Architecture Week

This week-long celebration of architecture as both an art form and expression of ingenuity when it comes to the functional quality of our built environment is being hosted by the Saskatchewan Association of Architects.

Architecture Week runs May 30-June 3, and the theme this year is Saskatchewan Savoir-Faire.

Feature events include: a screening of the documentary Collaborations  about British architect David Adjaye (RPL Theatre, May 30 at 7 p.m.); the Lt. Governor’s Architectural Heritage Awards (Government House, May 31 at 5:30 p.m.); a public lecture/panel on the quality of Saskatchewan architecture (Royal Saskatchewan Museum, June 1 at 7 p.m.); a lecture by Norwegian architect Vanessa Kassabian (Hotel Saskatchewan, June 2 at 7 p.m.); and finally the Prairie Design Awards (MacKenzie Gallery, June 3 at 5:30 p.m.)

You can find more information on the above-linked website. And if you want to get a head start on contemplating design issues related to our built environment you can drop by the RPL Theatre on Thursday May 26. At 7 p.m. there will be a free screening of the documentary Edge of the Possible which examines the epic saga of the construction of one of the world’s most iconic buildings — the Sydney Opera House, which from initial design onward took from 1959-73 to complete. The screening is sponsored by the RPL, Regina Advocates for Design, OPEN and the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation.

To close, here’s an excerpt from the David Adjaye documentary Collaborations

Dome Report

20160516_151328Here’s a photo of the Legislature as preparations were underway this afternoon for the unveiling of the refurbished copper dome. You can read more about the celebration which will start at 7 p.m. tonight with the big reveal at 8 p.m. in this CBC report

You should perhaps dampen your expectations somewhat, though, as I don’t believe the entire dome is going to be revealed. As you can see from the photo there is still a fair bit of scaffolding that needs to be removed so I think what you’ll see tonight is the view from directly north of the Legislature.

Exciting Goings On On Scarth St. Mall

20160515_065510In early March, I did a post about the huge pile of pigeon excrement that was accumulating on the canopy of one of the office buildings on Scarth Street Mall. The pigeons were drawn to the ledge above the canopy, I noted, by the banner that had been strung on the building for a couple of years that afforded them a convenient place to shelter behind.

The banner was removed a few weeks ago, and as you can see from the above photo, a crew was out bright and early this morning (6:30 a.m. to be precise) to pressure wash the canopy to remove the baked on pigeon poop. So that’s one less eyesore in downtown Regina.

Jane’s Walk Regina

The eighth annual Jane’s Walk Regina is being held from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8. There are eight walks on this year’s schedule among them:

Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District (Led by Bernie Flaman): A look at the buildings and structures surrounding Victoria Park which provide a complete chronology of architectural styles of the 20th century.

Far Away Place, Not So Far Away (Led by Jim Elliott): An exploration of various features of Upper Wascana Lake including the history of the Saskatchewan Science Centre, Pelican Island, Far Away Place and the Habitat Conservation Area.

Design Lessons from the Cathedral Area Neighbourhood (Led by Bill Neher): A walking discussion about the components that make for a great walkable neighbourhood and what lessons we can apply in new neighbourhoods.

Walk for Peace and Justice (Led PeaceQuest Regina): An examination of the horror of wars, past and present, as well as past and present injustices in our society, and the need to work for peace and justice.

You can find out more information on the other four walks, along with the times and gathering spots here.

Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Pigeons

20160304_083915Memo to whoever owns this building on the Scarth Street Mall. If you want to reduce the amount of pigeon excrement on your canopy you might consider removing the banner that’s been hanging there for a couple of years now.

In colder weather during the day, and year-round at night, pigeons use it as a handy area to shelter behind. If the banner wasn’t there, I suspect it would substantially reduce the amount of time pigeons spent hanging out on the little ledge above the canopy and defending their turf from other pigeons.

Failing that, you might want to step up your maintenance program on the canopy because at present it’s kind of gross.

RPL 3D Printer

20151228_143706At left is a photo of the 3D printer that the Regina Public Library recently installed at Central Branch. You can find details on how to access the printer on the RPL website. But here are the basics:

First, you need a valid library card. Anyone 15 and under also needs parental permission. Then you register on the website and sign up for a training session. These sessions are held at various branch locations, and provide information on how to submit design proposals using drafting software and what’s called an .stl file (.stl is short for stereolithography).

Once you’ve completed a training session and have an account, you can submit designs to RPL staff who will review the design and provide a cost estimate. Proposed designs have to meet certain terms and conditions. You can’t submit designs for objects that are prohibited by law, for instance, or that violate copyright, patent and trademark protections.

Ready-made designs for some objects can be accessed at websites such as Thingverse. Size is limited to the dimensions of the build area on the printer, and the job can’t exceed 18 hours.

Once the design and cost estimate have been approved by the RPL and you, the job joins the queue and will be “printed” using extruded corn-based plastic. Several colours are available, and the print cost is 10 cents per gram rounded to the nearest gram. Once the object is printed, you’ll receive an e-mail, and can pick up the object at Central Library.

