Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Status of new or continuing risks to heritage sites

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Postby Admin » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:09 am

At the public Calgary Heritage Authority meeting on Friday April 12 it was reported that the HRIA order (Historic Research Impact Assessment) for the Barron building, which was requested by the city on the advice of the CHA, was imminent from the province.

The Alberta Culture website describes an HRIA as:

When, in the opinion of the Minister of Alberta Culture, an activity will or will likely result in the alteration, damage or destruction of an historic resource, the person or company undertaking the activity can be required to:

-conduct an HRIA on lands that may be affected by the activity,
-submit to Alberta Culture a report discussing the results of the HRIA,
-avoid any historic resources endangered by activity, or-
mitigate potential impacts by undertaking comprehensive studies.

HRIAs and mitigative studies are paid for by the person or company undertaking or proposing to undertake the activity. Professional private-sector historians, archaeologists and palaeontologists perform the required work.

Alberta Culture regulates archaeological and palaeontological fieldwork through a permit system. All decision-making in regard to the management of historic resources rests with Alberta Culture.


A description of the proposed changes to the Barron building were posted on the previous page, here: http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... =3688#3688
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CHI requests HRIA for the Barron Building

Postby cjane » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:04 am

As per the motion passed at the CHI AGM on Thursday, April 18 (to send a letter to the Provincial Minister of Culture in support of an HRIA for the Barron Building), the following has been sent:

"Dear Minister Klimchuk,

Last Thursday evening at the Annual General Meeting of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society (CHI), the following motion was passed unanimously:

"That the Calgary Heritage Initiative request that the Minister of Culture order a Heritage Resource Impact Assessment (HRIA) for the Barron Building."

This request is in response to an active development proposal that would significantly alter the Barron Building, which is a highly valued landmark of architectural, historic and cultural importance. An HRIA is necessary to appropriately inform the future of this site. We are also aware that the City of Calgary, as advised by the City Council-appointed Calgary Heritage Authority, has also requested that you order an HRIA.

The CHI is Calgary's premiere membership based heritage advocacy group, dedicated to the preservation, productive use and interpretation of buildings and sites of historic and architectural interest. We have approximately 100 paid members at present, and hundreds more friends and contacts. As the sponsoring partner of the Century Homes Calgary 2012 project, which engaged 500 households, CHI received the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Community History Programming.

Thank you for your consideration, and your support of heritage in Alberta. We look forward to working with you to ensure a positive future for the Barron Building.

Best Regards,
Cynthia Klaassen, President"

CHI members and friends are encouraged to send their own letters of support.
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Re: CHI requests HRIA for the Barron Building

Postby newsposter » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:28 am

cjane wrote:As per the motion passed at the CHI AGM on Thursday, April 18 (to send a letter to the Provincial Minister of Culture in support of an HRIA for the Barron Building), the following has been sent:

"Dear Minister Klimchuk,

Last Thursday evening at the Annual General Meeting of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society (CHI), the following motion was passed unanimously:

"That the Calgary Heritage Initiative request that the Minister of Culture order a Heritage Resource Impact Assessment (HRIA) for the Barron Building."

This request is in response to an active development proposal that would significantly alter the Barron Building, which is a highly valued landmark of architectural, historic and cultural importance. An HRIA is necessary to appropriately inform the future of this site. We are also aware that the City of Calgary, as advised by the City Council-appointed Calgary Heritage Authority, has also requested that you order an HRIA.

The CHI is Calgary's premiere membership based heritage advocacy group, dedicated to the preservation, productive use and interpretation of buildings and sites of historic and architectural interest. We have approximately 100 paid members at present, and hundreds more friends and contacts. As the sponsoring partner of the Century Homes Calgary 2012 project, which engaged 500 households, CHI received the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Community History Programming.

Thank you for your consideration, and your support of heritage in Alberta. We look forward to working with you to ensure a positive future for the Barron Building.

Best Regards,
Cynthia Klaassen, President"

CHI members and friends are encouraged to send their own letters of support.


Response received May 14, 2013. This spring the building owner engaged a heritage archtectural consultant and the HRIA process is ongoing.

