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Midtown Lofts | ?m | 6 fl | U/C
#31
(07-13-2015, 11:23 AM)ac3r Wrote: Not really liking the design. We have one of the most prestigious architectural schools in Canada in our region. What is with all these terrible brick work designs they build here, or the cheap stucco looking stuff they've put up at the Barrel Yards, which also dot the entire city (think the two out by Fairview Park Mall that went up ages ago)? Have any of you visited the architectural school in Cambridge? You can see dozens of amazing neo-modern building designs from students.

Realistically, few developers will engage an architectural school (or a student) for a short-term development project, and will instead work with their existing architectural firms.  While students would be less expensive and might have innovative ideas, staying with an existing architect relationship will make things easier as such a firm will already generally understand the developer's objectives and constraints, and have experience working with structural engineers in order to design to budget and still create a functional building.  (These are kinds of things students learn to some extent in university, but more so when they enter the "real world" after graduation.)

I have nothing against architectural students, and I hope they will make innovative professional architects, but the fact is that business realities typically dictate using an established firm.

Now, using an open architectural competition would be a whole different thing, and there students could likely make a much bigger contribution.
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#32
(07-13-2015, 11:44 AM)ac3r Wrote:
(07-13-2015, 11:27 AM)panamaniac Wrote: I'm confused - Kitchener is all about the brick. 

I understand what you're saying. Kitchener was an industrious city in the past. But so was Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver. There are lots of gorgeous old factories and apartment buildings built centuries ago that are being modernised, but virtually all the new projects going up are still these cheap looking condos. I realise most of the developers are small and don't have reputable architectural firms behind them, nor the money, but why are they shying away from more intriguing designs? Collaborate with the school or something - I mean most of the tech firms here pull talent from local students, why not involve the architecture and design students.

I have a lot of friends who study architecture at UoW and see all these things going up and say, once they graduate, they'll most certainly be working in Toronto instead of here because there are more opportunities to design and build more innovative and contemporary projects, because everything that gets approved in this city looks like this or this. City Centre, the pharmacy building etc were exceptions due to their status symbol, but the rest of these projects are going to age horribly - visually and physically - in 15-20 years.

I strongly agree with you. Most of the new projects that are getting approved have little consideration for the long term. I'm not sure if it's local market pricing that is forcing cheaper construction, but I am concerned for the long term. I hope Kitchener doesn't follow Waterloo with the student housing mess. Many of those buildings built 5 years ago already are looking old. Developers in general need to up their game and the City needs to be stern when giving approvals. 

I think this project could visually be improved greatly just by using some different materials. Hopefully this isn't the final approved rendering.
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#33
(07-13-2015, 03:58 PM)realtyforward Wrote: I strongly agree with you. Most of the new projects that are getting approved have little consideration for the long term.

My concern is that it's right on a prime piece of land - that is, along King Street, very close to the new transit station. These low density residential projects just seem like they would be better suited to surrounding streets, such as Duke West or further east near the Weber East and Lancaster East area.

Save the arterial roads for larger projects that are going to be suitable for the next 15-20 years like what is proposed for King's Crossing. Maybe not as tall or containing as much square footage, but they offer much more space and will most likely have better structural and architectural work put into them. As you say, this seems like it will compare to the hideous structures going up in the university area that are most certainly going to suffer over time. Think brutalist architecture, which may have looked really sleek and modernist in the 1970s ends up looking like a weathered military bunker a decade or so later as the brick and concrete starts to weather and age.
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#34
(07-13-2015, 11:44 AM)ac3r Wrote: I have a lot of friends who study architecture at UoW and see all these things going up and say, once they graduate, they'll most certainly be working in Toronto instead of here because there are more opportunities to design and build more innovative and contemporary projects, because everything that gets approved in this city looks like this or this. City Centre, the pharmacy building etc were exceptions due to their status symbol, but the rest of these projects are going to age horribly - visually and physically - in 15-20 years.

I think your links are somewhat unfair.  First, the cities cannot dictate the architecture of what gets built, just the zoning parameters.  Of course the design might sway some if the developer is asking for variances, but if the building is within the zoning restrictions, the developer can determine what to build.  A large city will always have more opportunities, and more large buildings.  On the other hand, Toronto architectural firms will often be involved in larger projects outside Toronto as well.

But I think there have been a number of interesting-looking projects in Kitchener and Waterloo over the past few years (or coming up), not looking at all like your links:
  • UW School of Pharmacy
  • UW Quantum Nano Centre
  • UW Engineering 7 (not my cup of tea but ...)
  • UW Optometry expansion
  • WLU School of Business
  • City Centre Condos
  • 100 Victoria
  • K2
  • 250 Lester
  • Google Breithaupt Block
  • CIGI
  • Perimeter Institute
  • Quantum Valley Investments
There are others that might qualify, I left off the Albert and Sunview developments, for example, even if they aren't the typical cubes like you posted.  The point is that in spite of King Street between University and Columbia, there is real design being applied even in Kitchener and Waterloo.
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#35
Architecture aside, the real disappointment on King between Uni and Colum is the lack of retail space making it seem like a pass-through zone instead of a welcoming destination like it could/should have been. That's the key to avoid in midtown. There shouldn't be a single building between Sun Life and Kaufman that is approved without some kind of integration into the street life.
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#36
(07-13-2015, 11:42 PM)notmyfriends Wrote: There shouldn't be a single building between Sun Life and Kaufman that is approved without some kind of integration into the street life.

