Faux-Historicism

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Faux-Historicism

Postby Chris E » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:38 pm

So I've resisted long enough, thought I'd through this hot-button topic out to get people's opinions on the phenomenon known as faux-historicism.

First of all, just off the top of my head I can think of 4 types of what might be called faux-historicism:

1) Replicas - Fort Calgary would be an example of this, as well as several buildings in Heritage Park, and of course, St Mary's School. This is a (as close as possible) replica of a actual building that existed before, and preferably on the actual site that it existed.. sometimes when buildings burn down, they're rebuilt as per the original.. think of this as though the rebuilding was delayed 50 yrs...although I'm thinking of this type as more rebuilding something foolishly knocked down decades ago, rather than a good reason to knock down buildings in order to build replicas...

2) Similar styles and materials - this form would be basically as though an architect from 1912 timetravelled to 2005 and continued with their business of designing edwardian buildings, generally these would be the same quality (facade anyway) as turn of the century buildings, and would be indistinguishable from actual historic buildings, other than the fact the facade would likely look fresher due to it's newness. Examples might be some of the most expensive "arts and crafts" style houses in the city being built, the ATB building on Stephen Avenue, etc. These are of the same quality as #1, but don't replicate actual buildings

3) Similar styles, different materials - Basically imagine someone using exposed steel beams, and modern glass, to create a gothic cathedral.. styles are borrowed, but it's very obviously modern.

4) Stripmall Heritage - Think red stucco and beige stucco to mimic red brick with sandstone trim, false 2nd stories, etc etc.

I'd welcome any comments on these, whether they're a good idea, a horrible idea, or an ok idea in small doses.. or additional 'classifications' that I've missed.
Last edited by Chris E on Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Faux-Historicism!

Postby Chris E » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:24 pm

So since this debate does interest me greatly (I tend to like nice logical rules based on careful analysis, and figuring out those rules can be challenging) So here's my take:


So I've resisted long enough, thought I'd through this hot-button topic out to get people's opinions on the phenomenon known as faux-historicism.

First of all, just off the top of my head I can think of 4 types of what might be called faux-historicism:

1) Replicas - Fort Calgary would be an example of this, as well as several buildings in Heritage Park, and of course, St Mary's School. This is a (as close as possible) replica of a actual building that existed before, and preferably on the actual site that it existed.. sometimes when buildings burn down, they're rebuilt as per the original.. think of this as though the rebuilding was delayed 50 yrs...although I'm thinking of this type as more rebuilding something foolishly knocked down decades ago, rather than a good reason to knock down buildings in order to build replicas...


I don't have a problem with this, but I think it should be used sparingly, and usually for educational purposes, or perhaps due to accidental destruction, due to fire, war, etc, in some east European cities they rebuilt cities after WWII to mimic what was there prior. On the other hand, I think that having a replica plan as part of your demolition plan is rather dumb. This does bring up an interesting question that I'm unsure of the answer.. that being that if something is destroyed in circumstances out of someone's control, be it natural disaster, fire, or war, is it a bad thing to want to rebuild your city/building to be how it was? What if it was old enough that the style is no longer 'current'? What about if the time span between it's destruction and the first ideas of rebuilding are decades? In that respect just recently there was an article in the news where an East German (I think) cathedral was finally rebuilt from being mostly destroyed in WWII. And what if the destruction was not due to disaster, but disastrous lack of foresite of city officials decades ago?

2) Similar styles and materials - this form would be basically as though an architect from 1912 timetravelled to 2005 and continued with their business of designing edwardian buildings, generally these would be the same quality (facade anyway) as turn of the century buildings, and would be indistinguishable from actual historic buildings, other than the fact the facade would likely look fresher due to it's newness. Examples might be some of the most expensive "arts and crafts" style houses in the city being built, the ATB building on Stephen Avenue, etc. These are of the same quality as #1, but don't replicate actual buildings


I also don't have a problem with this, but within reason.. basically the occasional edwardian or arts and crafts building that is of *high quality* adds to the city, what I think is unnecessary is where developers and architects think "ohh people like that style" and suddenly the city is an Edwardian theme park of buildings of varying quality. No architectural style from the past should be banned, but that shouldn't be an excuse to not try to come up with new stuff. Then again, who's to say "craftsman" isn't the nicest style that will ever be thought up? :)

3) Similar styles, different materials - Basically imagine someone using exposed steel beams, and modern glass, to create a gothic cathedral.. styles are borrowed, but it's very obviously modern.


I think this would be very cool actually, if done properly..then again since it's obviously modern, is it even faux-historic?

4) Stripmall Heritage - Think red stucco and beige stucco to mimic red brick with sandstone trim, false 2nd stories, etc etc.


Ok, I really dislike this stuff, although I think there's a common idea that "well it's in the suburbs, who cares".. except 100 yrs from now the downtown core might well have obliterated most of the present turn of the century housing and commercial stock leaving the present burbs as the 'heritage' districts.....and one thing to think about, the single story stores with fake 2nd stories are looked down upon by many people (including myself).. but then again, a lot of people like the charming practice on turn of the century boomtown storefronts that have a fake rectangular '2nd story'.
Chris E
 
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Postby Bob van Wegen » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:43 pm

You should write something on this for FFWD...
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Postby Bob van Wegen » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:55 am

On the subject of historicism, here is a link to the new Mt. Royal Block on 17th Avenue:

http://www.tonko.com/properties/propert ... pertyID=90

And what it replaced:

http://calgarypubliclibrary.com/calgary ... /com65.htm
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Postby Chris E » Sat Jan 14, 2006 2:03 pm

So it appears that the 18,187 sq. ft. suite would be Shoppers, which would be joined by 4 other retail plus a restaurant
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