June 2013

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june 2013 / Volume 27 / Number 3 perspective editor Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli art director Laurel MacLean by Allan Teramura, MRAIC Architecture Canada | RAIC Regional Director for Ontario North, East and Nunavut Grassroots Advocacy Speaks to the Heritage of Modernism T hroughout its lifetime, the perceived cultural value of buildings changes dramatically. When they are new, they are appreciated for being up-to-date, code-compliant and in general a great improvement over the cramped and dysfunctional facilities they replaced. However, as they age and acquire the scrapes and bruises of time, they begin to be seen as liabilities. Eventually, however, if they survive long enough, the same building can suddenly become valued as historic and an artefact. Of course this is largely the result of perception. The building itself remains unchanged and may indeed be in a progressive state of decline if not properly maintained. And yet its value, at least to the general public, changes dramatically over time. ©D This is why the City of Ottawa's recent decision to create a Heritage Conservation District, in a community consisting entirely of mid-century Modernist homes, is a breakthrough. Briarcliffe is a small neighbourhood consisting of 23 houses and a small public park that was built between 1961 and 1969. The homes are all of modernist design and were the work of local practitioners in the early stages of their careers. Most are very modest, although some feature bold sculptural gestures typical of the period. All have a deliberate and careful relationship to the natural topography and vegetation. Many are small masterpieces. As an ensemble, the neighbourhood is unique in Ottawa. To some, the plain, glassy, flat-roofed homes are uninteresting and utilitarian. Indeed, the esthetic of these homes is more about the relationship of indoors and outdoors, proportion and the quality of light, rather than ostentatious display. In our current culture of 3,000-square-foot McMansions with porte-cocheres and Gone with the Wind staircases, these homes seem puny and underdeveloped. It is for this reason that regulatory protection is needed. Eventually, as history has shown, these unloved buildings will acquire an aura of being "historic" and will be more universally appreciated. Today, few would want to destroy a well-preserved Victorian house. The story of how this District came to be created is in itself interesting. It is the result of the combined efforts of heritage planners at the City of Ottawa, supported by students of the Master of Canadian Studies Program at Carleton University and tirelessly defended by Butler House is a Registered Heritage Structure constructed in 1964 by architect Brian Barkham. the local residents. The professional community also had a role to play, lobbying City Council to support It is in that middle stage, no longer new yet not yet historic, that this initiative. At times councillors were said to have been somewhat excellent buildings are most vulnerable to insensitive alterations or taken aback by the coordinated efforts of the RAIC, OAA, Ottawa demolition. The mechanical and electrical systems may be in need Regional Society of Architects and faculty from the School of of a major reinvestment. Architecturally, the building has probably Architecture at Carleton to defend this tiny enclave. seen many tiny incremental changes, insignificant in themselves, Later, in a public address, one councillor expressed her thanks but together creating the impression of decrepitude and decay. for the efforts made by all to educate council on the significance of The crude application of window films, addition of security devices, Ottawa's mid-century modernist heritage. bad repainting and changes to lighting are typical of these kinds of The lesson learned is that grassroots advocacy does work. While changes. it requires a great deal of effort the results can be significant. The It is at this stage when the decision to demolish and replace what outcome of the Briarcliffe exercise is not just the protection of 23 is still a relatively new structure seems easy to justify. The original homes but a permanent change in the mindset of Ottawa's municipal design intent can no longer be seen and what remains seems worn. government towards all recent heritage. n anielle J ones 2013 6/  p06-07RAIC.indd 6 contributing writers Angela Altass Bill Armstrong Robin Brunet Godfrey Budd Stacey Carefoot Stefan Dubowski Jerry Eberts Laurie Jones Jessica Kirby William Mbaho Stacey McLachlan Dan O'Reilly Susan Pederson Irwin Rapoport Martha Uniacke Breen Chris Bolin Philip Castleton Latreille Delage Photography Robert Stefanowicz contributing photographers production/Studio manager Kristina Borys assistant Studio manager Mandy Lau production coordinator Julie Reynolds Advertising Production Allison Griffioen, Chris Sherwood Electronic Production Ina Bowerbank senior imaging technician Debbie Lynn Craig electronic imaging Mandy Lau, Laura Michaels publisher Dan Chapman Account Manager Alexander Sugden Advertising Coordinator Queenie Blumenthal Award Magazine – Head Office Phone 604.299.7311 Fax 604.299.9188 Chairman, ceo Peter Legge, obc, lld. (hon) President Gary Davies Senior Vice President/ Editorial & Custom Publishing Kathleen Freimond (on leave) Vice President/Finance Farnaz Riahi, ca Vice President/Sales Karen Hounjet Vice President/Marketing Holly Pateman Vice President/editorial Tom Gierasimczuk Vice President/specialty sales Rebecca Legge Vice President Samantha Legge, mba (on leave) executive creative director Rick Thibert Director of Circulation Scott Wheatley Director of Sales Operations Rhea Attar Director of Information Technology Mike Packer Director of production Kim McLane Director of digital media Raymond Yip managing director, custom publishing Mike Roberts Digital Media Piushi Ariyawansa, Kristen Hilderman, Debbie Jiang, Elaine Linsao, Lisa Manfield, James Marshall, Michael Small, Candice Ui marketingCrawford , Mark Bakker, Casey Joanne Da Silva, Natasha Gowda, Chelsea Hartmann Technical Support Analyst Brian Fakhraie Application Support Analyst Eileen Gajowski AccountingGajowski, Rita French, Eileen Joy Ginete-Cockle, Terri Mason, Sonia Roxburgh, Jocelyn Snelling Circulation Manager Tracy McRitchie Circulation Coskun, Ashley Cleggett, Millie Kelly Kalirai, Ruth Pisko, Isabelle Ringham Executive Assistants Heidi Christie, Jackie Lee Reception Maria Vlasenko Award magazine is published six times a year by Canada Wide Media Limited. Head office: 4th Floor - 4180 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby, B.C. V5C 6A7. Phone 604.299.7311, Fax 604.299.9188. Send covers of undeliverable copies to address above. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40065475. © 2012. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. Award is distributed to architects, interior designers, landscape architects, consulting engineers, specification writers, development companies and major construction companies throughout Western Canada and Ontario. For subscription information call 604.299.1023 or email: awardsubscriptions@ National Library No. ISSN 1202-5925. Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM Graphics. Award magazine welcomes your letters, corporate announcements or company information. The statements, opinions and points of view expressed in articles published in this magazine are those of the authors and publication shall not be deemed to mean that they are necessarily those of the publisher, editor or Canada Wide Media Limited. The acceptance and publication of advertisement of products and services does not indicate endorsement of such products or services. The publishers cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs.   june 2013 13-05-30 1:56 PM

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