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Guelph architecture

City of Guelph

Not much of particular consequence has been built in Guelph in about a century.

Thank goodness for Guelph’s old buildings

There is no accounting for taste. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Chacun à son goût.
In this case I am talking about architecture. Old and new. Fortunately, our old buildings have stood the test of time and remain crown jewels when people think of Guelph. Thank goodness for these old buildings, too, because not much of particular consequence has been built here in about a century.
What buildings constructed in the past 50 years or so stand out, are unique and are keepers for future generations? Can you think of many, any?  Me neither.
For me the crème de la crème  has to be the River Run Centre. What also comes to mind, but in a lesser light, is the edifice that replaced downtown’s Bond building. You know the one. Look towards St. George’s Square on Douglas Street. It’s the building that approximates a prairie grain elevator. It’s okay, but not really a gem.
Then there’s new city hall. It combines the new with the old Winter Fair building wall. As I have commented here many times, thank goodness for that heritage wall, because the rest of city hall is neither fashionable or functional.
Other somewhat notable premises are the OMAFRA building; the new campus buildings on Gordon just north of Stone Road; and perhaps Old Quebec Street, because it tried to stay in keeping with the neighbourhood.
All of which leads to the soon-to-be-erected new buildings going up in Guelph. There are two condo towers going up downtown and a six-storey apartment development on Gordon Street just north of Arkell Road. The condominium towers are plain. Residents are helping build them to the tune of about  $9.5 million. You would think the Tricar Group would finesse something a little more elegant and perhaps more in keeping with our downtown. Nope. Lookalikes are everywhere. Making them worse is they are an assault on the skyline, as they are the only highrises in the core area.
As for the Gordon Street development, in the interests of full disclosure, builder and Waterloo-based HIP Developments vice-president Scott Higgins is the son of the Trib’s group retail sales manager. Anyway, the building was first called Serene and was aimed at retirees. Since there were few takers, it resurfaced as Solstice, an investment property designed to house students. The second rendition was interestingly different. Love it or hate it, it had personality. People talked about it. Then, be it owing to the city or the developer, its makeup was snuffed with a new, dreary colour scheme. It looks like an upside-down Sudanese flag was draped over the top corner – without the dash of green.
Too bad, because love or hate what it should have looked like, it would have allowed for colourful debate. I have already been told I am wrong, but therein lies the question.
Is there really anything of architectural significance in Guelph to talk about – other than our heritage buildings?   cclark@guelphtribune.ca

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