sky that give the city its lovely signature? Judith

  • deb brock
    November 02, 2010 - 19:44

    The building proposed provides a transition that St. John’s could truly benefit from. The passion utilized in the more recent efforts of preservation should be applauded. Now, however, we need to apply the same intensity of passion towards an exciting blend of the new with the wonderful old. Good for you Ms Hann. Good for you to encourage this wonderful old city to look forward. Old laurels are just that, old, unless they are embraced with courage to forge beyond and be used as a foundation from which we can look both behind as well as forward. I hope the council reconsiders by trusting the new with the old. Lines from an old poem float through my mind… “make new friends, but keep the old, these are silver, those are gold”. Indeed, Historic St. John’s is a treasured old friend we dare not loose. Even so, to keep her tied only to the past will stale her. We must let her mature into the future as well and befriend us in new ways.

  • Dianne Gartley
    November 02, 2010 - 13:14

    This proposed structure for Harvey Road is a thoughtful, beautiful and gutsy addition to the cityscape, providing some much needed multiple-unit housing in the rapidly growing and squeezed core of downtown St. John’s. The use of glass cladding (probably the greenest building material available today) is a brilliant design element for it is always reflecting the changing sky and colourful street life (as long as the developer avoids using coloured glass). Clearly, the scale and proportions of the proposed building is in sync with the vernacular wooden structures in the city, the rows upon rows of colourful of vertical homes in the east end, as well as the Victorian limestone and Art Deco stucco structures along the commercial strips. While making no claims to be modest, this well-designed piece of 21st century architecture would blend respectfully into the neighbourhood, and become part of the charming and idiosyncratic fabric of classic architectural styles found throughout the historic city of St. John’s. Dianne

    • Dan
      November 02, 2010 - 19:40

      What is the point of creating a plastic Disneyland heritage by rebuilding fake Victorian buildings - especially on a vacant site, on a street where any pretensions of quaint tradition have already been killed by a pre-fab, Tim Hortons and a very architecturally-bland, brown glass office 'box'. In this scenario, modern buildings are more authentic and relevant, especially if the design is inspired and informed by the heritage styles that came before - as is the case here through the use of proportion, colour and position of the stepped facade. Progress on these terms should be encouraged.

  • Andy Perlis
    November 02, 2010 - 09:08

    Tim Horton's building and parking lot dominate the neighborhood. It has no place in such a important location. (If it belongs anywhere). The area is unsalvageable until Tim's is gone. Whatever takes its place will be, and should be, the keystone architectural feature to which to build a neighborhood around. Yes-mixed use is the way to go.

  • Mike
    November 02, 2010 - 06:50

    Oh give me a break! The people on here who think this is a bad idea should seriously invest their time, money and hot air into building a time machine and going back to the last century where they belong! And if this glass design isn't worthy of your approval, then what would be?? A building like the Rooms...which is all glass? A Tim Hortons, that is mostly all glass? Or would you rather a cold looking brick building with no windows to stare at every day while you sit in Tim Hortons, sip on your coffee and complain about progress and development in a city that really needs it?

    • Jaz Long
      November 02, 2010 - 09:12

      This bldg is considered modern architect. If the proposed bldg. could be a carefully crafted balance of intricate and complex form, with elements, that reveal a traditionalism and modern rooted in the cultural heritage and physical environment then I think that would work for this part of town. This bldg could use technology for technology's sake employing local materials such as stucco, brick, and stone - all traditional building materials to create abstract compositions.

  • Pete
    November 02, 2010 - 06:34

    This is the worst design that I have every seen. Come on guys a five year old with building blocks can design a nicer building. Lets look at some of the other new buildings in the area; Stella Burry at Rawlins Cross, Choices for Youth at Bond Street, The Fire Station almost next door, The Narrows Condos on Duckworth Street, the City tourism building on Water Street (the old Woods Candy Store), etc.. It is clear that new buildings can be built in the heritage area but yet have some modern design elements, but this proposed design is plane ULGY. Please reject this design and let them go back to the drawing board.

  • Frank Blackwood
    November 02, 2010 - 05:32

    Developpers and businessmen are tarred with the same brush. They do not look at ugliness, heritage, they only see loonies and toonies. They have torn down many heritage buildings here around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) One good sneeze and many of those buildings are gone!. We are now living in a concrete jungle with very little green space. beleive it or not, heritage shows and tells who we are and how were were, our lifestyles, our past. We are becoming a plastic generation and over time it will all melt and we will have nothing left to show for our heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador, and elsewhere. Let's save our heritage places now. Frank Blackwood Ontario

  • K.D.
    November 02, 2010 - 05:03

    What`s wrong with this council they should visit towns the same size as st john`s in other parts of the country and see for themselves the different styles of buildings that are going up and they are all jelly bean squares

  • W
    November 01, 2010 - 21:31

    If everyone else had to build to heritage standards they should too! Why do they think others should have to meet a standard, but not them? Where will all these people be parking? There is no parking in the area now and lots of traffic congestion?