I don't think this can be overstated. I'm not qualified to comment on architecture much beyond "this looks good to me," but when ac3r says that this would be a better fit over on Weber, I agree strongly as that is the type of street that can not (yet) be expected to accommodate mixed-use. For this stretch of King, it is very important to develop the street as a mixed-use corridor, as planned. I would say that focus should be placed on positive interaction with street life everywhere between Victoria and Uptown. Certainly we shouldn't be losing retail even in the short term, as this project evidently would entail.
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#37
(07-14-2015, 07:19 AM)MidTowner Wrote:
(07-13-2015, 11:42 PM)notmyfriends Wrote: There shouldn't be a single building between Sun Life and Kaufman that is approved without some kind of integration into the street life.

I don't think this can be overstated. I'm not qualified to comment on architecture much beyond "this looks good to me," but when ac3r says that this would be a better fit over on Weber, I agree strongly as that is the type of street that can not (yet) be expected to accommodate mixed-use. For this stretch of King, it is very important to develop the street as a mixed-use corridor, as planned. I would say that focus should be placed on positive interaction with street life everywhere between Victoria and Uptown. Certainly we shouldn't be losing retail even in the short term, as this project evidently would entail.

There is a reality to downtown, that absence of sufficient residents (which seems unbelievable) and without greater transit density and use (also hard to believe), not every storefront we currently have can be filled at this time. Does it make sense, then, and is it possible, to have main levels of buildings designed so as to accommodate conversion at a later date with a more robust commercial environment? I don't know the details of how it would be done, but a stipulation was made for 155 Caroline that the street fronting parking be designed so as to permit conversion to retail at a future date, if desired.
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#38
(07-14-2015, 07:28 AM)Viewfromthe42 Wrote:
(07-14-2015, 07:19 AM)MidTowner Wrote: I don't think this can be overstated. I'm not qualified to comment on architecture much beyond "this looks good to me," but when ac3r says that this would be a better fit over on Weber, I agree strongly as that is the type of street that can not (yet) be expected to accommodate mixed-use. For this stretch of King, it is very important to develop the street as a mixed-use corridor, as planned. I would say that focus should be placed on positive interaction with street life everywhere between Victoria and Uptown. Certainly we shouldn't be losing retail even in the short term, as this project evidently would entail.

There is a reality to downtown, that absence of sufficient residents (which seems unbelievable) and without greater transit density and use (also hard to believe), not every storefront we currently have can be filled at this time.

This.  There is not currently a shortage of retail space downtown, so building more (not inexpensive) retail may result in low occupancy rates.

If the city wants to ensure that all residential on King Street has a retail component, then it needs to update the zoning so as to disallow pure residential buildings.  Don't blame the developer for acquiring a largely-neglected property and proposing to build a mid-density residential building on it when it's explicitly permitted by the current zoning.
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#39
(07-14-2015, 08:26 AM)tomh009 Wrote: If the city wants to ensure that all residential on King Street has a retail component, then it needs to update the zoning so as to disallow pure residential buildings.  Don't blame the developer for acquiring a largely-neglected property and proposing to build a mid-density residential building on it when it's explicitly permitted by the current zoning.

I believe that they should do that. They've designated King Street West (among others) as a "mixed-use corridor." That suggests to me that residential buildings without ground-level commercial should be the exception, not the rule. But within the current regime, what the municipal government can (and should) do is disallow zoning variances for developments that are not mixed-use. If a developer wants to be excused from requirements such as lot setbacks, it should be required to add extra value to the area in return.

Edit: Additionally, a lot of these discussions about vacancy and whatnot tend to be anecdotal, you know. With offices, for instance, we've seen conversions to office space from other uses while lots of purpose-built office space sits vacant downtown, and we're told that this is because of changing preferences in the market. The same could be true for retail, and new purpose-built retail might have much different vacancy numbers that tired, older retail space does. We heard from We're Bitter Together, for example, and others, that it's hard to find space downtown. So it's hard to know what to believe sometimes.
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#40
(07-13-2015, 11:42 PM)notmyfriends Wrote: Architecture aside, the real disappointment on King between Uni and Colum is the lack of retail space making it seem like a pass-through zone instead of a welcoming destination like it could/should have been.  That's the key to avoid in midtown.  There shouldn't be a single building between Sun Life and Kaufman that is approved without some kind of integration into the street life.

This!
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#41
(06-03-2015, 11:01 AM)MidTowner Wrote: I just got an e-mail with the subject "VIP Event Invitation Coming Soon!"

So this is the invitation to receive the invitation, then? It says that the event will be in July. Also says "from the low $200s."

I just received another e-mail from Decade Homes about a "VIP Launch Announcement," and a launch event they say will happen September 10 and 12. It will take place at a sales centre in The Shops at Waterloo Town Square.
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#42
I think demo is going to start any day now, I noticed the buildings doors and windows are all boarded up and there is a steel fence around the properties.
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#43
(07-18-2015, 11:34 PM)TMKM94 Wrote: I think demo is going to start any day now, I noticed the buildings doors and windows are all boarded up and there is a steel fence around the properties.

Nice to see this one (potentially) starting right away
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#44
(07-20-2015, 06:31 AM)Spokes Wrote: Nice to see this one (potentially) starting right away

Here's hoping. It will be very sad to see a net loss of retail and commercial space, but nice to see development in this area: it is primed for it.
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#45
(07-21-2015, 07:56 AM)MidTowner Wrote:
(07-20-2015, 06:31 AM)Spokes Wrote: Nice to see this one (potentially) starting right away

Here's hoping. It will be very sad to see a net loss of retail and commercial space, but nice to see development in this area: it is primed for it.

The amount (and quality) of retail space lost is really not so much.  As long as this is the exception rather than the rule, it should be fine, I think.
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