A call-out by the Save the Uptown facebook page to provide comments to City staff on the application to demolish the Uptown marquee/Barron building canopy produced at least 64 comments to the City in a 21 hour period (that's what was copied to CHI) in advance of the comment "deadline". Clearly there is a lot of passion around the Barron Building and Uptown Theatre.
Here is a link to the Uptown facebook page:
CHI's comment is posted below:
May 8, 2012
The City of Calgary
Development Circulation Controller
Development and Building Approvals #8201
P.O. Box 2011 Station M
Calgary AB T2P 2M5
To: Chris McMillan, File Manager.
Regarding DP 2012-1340, Proposal to remove the Barron Building canopy/marquee.
Dear Mr. McMillan,
The Calgary Heritage Initiative Society is Calgary's foremost volunteer-based built-heritage advocacy group, with approximately 120 members in good standing, and several hundred friends on our contact lists and networks. We support conservation, productive use, adaptive re-use and interpretation of buildings and sites of historic and architectural interest in Calgary. We are partners with other groups on many initiatives and projects that make Calgary more vibrant, including the Heritage Roundtable, and the forthcoming Century Homes celebration and Doors Open Calgary.
Our members, and the community we represent, have a significant interest in the retention and preservation of Calgary's historic resources, including the Barron Building.
It is our position that The City of Calgary should refuse the application to remove the canopy that forms the base of the Uptown Theatre marquee. The Barron Building is recognized by The City of Calgary as a heritage resource of citywide significance. Beyond Calgary, the Alberta Association of Architects has declared it "one of the most significant structures in Alberta". The marquee canopy has been central to the building's identity and architecture, and the 8th Avenue streetscape, since the building was first designed and built, and is recognized as a "character defining element". Although the original look of the marquee has been lost, the original marquee platform (the canopy) remains; it is structurally integrated with the concrete frame of the building itself and supports functional signage. The integrity of the canopy makes it an ideal support for new signage or a restored marquee. Rather than being an impediment to the building, it provides a competitive advantage that makes it stand out. Its demolition would undermine the building's distinctiveness and do unnecessary damage to the building, which could result in degradation of the building's existing structure.
The removal of the canopy/marquee would also negatively impact the existing theatre use, while the continuing presence of the canopy/marquee does not inhibit any of the other potential uses for the building. In fact, the continuing presence of the canopy/marquee may provide creative opportunities for other potential building uses. Removal of the canopy would also harm the public realm. It would be contrary to the Centre City plan, which encourages good pedestrian environments, including canopies to shelter pedestrians. The marquee extends over the sidewalk, providing visual interest, unique sign opportunities, and a sheltered space for building visitors and passersby that is desirable from an urban design perspective, but would be virtually impossible to replicate today. The Centre City plan also references this area as an "entertainment district", mentioning the Uptown and Globe theatres. Newer public sidewalks in the area have a film motif. The Barron Building is an original "mixed use" building, with the theatre being integral to that history. The canopy/marquee is emblematic of the building's historic role and supports the identify of this area; in a way it is a "character defining element" for the street as much as the building. The loss of the canopy/marquee would make the streetscape less interesting and less vibrant.
To conclude, approval of this development permit would not be in the public interest, and we ask that you refuse the application.
On a process note, given the importance of the building and the streetscape, you may want to consider referring this matter to the Urban Design Review Panel for their comments, and possibly to Calgary Planning Commission for decision.
President, Calgary Heritage Initiative Society
Ben Barrington, Manager, Centre City Implementation
Darryl Cariou, Senior Heritage Planner
Scott Jolliffe, Chair, Calgary Heritage Authority
Maggie Schofield, Executive Director, Calgary Downtown Association