Railyard Renewal Project Survey

smoke ReginaThe City of Regina has an online survey going on where people can offer input on how they would like to see the redevelopment of the CP rail yard area between the Downtown and Warehouse District proceed (the area is 17.5 acres in size, and is sort of pictured above during warmer/smokier days last June).

The renewal project is tangentially related to the new Mosaic Stadium that’s being built on the Exhibition Grounds and the eventual redevelopment of the current Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium site. In the survey you can identify what you think should be development priorities from pre-selected lists, plus offer your own comments.

You can find out more information about the rail renewal project, plus find a link to the survey here.

Campus Master Plan Public Forum [Update]

[This had been set for Monday but now it’s been moved to Tuesday]

Every five years the University of Regina undertakes a planning process to chart the future of institution. A strategic plan for 2015-20 is already in place. It identified three priorities: Student Success, Research Impact and Commitment to our Communities.

As a companion process, the university has been doing some planning around the future development of the campus which includes the main and College Ave. campuses and lands east of the main campus that are also owned by the university.

You can find out more about this process on the University of Regina website, but Tuesday between 2:30-4:30 p.m. the university is hosting an open house at the multi-purpose room at Riddell Centre where the public will be able to review the plan and ask questions before it is sent on to the university’s board of governors.

Universities are a huge asset to communities, but judging by recent news reports the U of R campus, which includes both historic buildings dating back a century on College Ave, and newer buildings that were constructed in the mid-1960s, is definitely showing its age. So we’ll see what plans the university administration has for moving forward.

Digging Deep At Capital Pointe

20151114_161310When I was out for a walk on the weekend taking advantage of the gorgeous late fall weather I took this shot at the Capitial Pointe construction site on the corner of Albert & Victoria.

I believe the plan is to dig down five stories to accommodate underground parking and other elements of the foundation. The work will probably proceed more quickly once the remnants of the old Plains Hotel are cleared away, but for now it’s pretty tough going.

Urbanity Open Air

UrbanityIf you happen to be downtown Thursday you might want to stop by this event which is being held from 5:30-9 p.m. It’s being co-presented by the Queen City Hub, Regina Advocates for Design (RAD), OPEN, the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, and the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) and will take place in the alley running between 18 block Scarth and Cornwall St. between 11th and 12th Ave.

The event is subtitled “Building Safe & Welcoming Spaces”, and the plan is to have a variety of art installations and presentations addressing ideas of public safety in the downtown and how we can create engaging urban spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Above is a photo of one installation that is being planned. It’s called “Orange Crush” — and no, it’s not intended as an endorsement of the NDP in any way. Instead, it’s a portable, immersive space made out of foam noodles. As part of the proceedings, RDBID will also reveal the results of its Imagine Regina survey.

Oh Ye Of Little Faith

Capital PointeWas it Stephen LaRose’s intention to use reverse psychology with his Sept. 24 Capital Pointeless post to prod the developers into proceeding with the long-delayed project?

If it was, it may have worked, as CBC is reporting that the developer of the combination hotel/condo project on the corner of Victoria Ave. and Albert St. announced today that construction will begin next week.

Of course, after repeated false-starts on the mammoth project, which includes 144 condo units, along with a high end hotel, and was originally supposed to be completed in 2013, most Reginans are in “believe it when I see it” mode when it comes to Capital Pointe.

So I guess we’ll see what next week brings.

Capital Pointeless

I don’t know how any Regina journalist who is on the city hall beat doesn’t include, in every story about our generation’s answer to the Chateau Qu’Appelle, some line such as … ‘A Capital Pointe representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but who is so full of horseshite that the eyeballs are turning brown …’

Face it. If the people responsible for this project couldn’t scratch together the financing when Saskatchewan’s economy was as hot as the exhaust pipe of a Sabrejet on afterburners, there’s no way this project will be built when oil has fallen from $100 per barrel to $45 a barrel (and falling), the Canadian dollar has gone from par with the U.S. dollar to about 75 cents U.S. (and falling) and Saskatchewan’s economy is free-falling into recession.

Planning For The Future

On Wednesday, Sept. 16 the University of Regina is holding a town hall to discuss the future of the College Ave. Campus and Darke Hall. In early July, the university announced that it had contracted the Regina-based architectural firm P3 Architecture Partners along with heritage experts Donald Luxton and Associates to lead the renewal project.

In the last year or so, several different organizations such as the Regina Folk Festival and Curtain Razors theatre company have held events at Darke Hall. That’s after a number of years where the hall was used sparingly because of questions about its structural integrity.

One goal the university has is to restore Darke Hall to its former glory as a performance venue. The College Ave. Campus is home to the Conservatory of Performing Arts too. So work to stabilize and upgrade the College Building would be another boost for Regina’s arts community. The Centre for Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning Centre are located in the building as well, so adult education would a third winner.

