1. Examineradio #55
This week we’re pleased to welcome
Halifax Dartmouth city councillor Gloria McCluskey. McCluskey announced last month that after decades in public service, she would not be seeking re-election in District 5, leaving Dartmouthians to wonder who will be in their corner.
Also this week, former mayor Peter Kelly was announced as the new Chief Administrative Officer for Charlottetown. With Prince Edward Island’s rapidly aging population, Kelly should be able to augment his $112-134k salary with some estate-planning work.
2. Police building
The Halifax Regional Police Department this morning issued a tender seeking the lease of a 20,000–25,000 square-foot building to house its investigative and evidence divisions. The building is to be located within the following areas:
• Bayers Lake Business Park;
• Burnside Industrial Park;
• City of Lakes Business Park;
• Dartmouth Crossing; or
• Within 15 minutes driving time (off peak) or approx. 12km from 1975 Gottingen Street, Halifax
That means that in all probability another workplace of nearly 100 employees is leaving the downtown area. The building must have 80 parking spaces and include a gender-neutral washroom.
The 10-year lease is to start March 1, 2017.
“A team of people from the beekeeping and wild blueberry industries will be travelling to Ontario this spring to inspect bee hives in hopes of preventing the spread of a beetle that interferes with honey crops,” reports Elizabeth McMillan for the CBC:
Earlier this year, the province turned down a request from the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association to close the border to ban imported bees due to the small hive beetle, which burrows in hives and can ferment honey if it isn’t immediately harvested.
“Now we’re just working and doing everything we can to ensure they don’t enter the province,” said Lauren Park, the association’s president.
“It’s a really tough thing to say I’m 100 per cent confident. The beetles seem to, anywhere they are in the world, they seem to kind of spread regardless of what people are doing.”
The Department of Agriculture says it is only permitting hives to be imported to Cumberland County to help pollinate wild blueberry crops.
I guess any risk is acceptable so long as John Bragg can sell a few more blueberries.
What’s that sign at the border for anyway?
4. Pedestrian struck
At 9:04 p.m. on April 2, Halifax Regional Police responded to the McDonald’s Restaurant located at 144 Main Street in Dartmouth for a vehicle/pedestrian collision. A truck driven by a 23-year-old man was leaving the drive thru when it struck a 52-year-old woman leaving the restaurant. She was taken to the QE2 with non-life threatening leg injuries. The file is still under investigation.
1. Trudeau mania
Justin Trudeau’s visit to the Halifax Farmers Market Saturday, writes Stephen Archibald:
made me remember when Justin’s father and mother visited Fortress Louisbourg in August 1971. I had a summer job there as an archaeologist and the whole site was shut down for Pierre and Margaret. Project photographers were really responsible for recording the event but some of us were issued cameras and instructed to stand around the edges and perhaps capture some local colour.
I saved a proof sheet of photos from the event (surprise, surprise).
2. Doyle Block
Dal prof Steve Parcell sends the following email:
Since Wednesday morning I’ve been away in Montreal on business, so I missed the “Build It Lower” press conference in front of the Library, as well as Westwood’s Doyle Block open house. I gather that Danny Chedrawe (Westwood Construction) has been using the local media to defend Westwood’s Doyle Block development by disputing the accuracy of my drawings of the view from the Library. The following notes are a collective response for the media, the developer, his architects, and others who are interested. I hope they set the record straight and help clear the air.
1. Support for the view from the Library
It’s great that so many people in different positions have stated publicly that it’s important to preserve the Library’s view of Citadel Hill. They include:
— the Library’s lead architect from Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Morten Schmidt (link to Dezeen article)
— the Library (link to YouTube video; link to Library fact sheet)
— the Doyle Block developer, Danny Chedrawe (link to CBC article; link to Metro News article)
— a Dalhousie architecture professor, Steve Parcell
— a citizens’ group, Build It Lower (link to Facebook page)
If the Library building could talk, it would agree. With its cantilevered upper volume projecting north toward Citadel Hill, its urban intentions couldn’t be clearer.
