Monday, 12 January 2009

Fortress WRHA

I blogged a lot about this development back in the pre-construction days so I've not gone on about it lately. Nice, though, that the media has been writing about it - how often do we have even a bit of public debate about urban design in Winnipeg ?!

There is a good column by Dan Lett in the FreeP. He says, in part:

"It appears that the city continues to be, for many developers, a cheap, desperate date.... to allow the developer to abandon those very few esthetic qualities that might have made it less offensive is proof City Hall has surrendered any interest in what our city looks like".

I'd go one step beyond that and say it's a sign of disrespect to the city. Sadly, some people have the attitude that "it's only Main Street" which is unfortunate as Main Street happens to be one of our major thoroughfares.

Rex Theatre, Winnipeg  (1912 - 2008)
ca 1913

Rex Theatre, Winnipeg  (1912 - 2008)
ca 2007 with false wall covering original facade

ca winter 2009

What was pulled was a classic bait and switch scheme. Do a pretty drawing, superimpose hip looking people strolling around, talk about street presence, make some offering toward landscaping and people get dreamy eyed. When the time comes to build, cut corners and build what you want. It happened with Trizec and on a number of large projects since.


What especially peeves me is that this project was brokered by an agency of the city government to be built for an agency of the provincial government and even got a $550,000 subsidy from city hall. The usual "we ddin't know" shouldn't apply yet all of the partners in Fortress WRHA are pointing fingers at each other for who to blame.

I note that the architect is asking people to chill until the final hoarding is added to the front - I can only hope that it's not a wall of chain link or barbed wire. After all, it is only Main Street.

Update: pics of the original 1913 facade behind the false wall can be seen here prior to the demolition.


Mr. Nobody said...

Looks kinda the sameas the pic.

But for sure, that rex theatre frontage should have been saved. Did they not know what was behind the stucco?

mrchristian said...

I believe they did know. Someone got into the crawl space between the wall and the old facade and took pics of it. I sent the pics to a number of people asking, at the least, could they try to pry the false wall off first to allow for pics of the old facade. Didn't happen.

mrchristian said...

Here are the pics prior to the demo from between the false wall and the facade.


Mr. Nobody said...

Agree, I think they did know but just didn't give a crap. Probably didn't want to spend the money to save it.

Heritage Winnipeg should hang their heads low on that fiasco. Complete breakdown at that department.

Mr. Nobody said...

yes, I've seen those. I was in that building.I managed to get an armchair

That coat of arms should have been saved. But I think it was plaster. if it was wood, oy vey, someone should be canned.

But , the front of the building, should have been dismantled brick by brick .

Anonymous said...


That senile fumduck Vic Grant over at CJOBituary LOVES the new WRHA building!!