13 April 2007

Monstrosity Boom

With Calgary's boom and bust economic cycles, it is quite easy to figure out why it happens. When buildings are going up as fast as resources are available to build them with a guarantee that all available floorspace is to be filled, most developers go with the current design and building trends with nary a thought or a dollar put towards uniqueness or style. That's why Calgary's skyline is so periodic and functional, not known for its variety of styles from different architectural schools, gradual evolution and beauty.

I have often lamented on the lack of imagination put forth by the architects and engineers that think up all these humdinger of towers in Calgary, whether commercial or residential. Especially during the boom years, it seems like all the developers use a design factory that churns out one familiar, unimpressive design after another. Right now, with the building boom going on in Calgary most of what are new that are going up are glass and metal boxy monstrosities that have stupid sweeping metal flares (see Chocolate, Arriva, Vantage Pointe...and so on) on top, supposedly to distract people's gazes from the complete blandness and utilitarianism of the rest of the building. Ooh! Look! They used green glass on that one! How original!

And what's with those metal awnings they're putting on everything? They collect ice that comes crashing down to ped level in the spring. They have to cordon off areas in order that no one gets chunks of ice in the head, yet they keep adding more of them to the new designs! What the hell are they thinking?

What's with the new Calgary Courts Centre? The closer to completion they get, the uglier I think that building is. It is completely unimaginative, and it has so much glass on it, it almost seems that they can never get to a point where they have all the glass panels on without at least one being broken. How energy efficient is that complex going to be anyways? And the Sheldon Chumir Hospital they're building down the street from my house. When completed, to be named the ugliest building in Calgary. Nice glass box you got there...

And what's with all these condo tower developments with the teeny tiny balconies? Do they think no one that lives in the downtown likes to go outside? That's the main reason I won't buy a condo in Calgary, at least until they design something with decent balconies.Lausanne and Montreux. Great names, ugly, herpes-infected penises....

Here is a very thorough list of in progress, approved, and proposed developments going on. Notice the similarities of all the designs.

For all this legacy stuff they're supposed to be working towards, they're sure not putting a lot of thought, energy or money into nice-looking architecture.

Despite all the glass and metal overload, I do see the new Penny Lane development looking a little more non-standard. This will hopefully look as good in reality as in the renderings.

And then, of course is the proposed Bow Tower, Encana's new office building. It is supposed to be the tallest office tower in Canada second only to First Canadian Place in Toronto. It will definitely be an imposition on the Calgary skyline. Here's hoping they put a little effort into the design of this one, too. From the renderings, it looks like a glass and steel clone as well. But this one is round! Whoo!

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