Comment 73515

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 31, 2012 at 06:52:30

The HWDSB has no track record of retrofitting anything they own to accommodate growth, or to modern spec. Take a look at all the schools they've closed, torn down, then rebuilt (Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria); take a look at all the schools they've closed then sold off (Dundas District, Central Park, and now all the high schools in Dundas and Hamilton, and schools on the mountain). Some of it makes sense because they were too small, poorly sized and proportioned; some don't. Sadly it's cheaper to tear it down and rebuild than it is to retrofit. Or, when we do retrofit it's sometimes at a premium (for example, the above-market leases the City enters into to save places like the Lister).

To be honest, I really don't care about the building at 100 Main. It's a neat looking building, but if tearing it down and rebuilding something that's more efficient and made for modern technology (that's a big deal in heritage buildings - most were made for old power spec, boiler heat, and very drafty, not network cabling, forced-air HVAC, double-pane windows, and so on) is the answer, then I say do it. I'd disagree with a previous poster on the inventory of heritage buildings relative to our size - check out all the period-piece movies filmed downtown, in Dundas, on Barton, Durand, etc) but it would be nice to see how we stack up.

I love to see some of our old buildings and the amount of detail in some of them. My girlfriend also notices the little things when we go on walks in the various neighbourhoods. I don't like to see the nondescript buildings taking the place of buildings with character. For example, Prince of Wales. That building used to have character, a soul. For those of you who had been inside, there was marble, hardwood flooring, thick wood doors, patterns in the brickwork, masonry, huge staircases, everything. The new building looks just like every other school now - institutional, faceless, easily confused with another one. Sure, they kept parts of the original building (the old scroll over the main entrance, some of the masonry...) but that's about it. The new building is much brighter, cleaner, newer inside but feels almost like a jail (the 'cell' concept reminds me of the jail cells in the TV show Oz).

So Matt, this is a case where I disagree with you. I don't see the purpose of starting a 'save the Board of Ed building' campaign after it's been pretty much decided. Put them in an unused building like the Stelco tower, the Eaton centre, or any of the other massively underutilized buildings downtown; put them in an addition at City Hall (but that should have been pondered in-depth during all the renos recently); try everything in Council's power to keep them downtown, but if they move, then they move.

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