Quebec City by Foot and by Bike

Being a tourist offers the luxury of time, assuming you’re not one to over schedule (younger me did such things – I’ve learned my lesson). Without too much of a schedule you’re free to wander, stop, stare at architecture, and take in the new sights and sounds, and hopefully local flavors (beer + gelato, anyone?). My favorite modes of transportation for city exploring are via bike and foot. Bikes cover greater distances so you can see more than when walking. It’s easier to navigate while on a bike than in a car, and you don’t have to worry about parking. You can get out of the tourist-centric areas and see more of the city. And, it’s good exercise (to work off that beer and gelato). Find a bike path or bike lane, and you’re set. Walking, of course, is best in crowded areas and really allows you to stroll hand in hand or hand in camera, whatever your preference.

Quebec City is such a place: bike friendly and pedestrian friendly. There is so much to see that you will need a bike. Just be prepared for some ridiculously steep hills. Seriously, I’d rather run up those hills than bike some. And make sure you have good brakes! The city is filled with bike paths and bike lanes, including a linear park / bike path along the St. Lawrence River (the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain). Don’t worry if you’re not into hills; it’s flat. And when you get hungry, head back into the city for some architectural eye candy and good food.

Here are some of the scenes from the bicycle and pedestrian point of view.

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It’s hard to capture the scale of steepness in a photo. On a different note, check out the terraced landscaping between the sidewalk and the traveled way. Beautiful, and such good design!

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VELO (BIKE) parking on Rue Saint-Jean.

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A very pedestrian oriented neighborhood, though there is easy automobile parking, too. And, restaurant seating instead of parking spaces.

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Heading down to the bike path along the river (Promenade Samuel-De Champlain) for beautiful views. The Quebec Bridge is in the background.

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The promenade.

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The Promenade Samuel-De Champlain is lined with parks, shelters, and other amenities. This is, by far, my favorite: an exhibit of historic and modern street lights. (Transportation nerd forever.) Recognize anything? There’s even a cobra light!

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Through careful navigating, it’s possible to get to the Quebec Bridge by bike path. It’s a tight squeeze on the path though, so be courteous to others.

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You can get off the bike path, lock your bike, and explore the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) by foot and take the Funicular up to Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec). Note the public art swing on the left: fun for all! It’s a very family friendly place to visit.

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Another scene of Basse-Ville.

I highly recommend a visit to Quebec City. Have you been? Do you prefer to a be a cyclist or a pedestrian? What cities are your favorite?

Happy Friday, friends! Happy travels.

 

Cornwall Schoolhouse

Our tour of Vermont one-room schoolhouses continues. Here’s one in Cornwall, VT off Route 30 that I’ve wanted to photograph for years. The Cornwall District No. 3 schoolhouse was constructed in 1830. It operated as a school until the 1950s.

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Cornwall, VT. District No. 3 school. Stereoscopic view, ca. 1890. 

Today the school is a seasonal residence. The entrance has been enclosed and the vertical siding has been replaced with horizontal clapboards, but the details and characteristics remain intact (brackets, arch, steeple, slate roof, bank of windows). The house looks lonely on a spring day, but looks well maintained.

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Looks like a pretty good seasonal residence, doesn’t it? I hope people still use it.

Finding History in NJ on the D&R Canal

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Griggstown, NJ on the D&R Canal. 

As recent photographs indicate, I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago. I’m a native Long Islander (forever a Vermont flatlander) who grew up with jokes about New Jersey. Sorry, NJ, though I know you grew up with Long Island jokes. Fair is fair. My experience with New Jersey was limited to long trips that traversed the New Jersey Turnpike (traffic!) and getting lost on the Garden State Parkway (teenagers + navigation = trouble) and the Jersey Shore (great beaches, not to be confused with the TV show). Imagine my surprise while visiting friends in Princeton and we discovered the gorgeous architecture of Princeton and the unexpected discovery of the D & R Canal State Park.

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The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park is a 77 mile linear park that transformed the former canal towpath into a recreational resource for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and kayaking. The canal opened in the 1830s, constructed (hand dug) by mostly Irish immigrants. Originally the canal connected the Delaware River to the Raritan River, the Philadelphia and New York City markets. The canal opened in 1834 and continued in operation until 1932. The land became a park in 1974. The heyday of the canal existed prior to the railroads. Mules towed canal boats, yachts, and vessels along the towpath, in the middle of or alongside the canal. The canals operated with locks and spillways to account for the elevation changes.

