Stephen Avenue Place Revitalization | ?m | 40s | Slate

maestro

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Whether people liked the brutalist design or not, one can't argue the benefits of replacing the bank with a restaurant. As @outoftheice mentioned, a resto wouldn't work with the current podium set up, so it had to be renovated one way or another. It's my own personal opinion, but I've never liked that podium even though I tend to like brutalist buildings in general. The glass will be more welcoming to the street level.
I appreciate the Brutalist design more as it adds layers to the architectural history of the city. I don't find one better than the other. None are exceptional to put it very kindly. There are ways to update the design and make it more welcoming while maintaining the essence of the original design. Presumably this was missed in my last post as I specifically brought up replacing the glass.

There's very little respect for modernist design today which is similar to the modernist era when prewar structures were considered dark and obsolete. Calgary has many modernist structure but most are at a precarious age where rising maintenance make it more economical to start over and position the building as a modern day all glass structure. This is compounded by Calgary being a tenants market for the foreseeable future. It has already been realized on UT how almost every reclad translates in a reflective, grey glass tower and that's what I see starting here.

I have no qualms replacing something old with something new and better. This update is contemporary to today's styles. It isn't any better architecturally.
 
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Social Justice

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I appreciate the Brutalist design more as it adds layers to the architectural history of the city. I don't find one better than the other. None are exceptional to put it very kindly. There are ways to update the design and make it more welcoming while maintaining the essence of the original design. Presumably this was missed in my last post as I specifically brought up replacing the glass.

There's very little respect for modernist design today which is similar to the modernist era when prewar structures were considered dark and obsolete. Calgary has many modernist structure but most are at a precarious age where rising maintenance make it more economical to start over and position the building as a modern day all glass structure. This is compounded by Calgary being a tenants market for the foreseeable future. It has already been realized on UT how almost every reclad translates in a reflective, grey glass tower and that's what I see starting here.

I have no qualms replacing something old with something new and better. This update is contemporary to today's styles. It isn't any better architecturally.
Great post!

Calgary has a history of ripping down 40-50 year old buildings and replacing them with whatever is trendy during that time.

See the Bijou theater as an example:



Ironically enough, it was on the same avenue a few blocks east.
 

luk_o

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Great post!

Calgary has a history of ripping down 40-50 year old buildings and replacing them with whatever is trendy during that time.

See the Bijou theater as an example:



Ironically enough, it was on the same avenue a few blocks east.
Painful. Probably #1 on my list of historic teardown epic facepalms in Calgary. I do not share the same sediment with Scotia Tower podium. Horrible street presence as it stands, kills that corner.
 

Silence&Motion

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I appreciate the Brutalist design more as it adds layers to the architectural history of the city. I don't find one better than the other. None are exceptional to put it very kindly. There are ways to update the design and make it more welcoming while maintaining the essence of the original design. Presumably this was missed in my last post as I specifically brought up replacing the glass.

There's very little respect for modernist design today which is similar to the modernist era when prewar structures were considered dark and obsolete. Calgary has many modernist structure but most are at a precarious age where rising maintenance make it more economical to start over and position the building as a modern day all glass structure. This is compounded by Calgary being a tenants market for the foreseeable future. It has already been realized on UT how almost every reclad translates in a reflective, grey glass tower and that's what I see starting here.

I have no qualms replacing something old with something new and better. This update is contemporary to today's styles. It isn't any better architecturally.
I understand the sentiment, but this is definitely not the hill to fight this battle. Calgary's downtown is still filled with dreary 1970s fake pre-cast brutalism. Save things like the CBE building or 404 6th Ave SW instead. Also, this building is not commensurate with a building like the Bijou theatre. The public, by and large, has always preferred human-scale historicist architecture to large-scale modernism - even back in the 1950s and '60s! The zeal for preserving prewar historicist buildings comes not just from a desire to preserve history, but also to retain certain qualities in these buildings that are not present in postwar modernism (ornamentation, human-scale, pedestrian-orientation, etc.). I really don't see a lot of merit in this current podium other than it represents a period of architectural history that we have many other examples of already.

Relatedly, a recent and painful loss of brutalism/modernism in this city was ATB's decision to cover up this facade with tacky "branded" siding. Hopefully the original facade is still preserved underneath and one day we can pull down the siding and wonder what the hell they were thinking way back in the 2010s.
 

maestro

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I'm not fighting or advocating preservation here at all. The revitalization has very little merit above what currently exists and the responses reflected my feelings of a general indifference or hostilities to designs that are no longer on trend. There always are those that do but, it's disingenuous to say the public by and large preferred historicist to modernism design by comparing small scale to large scale development which occurred in both eras. I don't find prewar pedestrian orientation admirable or better than today. Main floors were typically several feet above street level to allow for windows into leaseable basement areas. There wasn't much in the way of mixed uses within buildings. It worked because of the scale of streets, blocks, building orientation and, neighbourhoods that have been blown out of proportions since the post war boom. A modernized, revitalizated prewar neighbourhood today will be better than it ever was.
 