As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t yet been a public statement from several other interested parties, including:
— HRM Planning and Development
— HRM Design Review Committee
— HRM Council
2. How much view to preserve?
We haven’t yet defined what “preserving the view” means. How much of it should be preserved? Here are illustrations of four possible options:
View option a: keep Citadel Hill’s grassy embankments and the related military buildings in Royal Artillery Park
View option b: keep just the Citadel Hill embankments
View option c: keep just the stone ramparts at the top of Citadel Hill
View option d: keep just the west side of the hill above Queen Street
3. Impact of Doyle Block on the view of Citadel Hill
The four view options (a, b, c, d) imply different heights for the western part of Doyle Block (where the old Bank of Montreal building is being demolished). Based on the widespread support for preserving the view, it’s in everyone’s interest — including Westwood’s — to ensure that the building design matches the chosen view option, and to know now what the result will be later. This requires solid evidence, not just opinion and rhetoric.
A week ago I prepared (and circulated by e-mail) a photo of the Library’s current view of Citadel Hill, plus a montage with the Doyle Block development added. These images included a colour-coded analysis of the photo’s perspective elements (picture plane, height line, receding lines, vanishing point, horizon, etc.). They also included numerical height dimensions from the Queen’s Court construction drawings and Westwood’s presentation drawings. Westwood’s modified roof design was imported from their recent slideshow. (I didn’t bother setting back the ground floor facade to show the wider sidewalk, as only the upper floors affect the view of Citadel Hill.) These graphic items were accompanied by a written description of the perspective method.
After constructing this montage, I found that Westwood’s current design would result in the smallest of the four views of Citadel Hill: view option d (keep just the west side of the hill above Queen Street). This should raise some public eyebrows. It should also raise some questions about Westwood’s statement that “there will continue to be a tremendous view of Citadel Hill.”
My montage was prepared in good faith for reference by everyone. With this evidence in place, we should be able to move on to other questions: how much of the view to preserve and how high the building should be in the west part of the site. Unfortunately, Westwood interpreted this montage as an attack and responded by verbally disputing its accuracy, without showing any solid graphic evidence that contradicts it.
4. Westwood’s montage
When Build It Lower, a local citizens’ group, raised public awareness that the view from the Library is at risk, Westwood attempted to refute the graphic material I provided by making their own montage (page 15 in Westwood’s slideshow). Unfortunately, it was not constructed properly. When I analyzed its perspective geometry by adding colour-coded overlays, I found that the author of Westwood’s montage knows very little about perspective. The background layer and the building layer are not coordinated in their position or their geometry. That’s a fatal flaw. Therefore, Westwood’s montage is not a reliable reference for answering serious questions about the impact of Doyle Block on the Library’s view of Citadel Hill. It’s also not a reliable basis for criticizing the perspective montage I produced.
For those who can follow the details in the words and drawings below, here are some notes on Westwood’s pair of images:
a) Description of Westwood’s “before” photo [above]
— This panoramic photo seems to be a series of photos, stitched together. It results in a continuously curved fish-eye perspective.
— The horizontal building edges parallel to Spring Garden Road (in red on the overlay) converge on vanishing points beyond the left and right edges of the photo.
— The horizontal building edges on the east side of Queen’s Court (in yellow on the overlay) converge on a vanishing point farther up Queen Street. This point establishes the photo’s horizon line (in blue on the overlay).
b) Critique of Westwood’s “after” montage [above]
— Doyle Block’s Spring Garden Road facade is drawn in elevation, not perspective. Its orthographic geometry is not compatible with the curved fish-eye perspective of the base photo.
— The horizontal building edges in the facade (highlighted in green) should converge toward the right vanishing point, rather than remaining parallel. The red lines and green lines should not intersect.
— The facade should be foreshortened where it recedes to the right, as it would be seen from an oblique angle, not frontally.