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Today you can see all of these elements on the D&R Canal on foot, on bike, on horse, or even driving from lock house to lock house.

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At the edge of Princeton, NJ in the village of Kingston. 

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View of the lock at Kingston. 

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Lock tender’s house, bridge, and the lock at Kingston. 

Further down the canal you’ll come to Griggstown.

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Historic Village of Griggstown, NJ. 

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The view of the canal from the bridge in Griggstown. 

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Wood deck bridge. 

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Griggstown, NJ. The building appears abandoned from the exterior, though a peak through the windows shows that it’s not. NJ State Parks have an ongoing restoration project. 

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The Long House, formerly a store and post office and grain storage. Currently under restoration for an interpretive center. 

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The bridge tender’s station. 

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The 1834 bridge tender’s house, built for the bridge tender and his family. Historically, the bridge tender had to raise the bridge for the boats and mules to pass along the canal. 

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A perfect, tiny front door on the bridge tender’s house. 

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An abandoned state park property in Griggstown, due to flooding damage. 

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More flood damage. Keep out! 

The canal continues on, and whether you travel by foot or bike or car, I’d recommend a visit!  Read more of the D&R Canal’s history here and plan your trip.  Have you been here? Or other canals? The C&O Canal is on my list, too.

Ryegate Tourist Cabins

Few in number and often serving a new purpose, tourist cabins remain easy to spot alongside highways due to their identifiable building form and site layout. Always on the lookout, I was happy to find a new (to me) tourist cabin grouping off US Route 5 in Ryegate, VT. These cabins appear to serve as storage now.

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Ryegate, VT

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Double and single cabins.

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Matching details on all cabins: siding, windows, doors, awnings.

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Closer view. I imagine they are original on the inside.

Searching on UVM Landscape Change‘s website, I found that this tourist cabin group was part of the Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Home. Tourist homes were popular before tourist cabins, as places for travelers to rent a room (think of a B&B). They gave way to more private dwellings such as tourist cabins (or tourist cottages). Often the tourist homes added cabins as a way to keep the business going, or to provide additional lodging.

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Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Home. Source: UVM Landscape Change Program.

And this image (below) shows the “Belle-vue Tourist Cabins” in Ryegate, VT. Is this the same as the Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Cabins, but across the road? Or is it another location? That requires additional research. There could be more than one set of tourist cabins in one town on the same road in the heyday of tourist cabins.

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Belle-vue Cabins. Source: UVM Landscape Change Program.

Find anything interesting on your travels recently? If you know anything about these cabins, I’d love to hear more. Happy traveling!

Previous Vermont tourist cabins posts:

The Smallest Bank in Vermont

Six years of traveling Vermont for work and for fun, and there are still some towns I haven’t passed through. Vermont 251 Club states that Vermont has 251 towns and cities. Many towns have more than one village, so the 251 is semi-misleading. Orwell, Vermont is one of those that I haven’t visited. The town center sits on Route 73, which connects Route 22A and Route 30, main north/south roads in Vermont. With some time to spare recently, I decided to turn off Route 22A and head into Orwell. I’m glad I did, as I found the most adorable (technical term, of course) bank.

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The First National Bank of Orwell. The 1832 bank on the left, the 1878 vault in the center, and a later frame addition on the right.

 

The Farmer’s Bank of Orwell was established in 1832 in the 2-story transitional Federal-Greek Revival brick house. In 1878 the bank rechartered as the First National Bank of Orwell and added a new vault and teller counters housed in a new addition, the unusual High Victorian Gothic 3-bay building to the right. This little bank does a lot of talking with its brick and slate cornice arcading and its pointed arch window heads.

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The 1878 vault.

 

The bank still operates as the National Bank of Orwell and received media acclaim and attention when the big banks were suffering losses and going under in the 2008 financial crisis. The New York Times reported on the bank (with some great interior photos) as did Seven Days, a local Vermont paper.

Three cheers for the locally operated banks (and visiting new towns). Find any unexpected gems on your travels lately?

Abandoned New York: Frontier Town

Consider it pure luck or good karma for chatting with strangers. Traveling up and down Route 9 in New York State, we were intrigued by the sad end of the roadside motels. This one had a small play area out front, so we stopped. (I have a documented interest in playgrounds.)

