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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:02 PM
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Press Block | ? m | 9 fl | Proposed

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Originally Posted by Jonovision View Post
Not sure if this has a thread yet but the signs went up on site with a link to this proposal for the Dennis site.

http://pressblock.ca/





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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:25 PM
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The parking garage entrance will be on the George Street side according to the elevations and floor plans. Based on past articles about this it sounds like the small surface lot north of Province House can be turned back into a garden/square space when this garage opens.

Granville Street elevation. This is not a small development. Not sure how those gaps between the street-level facades will turn out:


Another rendering:
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:40 PM
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Could be better, could be worse. The treatment of the Acadian Recorder Building is pretty bad/looming. The Dennis Building treatment is pretty good, though it does encroach/envelop the building envelope too much from certain angles.

Retaining the top three Dennis floors is a big win, however.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2020, 7:08 PM
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Losing the top 3 floors of the Dennis Building would have been really awful. Not sure if that was ever really on the table or if it was just miscommunicated (or was more of a possibility before the registration of the building). In a lot of cities, facadism wouldn't even be acceptable, let alone tearing down half of a facade on top of that. That upper cornice adds a lot of character to the area. Halifax has so many old buildings that look a bit weird because they are missing cornices.

I think the added storefronts and corner building on Barrington will make a big difference. The Dennis Building itself looks run-down and is empty these days too, and the Province House parking looks bad. The Province House and larger George Street area is one of those parts of the city that feels like it's 80% of the way to being great but has some prominent flaws. This is probably the most important vacant site in the city right now, while the Skye site is #2.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2020, 9:00 PM
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I'm a bit surprised this is all residential except for the commercial space on Barrington. I guess they have a ready-made market for 30+ units with out of town MLAs, but I remain baffled how there isn't any office space at all.

I bet those residential units facing onto Granville will be lots of fun during the periodic demonstrations that occupy Granville St.
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
I'm a bit surprised this is all residential except for the commercial space on Barrington. I guess they have a ready-made market for 30+ units with out of town MLAs, but I remain baffled how there isn't any office space at all.

I bet those residential units facing onto Granville will be lots of fun during the periodic demonstrations that occupy Granville St.
Yeah, I'm a bit surprised too. They could easily lease office space to the province there.
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  #7  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 1:55 AM
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Well it's about damn time. That horrible vacant lot has been one of the ugliest eyesores in town for as long as I can remember. It may not be the biggest hole in the urban fabric but it's one of the most visible and central.
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  #8  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 11:47 AM
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From the rendering, the floor plates of the Dennis building do not match up with those in the new structure. I wonder how they will manage that. I also wonder what they will do about the small elevator in the Dennis, or if they will retain that at all. I suppose it could be used as a raceway for building services.
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  #9  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 2:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
From the rendering, the floor plates of the Dennis building do not match up with those in the new structure. I wonder how they will manage that. I also wonder what they will do about the small elevator in the Dennis, or if they will retain that at all. I suppose it could be used as a raceway for building services.
According to http://pressblock.ca/wp-content/uplo...l-Drawings.pdf

It looks like from the floor plans that they do line up. I'm guessing it just looks this way from the exterior rendering with the floor to ceiling windows on the newer building and the smaller windows on the Dennis Building, but I'm not positive. The elevator will not be retained it looks like - I'm sure it will be gutted and rebuilt with the new building.
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  #10  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 3:59 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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One thing I do like about it is that from the Barrington Street side it looks like they are trying to roughly mimic the landmark buildings that were torn down from that site years ago, specifically the Cragg building on the corner and the Birks building further in.



Source









https://halifaxbloggers.ca/builthali...ington-street/
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  #11  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 4:59 PM
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One thing I enjoy about historic buildings is that many of them seem to have a sense of heft or weight to them that similar modern buildings seem to lack.
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 7:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
One thing I enjoy about historic buildings is that many of them seem to have a sense of heft or weight to them that similar modern buildings seem to lack.
I agree. Not so true in this case but some masonry buildings also have warmer colours than glass. Lately there's been a trend toward cold looking greys and glass.