  • Jayne
    November 01, 2010 - 20:53

    I think this building looks great, should be encouraged and the city should be shamed for not considering contemporary and "historic" development together. I live in the Downtown. I love it. I love the "Jelly Bean Houses" but I also think there's a place for modern architecture downtown. GREAT IDEA!!

  • W McLean
    November 01, 2010 - 13:06

    Too bad the Woolworth's site isn't considered equally deserving of a building that presents a face to the street instead of, um, another body part.

  • kent
    November 01, 2010 - 12:24

    Contemporary design would fit area, proponent says... =========================================== Is this for real?. What exactly would fit an area filled dilapitatede houses and greasy take-outs? Yeah, and the Tim Hortons across the street fits in nicely. Give me a break.

  • Not Old
    November 01, 2010 - 11:32

    I like the design of the building. I'd like to see more detailed renderings of it and I hope they add colour to it.

  • Jennifer
    November 01, 2010 - 11:14

    I agree, the building design is not attractive. I hate all of these business people with money whining and complaining that they can't get their own way. Just because you have money doesn't mean that you can get everything that you want. Who says that area has no heritage value? “Do they want me to build that old building that was there?” Yes, yes we do. I applaud the Heritage Advisory Committee for taking a stand and standing up to these business people who try and control the look of our city just becuase they have money to create buildings. "“I think glass is actually a magnificent match for a heritage area, because it gives back everything that’s in the area,” What? This statement does not even make sense. A beautiful, new, heritage building would be the only architecture that would give back everything that is in the area. As for the city's heritage regulations - they are certainly not antiquated. But it is only fair to request to have them examined by City Hall. However, if it is provided direction from residents - I believe that most will feel that we should cherish and embrace our heritage. It is part of who we are and we need to preserve it for our children and our children's children. It is our duty to provide this heritage for generations to come - so that they can enjoy St. John's in the same manner that we have enjoyed it. Just because a contemporary design may be modernized - does not necessarily mean that it is better. We should hold on to our heritage as long as we can. Just because many other cities in the world are modernizing their buildings - does not necessairy mean we should follow suit. If everyone built new contemporary buildings - eventually - our city would no longer have the heritage buildings.

  • mindy
    November 01, 2010 - 10:32

    Why can't there be a balance of contemporary and heritage ? Tim Horton's is not built as heritage and yes the rooms is by far not a very nice looking building ... it looks lke an oversized barn from across the city. The RNC building shows not a sign of heritage. If the city is so concerned with heritage why not venture out and do somehting about all the old houses and buildings that are vacant and left to fall in ruins. Drive around the city and see houses that are well below the deprication of the property and also buildings alike. Move on .... development is good for a city to thrive !!!!

  • Booboo
    November 01, 2010 - 10:04

    If you built a lego block building there it would not be as ugly as that ("architecturally designed") building that houses the Jumping Bean.Thank god they put a big coffee bean over that hideous half moon in the top righthand corner of it.

  • Bill
    November 01, 2010 - 09:46

    If you look at the other buildings that have been built on that section of Harvey Road since the last fire, those builders have tried to maintain some sense of the history of what was there before. The proposed building is totally out of sync with the other buildings in this row of buildings. Take a look at the Narrows Condos for an example of a streetscape that reflects the heritage of this city. I suspect the glass front on this proposed structure is the cheapest exterior available.

  • Mark
    November 01, 2010 - 09:16

    I think the proposed building looks great!

  • Esron
    November 01, 2010 - 08:26

    And you're saying the Rooms isn't ugly?

  • anna
    November 01, 2010 - 08:13

    I guess the Tim Horton's across the street is a leading example of heritage living. The traffic tie ups in the morning while gazing at the lovely Stogger's building really make me feel like I'm in heritage city. This council can approve a condo on Signal Hill and then try to stop a building on Harvey road. The next election can't come soon enough.

  • GETREAL
    November 01, 2010 - 08:01

    Building is contemporary and pleasant looking and should be approved. The only thing that should be "blaked at" is the stupid heritage regulations which continues to interfere with development. This isn't a little town anymore people.

  • John
    November 01, 2010 - 07:57

    As the proponents of this building stated, this area has been burnt down several times. Since the last blaze was in 1992, and the old Mercy school was torn down, there are no heritage buildings left in the area. With the development on the old Woolworths site, there is now a precedent for changing the heritage area. While the old "heritage clique" stays in power, the city will never grow.

  • J
    November 01, 2010 - 06:57

    That building maybe contemporary but it's also ugly and should not be approved.

    • stantos
      November 01, 2010 - 22:07

      I like the building design. Keep them coming.