The Frontier Town Motel off US Route 9 in North Hudson, New York.

The Frontier Town Motel off US Route 9 in North Hudson, New York. 

Normally when photographing abandoned roadside anything, it’s more comfortable when no one else is around to either a) get in your photo or b) ask what you’re doing. However, an older couple was strolling around the front of the motel. They seemed nice (and not like people who would be annoyed that I was taking photographs), so I put on my good preservationist smile and went over to say hello. And what a good idea to be friendly that day! This couple shared their memories of this area – formerly known as Frontier Town.

Frontier Town was a wild-west theme amusement park of the 1950s era variety. Think trains & robbers, shooting showdowns on the “Main Street”, sheriff badges, horse shows, kid-friendly, small park activities “cowboy and Indian” style. Art Benson opened the park in 1952 and it operated until 1998, except for a few years in the 1980s. Frontier Town’s prime was the 1960s/1970s. Being located next to I-87 certainly helped its prosperity, and it’s location in the Adirondacks where there are few theme parks.

Back to the couple who started talking about Frontier Town. We chatted for a bit and then they said, Want to see it? Follow us. You can still get there on the access road. But it’s easier to follow. 

Follow us. Hmm. I wouldn’t follow any random stranger into the woods, but since they were in their own car and we were in our car, and they seemed like normal people, this was okay. Such is the life of a curious preservationist. Down this access road we went, dodging potholes, and closing the windows because mosquitoes were starting to swarm into the car.

True to their word, they lead us into abandoned Frontier Town.

Road in Frontier Town.

Road in Frontier Town.

Main Street, Frontier Town.

Main Street, Frontier Town. Mostly overgrown. 

A flash storm had just rolled through the area, hence the hazy air and cloudy skies. And as soon as we got out of the car, mosquitoes swarmed. Intensely. Then again, I’m mosquito bait. Always bring me along if you don’t want to be the one attacked by bugs. The couple walked with us on Main Street for a bit. The woman was especially sweet, warning us of unstable floors and dangerous places to step. I wanted to say, We’re preservationists; we do this all of the time – step on the joists! But I restrained myself, lest she think we’re crazy.

Watch out for the hole in the floor!

Watch out for the hole in the floor!

Most of the interiors looked like this.

Most of the interiors looked like this.

While the four of us were walking along the Main Street stores, the couple told us some of their memories and how their kids like to come walk around Frontier Town when they are home visiting. And, apparently it’s a very popular thing to do. Other folks were strolling around, too. People seemed curious, not destructive.

Another view in Frontier Town.

Another view in Frontier Town. Talk about mosquitoes. 

Frontier Town closed in 1998. Eventually the property was seized due to back taxes. Everything was sold off at auction. And over the years, the property has been vandalized, and anything remaining has been stolen. Various groups over the years have attempted to save Frontier Town, without luck. All that remains is a collection of decaying buildings among the overgrown vegetation, with curious and nostalgic visitors. It holds a special place in the hearts and lives of many. As of July 2015, the land was owned by Essex County and the town of North Hudson was trying to buy it.

And such is the fate of the majority of 1950s era amusement parks. Have any near you? Have you been to Frontier Town, or have you heard of it? Please share in the comments!

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Interested in more photos and info? 

[Updated] Abandoned No More: Putney Schoolhouse 

Remember the “Abandoned Vermont: Putney Schoolhouse“?

The Putney Schoolhouse, as seen in 2013. The plywood on the left covers the original bank of windows, a defining characteristic of one room schoolhouses. Click for original post.

Originally posted in 2013 with a follow-up in 2014, readers have commented and kept me (and you) informed about the project. Last month, I was traveling through Putney and thought I’d drive by to check on the schoolhouse’s progress. To my surprise, the project is complete.

Take a look at these photos, and let me know what you think. I’ll let you look before I comment.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

View from the north.

View from the north, Westminster West Road.

View from the south approach.

View from the south, Westminster West Road.

Side addition.

Side addition. The bank of windows is lost.

New fenestration.

New fenestration.

Hooray, right?! An old building rehabilitated. Right? Well, almost. The massing is appropriate and respectful of the original building. Even the small woodshed remains. The setting and feeling remain. BUT, what happened to the bank of windows? That is the most defining, most visible characteristic of a one-room schoolhouse. And now there are only two windows (see two photos above, and compare to the 2013 image).

