The Smith Report: Hope for Ottawa’s Heritage Conservation Districts?

Ottawa is going through a difficult time. There is a structural flaw in its management and how it listens to its citizens, especially when it comes to protecting its heritage conservation districts (HCDs). Yesterday, the Smith Report was released, outlining the state of crisis in preserving and protecting Ottawa’s HCDs. There are key insights in…

When Architecture Fails to Speak for Itself…The Château Laurier addition.

Imagine it is 2030 and over the past decade the Château Laurier addition has been derided not only for its misunderstanding of architecture, but for the City’s poor decision to allow this decorated box to be constructed. In 2030, visitors to the Capital are surprised that a generic rectangular box, clearly struggling to relate to…

A Pillar of Conservation: Barbara Humphreys (1919-2017)

Barbara’s encouragement and support was an inspiration to me over the past fifty years. (Stuart Lazear) We had wonderful and exciting years working together on the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings. (Meredith Sykes) She was a consummate professional, a gentle mentor and a friend. (Christina Cameron) In recent years, we have sadly lost several pioneering…

Incentive for Historic Places

Years have passed since there has been attention to federal legislation for historic places in Canada. As Canada marks its 150th year, it may be the year to make a difference that would bring Canada to an equal footing with most G20 countries. A new private members bill has been tabled by Parliament: Bill C-323, an…

Heritage & Loneliness

The theme of loneliness in a digital world keeps coming up in various articles I have recently read. Last weekend’s Globe & Mail article by Elizabeth Renzetti profiled various people who are isolated in the Global Village. While the article was somewhat unscientific and selective in choosing her stories, it seems that the modern condition…

Facadism Redux?

For about 20-30 years, facadism has been a compromise between two competing views within architectural conservation. Facadism seems appropriate sometimes, at other times it appears as a false skin or veneer that hides the ‘dirty’ work of a redevelopment and destroys the place’s value. Where is facadism found? On urban streets and on campuses. Rarely…

Entropy & Heritage

Detroit Decays, Peter Van Den Bossche, Flickr, 2010.

The everyday struggle in heritage conservation is the dynamic between entropy and conservation. The former is dynamic and the later is static, and yet  this seems to be an inadequate explanation. Old-school conservation was about consciously preventing entropy or decay – whether natural or cultural. Heritage was conceived within the modernist project as preventing a…