I think this should fit nicely into this part of town, which is distinctive for its medium-scale masonry buildings. The Governor is similar.
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  #13  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
One thing I do like about it is that from the Barrington Street side it looks like they are trying to roughly mimic the landmark buildings that were torn down from that site years ago, specifically the Cragg building on the corner and the Birks building further in.
I think you are right, Mark. I've been examining the renderings and drawings for a few days now and find I like the Drexel proposal a lot. They truly have approximated the massing of the buildings that formerly occupied that site. At the Barrington/George corner the structure appears to closely match the height of the old Cragg building. For many years that building was a landmark storefront, housing the CNR's downtown ticket office. The adjacent streetwall, like the former Birks Building, is consistent in height to the 1912 Crowe Building.

I was surprised at first, like others, to see Drexel proposing a mostly residential development. But it probably makes perfect sense on a couple of levels. Certainly Halifax's residential rental vacancy rate (at 1 per cent) is much more attractive than the commercial rate at over 15%. But it also makes sense, I expect, from a structural perspective. While I could not find exact floor-to-floor heights for the Dennis building, I'd estimate them at 10-11 feet, more consistent with a residential property and well short of the 12-13 feet that is typical today for a commercial building. Certainly the 2006 CBCL report noted that floor-to-floor heights would be in issue in any attempt to restore the Dennis building to office use.

My biggest reservation with the project as proposed is the parking entrance off George Street. It seems to me that has the potential for a real bottleneck. But the only alternative is probably the area between the Recorder and Dennis buildings. And while that is now a parking lot, I don't think having a parkade entry opposite our legislative building is desirable.

As much as I'd like to see the historic buildings rehabilitated it seems to me Drexel has done an excellent job of preserving the facade of both structures within complementary new construction that will not overwhelm them.
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  #14  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 3:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
One thing I enjoy about historic buildings is that many of them seem to have a sense of heft or weight to them that similar modern buildings seem to lack.
I agree. I also appreciate the use of natural materials such as stone or wood, or materials that were made from local sources such as brick made from Nova Scotia clay (which is abundant here). Not to mention the handwork involved by the craftsman to cut the stone and carve out the ornamentation - some of them are real works of art. Then I think of how much hard work was involved in building them without much of the machinery and technology that we take for granted today. All of that goes together to give the older buildings a presence and character that can't be replicated by today's methods (which are obviously more efficient, but have lost much of the human element of the old methods).

Then there is simply the fact that much modern construction had moved towards very flat, rectangular designs to the point of being almost featureless. IMHO, the old cornices and window features with arched windows, and deeply recessed and detailed brickwork are far superior from an aesthetic point of view to a rectangular sheet of glass with prefabbed cladding attached here and there. It's just a preference I realize, but just sharing my opinion...

I do enjoy the newer buildings that strive to use better materials, like the Queen's Marque project, though. This one is looking like one of the better new projects that will fill an empty lot that has been empty far too long.
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  #15  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 3:47 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ns_kid View Post
I think you are right, Mark. I've been examining the renderings and drawings for a few days now and find I like the Drexel proposal a lot. They truly have approximated the massing of the buildings that formerly occupied that site. At the Barrington/George corner the structure appears to closely match the height of the old Cragg building. For many years that building was a landmark storefront, housing the CNR's downtown ticket office. The adjacent streetwall, like the former Birks Building, is consistent in height to the 1912 Crowe Building.

I was surprised at first, like others, to see Drexel proposing a mostly residential development. But it probably makes perfect sense on a couple of levels. Certainly Halifax's residential rental vacancy rate (at 1 per cent) is much more attractive than the commercial rate at over 15%. But it also makes sense, I expect, from a structural perspective. While I could not find exact floor-to-floor heights for the Dennis building, I'd estimate them at 10-11 feet, more consistent with a residential property and well short of the 12-13 feet that is typical today for a commercial building. Certainly the 2006 CBCL report noted that floor-to-floor heights would be in issue in any attempt to restore the Dennis building to office use.