Chinook Arch

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Once again, I don't see eye to eye with popular opinion. They are replacing an interesting, Brutalist podium with an unremarkable but, fussy glass design. It's not much of an improvement. The current structure would look a lot better with new glass and getting rid of the Scotiabank signage if it hasn't come down already.
I like a little brutalist architecture here and there, but the podium for Scotia, was terrible. I always saw it as a blight on an otherwise vibrant area. What it really needed was some retail and a resto with patio, but the current podium isn't conducive to it. I'm glad they're changing it. Personally I might have gone with brick and large windows, but this will do. One thing the large amounts of glass does is it opens it up to the mall.
 

UrbanWarrior

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Yeah I dunno, this one seems very Nordstrom/Microsoft Building at Robson and Howe in Vancouver to me, and I like it. Especially since it will be really the only big glassy building on the Stephen Avenue Mall, other than the Home and Dome Oil Towers and Devonian Gardens down the street. It'll also help to activate that section of the mall which is kind of shitty currently, with one corner being a (amazing) department store, and the two others being banks.
 

AccUnit

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Man, I'm surprised that on a forum dedicated to architecture and design there are not more fans of Brutalism. The salami of styles, salty, a little dark and hard but also damn good! I would say keep the podium as is. The problem with the scotia centre is that it's a magnet for degeneracy not that it's brutalist. I don't think it's for us to say which styles and time periods are worth perserving over others, they all have their place. Who knows what future generations will value. Perhaps the impermanence of glass and spandrel will push people back toward brutalism in coming years.
 

Surrealplaces

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Man, I'm surprised that on a forum dedicated to architecture and design there are not more fans of Brutalism. The salami of styles, salty, a little dark and hard but also damn good! I would say keep the podium as is. The problem with the scotia centre is that it's a magnet for degeneracy not that it's brutalist. I don't think it's for us to say which styles and time periods are worth perserving over others, they all have their place. Who knows what future generations will value. Perhaps the impermanence of glass and spandrel will push people back toward brutalism in coming years.
I like brutalism, but I'm not a fan of Scotia Plaza's brutalism. I just don't like the general massing (the overhang is large and looming), and I believe they covered the actual beton brut with beige cement panels. Making the main floor with a pub or restaurant might make a difference, but I like the new design for brightness and open feeling. It'll also look better at night with more available light.
 

Social Justice

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Man, I'm surprised that on a forum dedicated to architecture and design there are not more fans of Brutalism. The salami of styles, salty, a little dark and hard but also damn good! I would say keep the podium as is. The problem with the scotia centre is that it's a magnet for degeneracy not that it's brutalist. I don't think it's for us to say which styles and time periods are worth perserving over others, they all have their place. Who knows what future generations will value. Perhaps the impermanence of glass and spandrel will push people back toward brutalism in coming years.
Couldn't agree with you more! Once these buildings are gone...they're gone forever.

I think these three simple things could be done to make the building more pedestrian friendly:

1. Replace the Scotiabank with a restaurant/bar/pub
2. Replace the windows and have multiple points of entry into the CRU.
3. Get rid of the fenced off flower beds and covert the front into a patio.

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.0457307,-114.0679715,3a,90y,57.97h,82.4t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1swdXvhdxhdeOq3M8RMtcSOw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
 

AccUnit

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Now that's a capital idea! Sounds like small changes but I imagine the impact would be huge.
 

Atticus

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Agreed. Of all the historical buildings old, mid century modern or 70's/80's brutalist that is probably my least favorite. It's not even really the design, it's the context + design. If that same podium was a standalone building I would like it much more, but its integration into a tall office building makes it just another lifeless office tower podium IMO. Changing the use by adding restaurants etc, would help, but to make it feel separate and not just an office tower podium, it needs a new design.

I like beton brut architecture, but I find it suits smaller, standalone purpose built buildings.
I understand the sentiment, but this is definitely not the hill to fight this battle. Calgary's downtown is still filled with dreary 1970s fake pre-cast brutalism. Save things like the CBE building or 404 6th Ave SW instead. Also, this building is not commensurate with a building like the Bijou theatre. The public, by and large, has always preferred human-scale historicist architecture to large-scale modernism - even back in the 1950s and '60s! The zeal for preserving prewar historicist buildings comes not just from a desire to preserve history, but also to retain certain qualities in these buildings that are not present in postwar modernism (ornamentation, human-scale, pedestrian-orientation, etc.). I really don't see a lot of merit in this current podium other than it represents a period of architectural history that we have many other examples of already.

Relatedly, a recent and painful loss of brutalism/modernism in this city was ATB's decision to cover up this facade with tacky "branded" siding. Hopefully the original facade is still preserved underneath and one day we can pull down the siding and wonder what the hell they were thinking way back in the 2010s.
 

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