Comment 84334

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2012 at 01:27:51 in reply to Comment 84259


I worry that given Hamilton's track record with built heritage, we may end up with many shells of old buildings:

"...Facadism holds out a great temptation - it seems, on the surface, to give both sides what they want. The small, older buildings valued by preservationists appear to be saved, while the large new ones developers seek can still be built.

But while facadism pretends to a certain earnestness, it is at bottom rather pernicious. For the compromise it represents is not really preservation at all. To save only the facade of a building is not to save its essence; it is to turn the building into a stage set, into a cute toy intended to make a skyscraper more palatable. And the street becomes a kind of Disneyland of false fronts."

"This attitude may be better than treating small, older buildings with total indifference, but it is still not enough to make a civilized city. For the whole point is that [old] buildings... are not sentimental objects; they are real buildings.

"For the city is not a place of make-believe, a place of illusion where little buildings exist to be pinned, like brooches, on the front of bigger structures to which they bear only the most distant of relationships. To turn an older building of distinction into a fancy front door for a new tower is to respect neither the integrity of the new or that of the old, but to render both buildings, in a sense, ridiculous. ....This is not to say that there are not cases in which old and new construction cannot be combined successfully."

Hamilton has become a culture of many "false fronts". We call people from all over the world and the region to Hamilton for its opportunities, and then destroy their neighbourhoods and livelihoods with our parochialism.

Our life-term councillors and their shenanigans have ensured that we will never be able to move this city confidently towards the 'urban ideal' we all cherish.

Things are only going to get worse in the coming year as hyper-greed drives more short-term thinking by our fractious councillors, while the local media continues to polarize our residents by pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Under these conditions, offering low hanging fruits such as "preservation of facades" to desperate speculators would be like offering a drink to an alcoholic.

I can see our narrow bandwidth councillors - our mayors in-waiting, jump with glee at such thinking and turn this into a new mantra! and very soon, we may have butt-ugly green-glass boxes soaring twenty floors high, fifteen feet behind the carcases of old buildings lining King and James.

Facadism, is a chance not worth taking in Gore Park, or elsewhere in downtown Hamilton which has already been raped beyond recognition by the neglect of our leaders... at-least not until we manage to figure out how to get some enlightened women/men into our council chamber who know or who are not afraid to learn how to rebuild urbanism for our times and for future generations.

Mahesh P. Butani

More on the practice of facadism.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-12-22 01:32:28

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