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by Daniel Gloade on January 13, 2014

I have found a very interesting article on the internet because it examines, in detail, the aesthetic qualities of buildings near my office.  Market Square and the old Ontario Court of Justice buildings are discussed in some detail.  The article is called “The Struggle for the Centre:  One City’s Adventure with Modernity.  The author is Nathan Storring and it was published on an online magazine called numerocinq.

Mr. Storring is a critic of modern design.  He thinks little of the appearance of Market Square or the Ontario Court of Justice building.  Instead of just dismissing someone’s work, however, Mr. Storring examines the historical context of all of these buildings.  He records what architectural styles were popular at the time of the building’s construction.  He also examines the political and historical agendas at play when key decisions were made.  He even discusses comments in the Record at the time of construction.

Criticism of architecture and urban planning is only interesting to me when examines why people made certain decisions.  I find this analysis useful.  Only if one understands the choices the artists and owners made can one estimate the consequences when similar arguments are used to address current problems.

Another reason why I find the article compelling is that Mr. Storring articulates his criticism clearly and thoughtfully.  He does not simply dismiss someone’s work with a one-liner.  Instead, he has the ability to perceive his surroundings in a manner slightly different than others and notice problems that are just mental “background noise” to most.

I am not saying that I agree with everything in the article.  It is clear, however, that Mr. Storring has made a thoughtful analysis of downtown Kitchener’s architecture and urban planning.  For those interested in the future of the downtown core reading Mr. Storring’s article is time well-spent.

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