My biggest reservation with the project as proposed is the parking entrance off George Street. It seems to me that has the potential for a real bottleneck. But the only alternative is probably the area between the Recorder and Dennis buildings. And while that is now a parking lot, I don't think having a parkade entry opposite our legislative building is desirable.

As much as I'd like to see the historic buildings rehabilitated it seems to me Drexel has done an excellent job of preserving the facade of both structures within complementary new construction that will not overwhelm them.
I agree with your points. I was first disappointed that mainly just the facades are going to be used from these buildings, but realize I don't have any insight as to the condition of these structures, and also note that adding features like underground parking requires an entirely different structure that is not conducive to preserving the original buildings structurally. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it looks like they are doing the best with what they have.

As noted, I am pleased with recreating the massing from those former landmarks on Barrington. In my perfect world they would move closer to recreating their appearance, but I realize with modern construction and cost restraints, this probably wouldn't be possible to pull off properly.
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 4:25 PM
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I had feared the worst, basically that it was all but inevitable that the Dennis building would be demoed under any plan for redevelopment so I'm quite relived to be honest. I thought it would go something like, "Cool new skyscraper proposed set to start in 3 months, existing building rush demoed to prepare. Site sits empty for two year amidst rumours of developer struggles which they deny. Several revised versions of the project appear before developer goes bankrupt, plan is canceled, and province takes over building a 3 story parking bunker.

Ok... i can kinda see why people find me pessimistic.
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  #17  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 1:05 AM
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As much as I like this proposal I suspect I'm not going to like what appears to be blank walls facing Barrington St. and the Parade Grounds above Freak Lunchbox and the next two buildings. Where I think Dexel has done a good job designing a backdrop allowing for prominence of the historic buildings in its project, I'm not sure that blank walls above the aforementioned three buildings will be doing them any favour.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 1:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Citizen_Bane View Post
As much as I like this proposal I suspect I'm not going to like what appears to be blank walls facing Barrington St. and the Parade Grounds above Freak Lunchbox and the next two buildings. Where I think Dexel has done a good job designing a backdrop allowing for prominence of the historic buildings in its project, I'm not sure that blank walls above the aforementioned three buildings will be doing them any favour.
Elevation:



Looks like it's only about 1/4 of the facade on the upper floors so it seems not too bad. It could be covered in a mural. I think the J. W. Johnston Building has a similar setup and it's hard to see from Barrington, although the site is a bit different since it's facing other buildings and not the Grand Parade.

The parkade entrance on George Street is unfortunate but I am not sure there is a better alternative.
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  #19  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 2:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
I had feared the worst, basically that it was all but inevitable that the Dennis building would be demoed under any plan for redevelopment so I'm quite relived to be honest. I thought it would go something like, "Cool new skyscraper proposed set to start in 3 months, existing building rush demoed to prepare. Site sits empty for two year amidst rumours of developer struggles which they deny. Several revised versions of the project appear before developer goes bankrupt, plan is canceled, and province takes over building a 3 story parking bunker.

Ok... i can kinda see why people find me pessimistic.
I think I would call you a realist rather than a pessimist. What you described is usually how it works out.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 3:23 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Citizen_Bane View Post
As much as I like this proposal I suspect I'm not going to like what appears to be blank walls facing Barrington St. and the Parade Grounds above Freak Lunchbox and the next two buildings. Where I think Dexel has done a good job designing a backdrop allowing for prominence of the historic buildings in its project, I'm not sure that blank walls above the aforementioned three buildings will be doing them any favour.
Yes, I agree and am wondering why this has to be a blank wall. I’m thinking there is some building code which requires this when a building backs onto a lot that could have future development (for fire code, etc.). It seems to me that this was the case with The Dillon (and they chose to put red cladding on the blank wall for some reason).

Perhaps there could be a mural in the plan, as they are showing one on the south facing wall on Barrington in the renderings.

On the topic of murals, this project will cover up the “interesting” one on the side of the Freak Lunchbox for future generations to see when this building is demoed some day. I wonder what people will think when they see it?
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