Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sir John Carling Bldg - demolish vs conversion

The Sir John Carling building is a large gray office slab rising out of the eastern edge of the Experimental Farm between Dows Lake / Prince of Wales Drive and Carling Avenue. Built in 1967, it is certainly a more-attractive building than many government cubicle farms. The distinctive brise soleil screens on the exterior (only on the west and south sides, the picture shows the east side without sun screens) were inspired by the trendy architecture of Brasilia, and promoted by the then minister of agriculture (Hees??), if my ageing memory serves me right.

The Feds plan to demolish the building in 2010. I can understand their claims that it is an inefficient building, even if I disagree with them. Public Works today wants large floorplates to challenge building occupants in finding their way through the maze of gray partitions, and far be it for me to reduce the mental challenges that might keep our civil servants alert. PubWorks also likes higher ceiling levels to pipe mechanical air into the warren.

I suggest they sell it to a condo developer. Seriously. There, I said it. The thin building floorplate is more suited to residential uses.

I don't see why having condos on the farm is any different from having civil servants in a highrise on the farm. In fact, the condo might generate more diversity of activity at all hours of the day and night.

And don't be mislead by the current appearance of the building surrounded by farmland to the west and greenspace to the east, because the greenspace to the east (the Dows Lake side, shown in the picture) is NOT PERMANENT GREENSPACE. It is not parkland, part of the experimental farm, nor part of Dows Lake / Commissioner's Park. It is, in City zoning, identified as MCF 1.5, ie Mixed Use Centre with a floor space index of 1.5. The (aborted) CDP for the area calls, amongst other good things, for higher density development here.

Recall too that the Carling Avenue LRT service promoted by Clive Doucet and others uses a part of this lot to swing the LRT from the Carling median under the (future) buildings down to the current O-Train line towards Bayview Station. As for the land to the west, isn't this one of the sites identified for a potential new Civic Hospital?

Please don't accuse me of wanting to pave over the Farm. The Carling Building is already there, the issue is whether to refurbish it as office space, demolish it, or my suggestion: a residential building. The (potential) land uses to the east and west of the Carling Building are already in the public forum. Can the Carling building be recycled, reused, repurposed? I hope so. Demolition is the recourse of losers.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of a condo. It is a really cool looking building and it is shortsighted to demolish it ...