Balsa

On Saturday I happened upon a balsa wood model of the new federal government building on Euston Street. Today I took a closer look at the artist’s rendering of the building at the construction site. I have concluded that the building will look much, much better if it is built out of balsa wood.

Comments

Marcus's picture
Marcus on May 10, 2004 - 14:57

That entire block surrounding Fitzroy, Euston, University and Queen would be of much greater benefit to the community if it were made into a “Charlottetown Public Gardens.” A few duck/swan ponds, leafy shade trees, numerous flower gardens, ornate iron fencing. Pull down those ugly office buildings that Ian Smith built back in the 80’s, narrow University Avenue down by 1-2 lanes on this stretch of old Upper Great George Street where the fire break was located. A park like this would do wonders for the whole uptown area, providing a gathering point with a bandstand, plus being located on one of the prime arterial routes, it could lead to the future greening of University Avenue/Elm Avenue.

What I can’t figure out is why the feds, in their supposed environmental stewardship, can’t “recycle” an existing, solidly-constructed, structure in the Dominion Building? Just gut the thing and rebuild the interior, add on to the back to fill in the entire block to Pownal St., if they need the space. This is a classy building — much better looking than any of the modern architecture out there. Plus they have a nuclear fallout bunker in the sub-basement which could make for a dandy server room. Put A/C in the whole building if that’s the big complaint, strip out the asbestos, etc. Why take up more land with another building footprint when you’re trying to be environmentally-responsible? Most DVA people I know can’t stand the DJM building — closed up, no windows, A/C 24-7, gloomy atmosphere. Ones who worked in the Dominion always mentioned that at least you could open the windows if it got hot.

PWGSC’s priorities are completely messed up.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on May 10, 2004 - 15:02

My unrealistic plan: abandon the Atlantic Technology Centre, and since it’s too late to undo, share the building with the Feds and eliminate the need for a new building.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on May 10, 2004 - 16:31

unrealistic was the keyword in your post Steven. Marcus should have used that word as well. What is it with islanders and their zero development stand? I was interviewed by The Guardian years ago when I was for putting the new arena / pool complex on the experimental farm. Part of my argument was that we don’t need anymore massive green space areas in this city. We are a near 15 minutes from kilometers and kilometers of beaches. We also have 7 decent sized parks in our downtown core alone. When I walk around Charlottetown I never feel like I’m in a concrete jungle and I can’t really see how any one can, am I missing something? What the heck is so wrong with constructing a new building to bring new government services directly to the island? Sure, we could redo the inside of the dominion building but why not let the city take that building over? I think that is what’s going to take place now. Eventually the city will expand into Stratford and Cornwall and with that amalgamation will come the need for a bigger municipal office complex. The dominion building would make a nice city hall if you ask me.

One thing I would like to see if one of our town squares turned into a public gardens like the one Halifax has gracing their downtown shopping district. More green space is not needed but we should be fixing up the green space we already have.

Marcus's picture
Marcus on May 10, 2004 - 18:41

Not against development — just bad development. PEI is a beautiful place but poor/cheap decisions cost us in the long run. The vast majority of apartment buildings in Charlottetown are poorly-constructed wood-frame structures which become rat holes inside of 20 years. The city should mandate developers spend up front by specifying concrete floors, brick or stone exterior, yadda yadda.

As for the block in question — there is a lack of park space in the central uptown and something should be incorporated as part of the overall plan, taking into account perhaps the original 4 squares in the downtown, now that Confed Centre took out Queens Square.

I agree — the pool/rink complex should have gone on the farm, not the campus, since it’s primarily a city-financed facility. The best spot would have been down on Allen St., barring that out at Mt. Edward/Belvedere where they originally were planning for it. It should have been 1 rink/1 pool — to replace the UPEI rink, maybe an international-sized ice surface, and a 50-metre split Olympic size pool like at Dalplex or Saint John Aquatics, MUN, etc. — not 2, 25-metre ones.

I guess my problem is the complete lack of aesthetic consideration for many buildings constructed in Charlottetown in the past 20 years. UPEI’s campus is not well-planned with buildings that don’t fit the landscape, and detracting from the old SDU campus.

This new federal building, unless it’s suitably set back from the road and landscaped properly, will only contribute to the blight on University Ave. That road needs to be 4-laned as a boulevard with a median or something from Peter Pan downtown, shade trees along its length, sidewalks on both sides, etc. And drop the tacky neon signs — follow Quebec City’s or New Orleans (Garden District) lead on this.

Another big problem in PEI is power lines — they’re butt-ugly and should be buried. It’s not like we’re on bedrock, this could be done in stages, starting with downtown and the major routes. Anyway — not anti-development at all. We need far far far superior planning and the farm should be filled in, with appropriate green spaces as needed. A few parks here and there would not be overkill. This type of planning will save the countryside from being sprawled out in Winslow, York, Milton, Mermaid, Wilmot Valley, Miscouche, etc. Everything should be orderly. The provincial gov’t could hold the ball on this one and apply appropriate rural and urban zoning laws to prevent sprawl and improve the rural-urban delineation (e.g. see Portland Oregon, or Denmark)

Add new comment