— The 160-degree cone of vision in the whole montage is far wider than the standard 60-degree cone of vision, so Doyle Block seems like it’s a quarter-mile away (rather than across the street) and Citadel Hill seems like it’s miles away (and therefore insignificant). For a more realistic cone of vision, zoom in to 500%.
— The perspective on the west side of Doyle Block is incorrect. The building’s horizontal edges (in magenta on the overlay) are parallel to those on the east side of Queen’s Court (in yellow), so all of those receding lines should converge at the same vanishing point on Queen Street. Instead, the magenta Doyle Block lines converge at a different point farther left, at a higher level. The horizon of the Doyle Block layer should match the horizon of the base photo, but it doesn’t. The yellow lines and magenta lines should not intersect.
— Because the base photo does not extend down to the ground level at Spring Garden and Queen, there was no solid reference point for locating the southwest corner of Doyle Block. Placing the building too far right has led to other errors: too much of the west side of Doyle Block is visible; its west facade is set back too far from Queen Street; Queen Street opens up into a delta where it meets Spring Garden Road; and the view of Citadel Hill appears wider than it would be.
I trust that this illustrated critique of Westwood’s montage is enough to set the record straight, so that public awareness of the view from the Library is no longer misled by false information.
5. Moving forward
Ideally, HRM should have protected the Library’s view of Citadel Hill several years ago, when the Library was being designed and constructed. This would have enabled the necessary steps to proceed in a sensible order:
1) Recognize the importance of the view.
2) Decide how much view to preserve, then legislate an appropriate view plane and a new height limit for the west part of the block.
3) Develop Doyle Block accordingly.
4) Compensate the developer for any lost profit due to a retroactive change in the height limit.
Unfortunately, the first three steps are now being debated at the same time. To make matters worse, false information and heated rhetoric in the media are obscuring the main issues.
Because HRM’s initial oversight led to this public collision, the Planning and Development staff and/or the Design Review Committee might want to step in now to resolve the situation.
With the Centre Plan discussions now under way, HRM also might want to move forward with the production of a digital model of the city that includes topography and building volumes, so that proposed buildings can be inserted and then viewed from all directions by everyone. Then no one would have to struggle with perspective geometry and montages.
Assuming that Westwood admits that its recent media statements were based on false information, a public apology to everyone also might be in order.
Yes, this has been a long message but I don’t apologize for its length. Some issues need to be considered in depth rather than in brief interviews or quick sound bites. Some issues also need to be shown and seen, not just talked about.
After teaching at the architecture school for 29 years, it’s interesting to be giving a public lesson on perspective, as well as contributing to editorials that raise a red flag when a public collision is about to occur. I hope that Dalhousie’s School of Architecture — as well as individuals and citizens’ groups throughout HRM — can continue to offer knowledge and critical insight to those who occupy privileged positions for producing buildings and neighbourhoods in Halifax.
3. Cranky letter of the day
Cape Breton Post sports columnist Sean O’Neill should be ashamed of the negativity displayed in his article (‘Eagles two losses away from ruining what should be breakthrough season’, April 1) and so should the editors for allowing it to go to print.
We are now, prior to Friday night’s game, in a best-of-three situation with our Eagles holding home ice advantage which includes huge fan support. Why not a story that says “just two wins away from advancing?”
These boys are putting everything they have into these games and this type of negativity is very deflating to say the least.
I’m glad the players are away so they didn’t wake up to this article in their face as they ate breakfast and tried to mentally prepare for last night’s game. I’m very disappointed.
Jean Marie Sherlock, Sydney
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Mathematics (3pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Lucas Mol will defend his thesis, “On Connectedness and Graph Polynomials.”
The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.
The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
The release came yesterday, so no one much has had much time to get into the story. I can’t wait to read all the reporting on the documents— I very much suspect that much of the money was stashed in the very same Cayman Island banks that the Nova Scotian government has been courting with payroll rebate deals.