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July Eyesore

Behold the proposed new addition to the suite of glass boxes on Granville Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia. O Canada! Are you trying to out-do the stupidity and vulgarity of your neighbor to the south? Apart from the obvious perversity of cantilevering over the  historic Province House — an early legislative building — note the sheer dazzling hideousness of the first nine stories with their  Darth Vadar style bays. Someone, please call a witch-doctor or an exorcist. Nothing else will avail in this shameless age.
Thanks to Craig Hamm for sending in this humdinger.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

11 Responses to “July 2014”

  1. hiruitnguyse July 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    So the idea is to uglyfy the classic structure as much as possible, and hope it is destroyed when the pile of shit falls down upon it.

    Violate Nothing But the Best by KOTS comes to mind.

    The cantilevered structure is poor engineering, and always portends the same future outcome.

  2. officiousintermeddler July 2, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Wait a minute! You’re giving too much credit to the hideousness of the first nine stories. Dazzling, yes, but the hideousness of the upper stories (especially the side shown on the left in the photograph) deserve some mention, too.

  3. johnmassengale July 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    It’s a trend: @ the Art Students League http://therealdeal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Cantilever-Barnett.jpg & @ the Park Avenue Christian Church http://online.wsj.com/news/interactive/CHURCH0921?ref=SB10001424127887324492604579087520917628200, both in NYC. After the Art Students League spent most of the money the developer paid them for their air rights, they took another $25 million to allow the cantilever.

  4. BuffaloChuck July 3, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    Holy crap. Against my natural proclivities, I’ve become convinced that most architects still live in their own delusional bubble / echo chamber. The problem is, the profession, like most human activities, tends to be self-selecting. And the folks inside the bubble don’t even know they’re inside it.

  5. 1961shep July 3, 2014 at 6:05 am #

    Had to sign up just to give my opinion as a guys who lived almost 20 years in Halifax…UGLY is too kind of a description.

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  6. Thane July 3, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    As a resident of Halifax I too find this an architectural abomination. May I please point out however that is not the provincial legislature building called province house under the cantilever. Rather it is an example of Classic Greek Revival style banking hall reminiscent of Halifax’s more prosperous days. Built in 1906 for the Bank of Commerce (now CIBC) it was designed by the Detroit firm of Albert Kahn with Ernest Wilby.associate. Kahn is known for his contribution to North America’s industrial architecture, once known as the Architect of Detroit..
    The actual Province House sits south of this vantage point on the adjoining block, out of the camera, a building of Palladian construction from almost a century before this bank building.
    I do love your blog.

    • Tom July 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

      Thanks, Thane, for the clarification of the historic building. I guess it’s still in private hands? When I wrote my comment below, I thought it was a municipal or provincial structure.

  7. Being There July 4, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Yup, we are having a profound influence on Canada in all ways financial and of course energy. (hope they don’t privatize their health insurance)

    They are in the process of destroying their gorgeous lands and aboreal forests in their developing of tar sands.

    So why not do this too? It is, I’m sure supposed to be a clever and ironic juxtaposition, but instead looks hideous.

    Thanks for posting—-

  8. AKlein July 7, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Just another odious example of what JHK calls “starchitecture.” What really strikes me is how these “works” are devoid of any genuine ideas or creativity. In the absence of creativity, weirdness must suffice. Mission accomplished.

  9. Tom July 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    This months Eyesore left me at a loss for words (for awhile, I recovered).

    I first visited Halifax in 1970 or so. It was a charming, if a bit down at the heals, port city at that time. The only recent blight on the landscape was Scotia Square, a new citadel of offices and retail that looked inward, ignoring the city, a bit like Copley Place in Boston in function if not form. I stayed at the aging Lord Halifax Hotel, filled with pensioners, though my room was nice. They provided a candle in a little stand with a small box of matches, . (Now it’s called “The Lord Halifax Hotel and Suites.” Probably the pensioners are gone.)

    The hotel is adjacent to Spring Garden Road, which was a bit like Newbury Street in Boston with low rise smaller specialty stores back then. When I visited about ten years ago, Spring Garden had several large new mid-rise buildings with rakish floor by floor setbacks. I stayed with friends in a condominium high-rise nearby. The scale of the street had changed.

    Now comes the above eyesore with a whopping “set-over.” Who got the payoff on the air-rights for this thing? The city? Forty years ago the downtown was inviting. What we have here is a looming sword of architectural Damocles. This goes beyond what I call “The Tipsy School” of architecture, to something deeply foreboding. Are the city fathers (and mothers too) aware that what they should have done with this historic building is keep the high-rises away from it with low and mid-rise zoning to preserve its urban context.

    Context? What’s that?

    Footnote: I looked at a satellite photo of Halifax. The waterfront, which has some nice attractions and historic properties, alas seems to have an alarming amount of space taken up by parking lots.

  10. darrenhfx July 18, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    I’m from Halifax myself and there has been a slow creep of office towers and related facilities into the historic downtown core over the last 40 years. Most of it has been poorly designed and has absolutely no relationship to the street and sidewalk offering many a block barren of anything meaningful. Bad decisions have extended consequences unfortunately. There are a few gems that do remain and I do hope that they don’t get encased in a similar fashion as this architect’s conceptual image.

    The old Bank of Commerce building is on the NE corner of Granville & George Streets and its wort a look on Google Streetview to get an idea of the current context (and the office tower creep).


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