Comment 53098

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted December 14, 2010 at 18:00:51

Undustrial

You make a number of really good points, the last of which is, "Once upon a time, we built things to last and to age gracefully. Why did we stop? And how do we get back to that point?"

I think we stopped because developers and municipal bureaucrats and politicians all seem to put money ahead of lasting contribution to society. Joe Piggot didn't build the Pigott building the way he did or where he did because it was cheaper. He built it that way because it made a statement about Pigott Construction and Hamilton. And remember, he built it during the Depression. The old City Hall, the one they tore down at Market and James North didn't need to be made of limestone and have a copper-topped clock tower, but it said something about Hamilton and its citizens.

I'm with you about bad art and bad architecture. We have a lot of it. Jackson Square is one of them. So too is the City Centre, a misguided and poorly executed pastiche of all the worst of post-modernism designed after PoMo had already been criticized for its poor design and construction. It's junk. Was then. Is now. Always will be. I know of no heritage advocate who will fight to keep it. Informed citizens don't fight to keep junk just because its old. Certainly, we can debate the qualities of a particular building is, but I suspect we would have no debate over what is simply bad architecture.

The Board of Education Building looks like it's from a 60's movie set because it is. 1967 to be exact. That doesn't make it bad, even if some people don't particularly love it. Presumably somebody said the same thing about the old City Hall in order to make a case to tear it down. The people who come in to Hamilton HIStory + HERitage to talk to me about Hamilton, many of them steelworkers (some old and friendly as you suggest), all regret its demise. Not a single person has said to me that demolition was a good thing. I can tell you that dearly departed Jack MacDonald, long time Councillor and Mayor, hated it. As I have been told, he led the charge to tear it down. I, and apparently many others, would beg to differ. But it's gone forever. Heritage buildings don't all have to have curved window tops and stone lintels to be heritage buildings. Styles change. Quality shouldn't. I think your point about aging gracefully is right on the money.

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