What do you think? What would you do differently? Or is this a good compromise? Would you say it meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation?

And to my surprise, it’s an AirBnB rental! Check it out. While I’d like the bank of windows, I’ll admit, the inside looks beautiful.

The Forgotten Village: Greenbank’s Hollow

Drive across U.S. Route 2 in eastern Vermont and you’ll pass through a small town named Danville. Turn right in Danville on Brainerd Road, which will turn into Greenbanks Hollow Road, ending at the lost village of Greenbank’s Hollow. It’s a picturesque spot in Vermont: leafy dirt roads, farms on either side, the covered bridge at the crossroads, and the rush of the water at the bottom of the hill.

Entrance to the historic site - check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

Entrance to the historic site – check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

It’s hard to believe now, due to the small size of Danville and the quiet, rural road, but Greenbank’s Hollow was a bustling mill village in its day. The village grew around a woolen mill. Benjamin Greenback bought an existing mill in 1849, converted to a five story woolen mill that employed 45 people in the 1850s – the largest in the area. The company village included a post office, a store, a school, residences, a gristmill, and a sawmill. Sadly, in 1885 a fire destroyed much of the village, including the mill. Slowly the village residents left, businesses closed, and the school closed in 1912. {Summarized from the Danville Historical Society’s brief history page.}

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank's Hollow.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank’s Hollow.

Remains of the mill.

Remains of the mill across the river.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location.

The village is all foundations, and it's a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The village is all foundations, and it’s a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The historic site exists today thanks to the efforts of the Danville Historical Society who preserved the site as a public park. Can’t make it to Greenbank’s Hollow? Check out this virtual e-book tour.

Tourist Cabins: Marshfield, Vermont

Former tourist cabin clusters are easy to spot on the roadside, as they have recognizable massing, size, and settings. Unfortunately, defunct tourist cabins tend to be the norm, and now they sit empty, used for storage, or converted to housing. Often these forgotten groupings have a few cabins left, a few missing, remnants of sign post, or a driveway to the cabins. Others have been relocated, and are harder to spot. But, look closely along U.S. or state highways and you’ll spot them. My most recent find is this grouping off U.S. Route 2 westbound in Marshfield, Vermont.

Spotted while traveling on US Route 2 in Marshfield, VT. This is a common arrangement of tourist cabins.

Spotted while traveling on US Route 2 in Marshfield, VT. This is a common arrangement of tourist cabins.

Adjacent to the cabins is a dirt road and farm complex. Perhaps the same property owner?

Adjacent to the cabins is a dirt road and farm complex. Perhaps the same property owner?

Tourist cabins in a row. The cabin in the foreground is larger, perhaps for the owner or for a larger family unit.

Tourist cabins in a row. The cabin in the foreground is larger, perhaps for the owner or for a larger family unit.

The cabins are quite similar: corner screen, centered front door, novelty siding, gable roof.

The cabins are quite similar: corner screen, centered front door, novelty siding, gable roof, former light to the right of the door. 

Cabins, in the woods now.

Cabins, in the woods now. Note the window on the left side of the cabins, next to the corner screened window. 

A telephone pole in front of the cabins. No evidence remains of a driveway shape or other elements to this tourist cabin collection.

A telephone pole in front of the cabins, perhaps once supplying electricity to the cabins. A relic of farm equipment sits next to it. No evidence remains of a driveway shape or other elements to this tourist cabin collection.

I am unable to find any information about these Marshfield cabins. If you have the name or any information, please comment below or send me an email. I’m so curious. In the meantime, other tourist cabins in Vermont:

Happy travels!

ROM: A Museum Addition with Much To Say

Institutions grow out of their historic buildings as their functions and purposes change and time progresses. They will need new space. Architects design the latest trends, looking to make a mark on the world. Preservationists seek to find common ground and conversation between historic buildings and architects. Yet, architecture – old and new – remains subjective. The Royal Ontario Museum (“ROM”) in Toronto, Canada is a prime case study for this discussion.

Let’s start here:

The Royal Ontario Museum  (

The Royal Ontario Museum (“ROM”) in Toronto, Canada.

What is that?, you might ask. That is the 1912 Royal Ontario Museum building with the 2007 “Crystal” addition designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Intriguing, yes? Take a look at more photos before we talk (and click here for the project photos from Studio Libeskind).