According to the U of R it’s halfway to its $10 million fundraising goal to tackle the multi-year restoration project. The forum on Wednesday will be held at Darke Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.

Structures And Artifacts

Don Hall (Structures & Artifacts)Above is a shot from Don Hall’s exhibition Structures and Artifacts that’s on display at Mata Gallery until Aug. 1.

In our July 9 issue we had an interview with the Regina photographer. The western plains, including Saskatchewan, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, is the focal point of the show, but there’s also some images that were taken while on trips to Mexico and Cuba.

Some photographs have people in the them, but the majority concentrate on buildings and objects that offer traces of a human presence in the landscape.

Again, Structures and Artifacts is on at Mata Gallery until Aug. 1. 

A Walk Around The Park

If you plan on being downtown on Wednesday June 24 at noon, you might consider taking in this event which is being co-hosted by Regina Public Library and Regina Downtown. People are asked to gather at the Cenotaph, and there will be an hour-long walking tour that will offer some insights into what the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District and surrounding area was like just prior to the Great Depression kicking in in 1929.

If you can’t make it on June 24, the walk will be held again on July 16 and Aug. 13. Those will be evening excursions, and they’ll run from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Pigeons Left Homeless By Closure Of Downtown Landmark?

Travellers BuildingI went for a walk in the downtown last night. When I was on the west side of 18 block Broad St. around 8:15 p.m. I noticed a fair bit of commotion across the street at the pigeon condo a.k.a. the Travellers Building.

Pigeons were flying around and landing, then taking off and landing again, and making that weird warbly sound that they make. I took a closer look and ended up taking the above snap.

If you compare it to a shot of the building I took in April 2014, it does seem that the windows on the second floor that had been open previously are now closed so the pigeons are no longer able to roost there at night as I believe they were in the habit of doing.

Judging by the confusion I observed in the pigeon community, this is a relatively recent development. But I don’t have any other confirmation of that beyond the pigeons. Both photos can be enlarged by clicking on them to see the pigeons in better detail.

Infill Housing and You

If only all infill housing paid this kind of attention to scale.

If you spend any time taking notice of your surroundings in this city, you’ve probably remarked on all the infill housing that has cropped up in recent years. In theory, infill is a good way to retain density in neighbourhoods by developing housing in areas otherwise occupied by vacant lots. At its best, it’s well designed and affordable. In practice, however (particularly in Regina, it seems), “infill” is too often used as short hand for “ugly and cheap”, and those who call out its objectionable design are frequently (and unfairly) accused of NIMBYism. But why should this be? We’ve built beautiful, well considered, modest housing in the past, and we can do it again, right?

In any case, the City of Regina is holding two public engagement sessions to address the issue of infill housing and how it works within Design Regina’s Official Community Plan.

The first session, an “Infill and Intensification Kick-Off Meeting and Public Workshop” will be held on Monday June 8, (6 – 9pm). The second session, “Introduction to Laneway and Garden Suites Guidelines” will be on Tuesday June 23 (6-9pm). Both sessions will be held at Knox-Metropolitan Church (2340 Victoria Avenue).
Now you know.


Jane’s Walk

If you feel like slipping on your walking shoes this weekend, the seventh annual Jane’s Walk Regina is happening on Saturday May 2 and Sunday May 3. As with the previous six, Regina Urban Ecology is the organizer.

You can find out more about the eight walks that are on the 2015 program on the Jane’s Walk website. The walks include one tied to the history of Wascana Creek/Lake and its impact on the local environment, another looking at Canterbury Park which is an infill development on the old Archdiocese lands on the southeast corner of Broad and College, and a third hosted by a new urban planning group that’s sprung up in town called Urbanity 101 that will discuss urban design and planning principles in Regina’s core neighbourhoods.

Other walks will look at the power of community, the path of the 1912 tornado, spots associated with peace and war in Regina, Regina’s early beginnings, and the new Heritage neighbourhood that is emerging east of Broad between College Ave. and Sask. Drive.  The last walk will be led by Ward 3 councilor Shawn Fraser.

There’s six walks on Saturday, with the first starting at 10 a.m. and the last at 4 p.m. There’s three more walks on Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. with the last one at 1:30 p.m. The walks go rain or shine, so be sure to check the forecast and dress appropriately.

Living Heritage: Growing Our Cultural Heritage

Richard MacKinnonOn Tuesday March 10 the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy is hosting a day-long gathering on the theme of cultural heritage. You can find out more on the event, which is being held at the University of Regina’s Shu-Box Theatre from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on the JSGS website.

Highlights include performances of dance, music and poetry, along a presentation by university students on “museums without walls”. There’s also a keynote address by Cape Breton University professor Richard MacKinnon (pictured) on “Living Heritage Stories from the East, Lessons for the West”, plus panel discussions and presentations on the theme “Why Hasn’t Canada Signed the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage?”.

Again, the event goes March 10 at the University of Regina and you’re asked to pre-register either through the above website or by calling 306-585-5512.