The view across the street.

The view across the street.


The glass facades provides interesting angles and reflections of the adjacent historic buildings.

The glass facades provides interesting angles and reflections of the adjacent buildings.


View down the street towards the entrance to the museum (via the Crystal).

View down the street towards the entrance to the museum (via the Crystal).


My first question: is that addition over the building or through the building?

My first question: is that addition over the building or through the building?


Checking out the connection on the facade.

Checking out the connection on the facade.


The Crystal peeks over the side of the building, too.

The Crystal peeks over the side of the building, too.

Still with me? It’s a crazy building, but you can’t ignore it or turn away, right? Unable to answer the question of how does the addition connect to the original building from the outside, I ventured inside. Here’s what I found:

The atrium, of sorts.

The atrium, of sorts.


I walked around to see the wall junctions. The Crystal addition creates odd shaped spaces.

I walked around to see the wall junctions. The Crystal addition creates odd shaped spaces.


Another connection view.

Another connection view.


In many places, the addition seems to be a facade for the original.

In many places, the addition seems to be a facade for the original.

The entire floor of the new building sloped towards the front door; a little disorienting for those of us accustomed to walking on generally level surfaces. After chatting with one of the employees, I learned that the building was quite controversial and does not have plumbing (it remains in the original building). Interesting. This employee indicated that the addition had a lot of political pressure behind it.

Regardless of public opinion, I want discuss, with you, the addition in terms of historic preservation (or heritage conservation as the Canadians say). Is this style of architecture appropriate for the historic 1912 museum? Is it intriguing? Atrocious? Offensive? Welcoming?

The architect’s portfolio describes the addition as this:

The entire ground level is unified into a seamless space with clarity of circulation and transparency.  The Crystal transforms the ROM’s fortress-like character, turning it into an inspired atmosphere dedicated to the resurgence of the Museum as the dynamic centre of Toronto.

The design succeeds in inviting glimpses up, down, into galleries and even from the street. The large entrance atrium, the Gloria Hyacinth Chen Court, separates the old historic building from the new, providing a nearly complete view of the restored façades of the historic buildings.   The Chen Court also serves as a venue space for all kinds of public events.

Where to start? Well, it’s interesting. It does offer glimpses of the other buildings. One street facade is restored. Still, is this an appropriate treatment of this historic building? Let’s consider what the National Parks Service and Parks Canada would say.

In the United States, we follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation when dealing with historically significant buildings and new additions or alterations, most notably the following two:

  • (#3) Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or elements from other historic properties, will not be undertaken.
  • (#9) New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work will be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.

In Canada, the regulations are not identical, though Parks Canada has The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Similar to the US Standards, Parks Canada offers this about rehabilitation:

  • (#2) Conserve the heritage value and character-defining elements when creating any new additions to an historic place or any related new construction. Make the new work physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the historic place.
  • (#3) Create any new additions or related new construction so that the essential form and integrity of a historic place will not be impaired if the new work is removed in the future.

Basically, both the US & Canada’s guidelines say that new addition should be recognizable as new and simultaneously compatible with the old and the environment. And, should the addition be removed it should not impact the historic building (presumably the historic – the more prominent building – would be the one remaining). Due to these standards and guidelines, additions are often subservient to their predecessors. Setback from the original, additions employ similar architectural features without being renditions. Sometimes they are successful. Sometimes they are boring, because – at least if they’re boring – the additions do not overpower the original. From one streetscape, the Crystal overpowers the original, wouldn’t you say?

If we’re talking personal opinion: I like it for its intriguing angles and new approach to additions (I’m tired of boring additions that look like subdued versions of the old, unless the environment calls for such a thing). Yet, after looking through the architect’s portfolio and searching for other modern buildings, this one is not as unique as I would have expected.

But, on a professional review: the addition does not comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. It is not visually compatible and removal would damage the building. However, is it not visually compatible because we’re not trained to read buildings with striking modern additions? Should we redefine how we look at buildings and additions? After all, there are countless style-less additions that ruin buildings. Maybe this one doesn’t ruin it so much as highlight a restored facade and engage conversation and community.

What do you think? Does it comply with the Standards? If yes, how? If no, should we look at the Standards in a new way? Or do you despise such modern architecture?

I’d love to have a discussion and hear your thoughts, so please comment below if you’d like to join.