Dear Ms. Klaassen:

Thank you for your e-mail of April 22, 2013, in which you raise concerns about the proposed redevelopment of the Barron Building in downtown Calgary. I share your appreciation of the building’s heritage value and concern for its future. As such, on April 19, 2013, my ministry required that the owner undertake an Historic Resources Impact Assessment to study the proposed redevelopment’s impact on the building and to explore the possibilities of incorporating heritage elements into the redevelopment.

I thank you for your interest in preserving Alberta’s heritage.

Best Regards,

Heather Klimchuk
Minister of Culture
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby newsposter » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:51 am

David Parker's column in the Calgary Herald August 28 outlines the proposal from the Barron Building owners for the redevelopment of the building. The article does not mention that this proposal prompted the Province of Alberta to issue a Historic Resource Impact Assessment order in the spring (see above), which puts the redevelopment on hold pending the outcome of that process. Hopefully the HRIA will help to govern what ultimately happens on this site.

Parker: Barron Building to receive a facelift
By David Parker, Calgary Herald

http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/P ... story.html

The art deco/modern design of the Barron Building - better known to many as the Uptown Theatre building - on 8th Avenue S.W. is something many of us treasure and want to see preserved.

The best way to ensure its survival for future generations to admire is to transform it into an economically sustainable building. Fortunately, current owner Strategic Group has a keen interest in its significant contribution to Calgary's history as well as its architectural details and has gone to a great deal of effort to come up with a renovation and addition that would make it marketable in today's office market.

Built in 1951, it was the vision of Jacob Bell Barron who saw an office building outside of what was then the core to help attract newly arriving oil companies to settle in Calgary. Barron was able to immediately lease three floors to Mobil and the U.S. giant eventually took over all of the space for 15 years, renaming it the Mobil Building.

The problem in today's market, according to Strategic's COO, Randy Ferguson, is that its present floor plate of 10,000 square feet is too small.

Calgary architect Manu Chugh was commissioned to create concepts as to how the space could be enlarged.

Strategic president and CEO Riaz Mamdani then went on a search of firms in Chicago and New York that had the experience needed to expand the vacant building in such a way that an addition could complement the existing exterior.

He chose Gensler's New York office, who came and studied the building and designed an addition to offer a 20,000-square-foot floorplate, a new modern core with two-storey lobby atrium, larger more competitive retail and a Plus-15 connector.

Ferguson says the new design includes many green strategies including roof gardens, energy performance optimization and water use reduction with an aim to reach LEED Gold standards.

The Barron Building is quite majestic in appearance thanks to its central tower with carved stone relief columns topped by ornamental metal pilasters and stepped-back upper floors, all of which remain unchanged.

The marquee is no longer appropriate and has been re-designed with architecturally integrated storefronts using two-storey glass and sandstone to match the original.

An exciting 'jewel box' will replace the current restaurant space on the corner of 5th Street, a two level all-glass box inspired by the iconic Apple cube in New York's 59th Avenue General Motors building. It will merge into a new showcase for the Alberta Champions to be set in the 5th Street facade.

A long Plus-15 will then be built to stretch from between the Barron and the recently announced new Manulife Tower over to Watermark Tower.

It is a big project that still faces some hurdles in regard to the use of the long-empty theatre that was added to the rear of the building. Strategic Group is one of the province's largest private owners of commercial real estate with over four million square feet of properties in Calgary and Edmonton. Other major Calgary developments

are the 175,000 square foot mixed-use building at 2020 4th Street S.W. that is ready for tenant improvements, and the 16-storey office, residential and retail complex just to the north in the 1800 block.

Ledcor Group is a name associated with some exciting construction projects in this city such as Cross Iron Mills, The Bow tower and currently under construction The River, a luxury condominium complex on the north banks of the Elbow River in Mission. There have been some significant changes to executive positions in the Calgary office with the recent appointment of Jim Beeton who spent the last six years as project director at The Bow, as the new Calgary branch manager. And Dean Slater has joined Ledcor as director estimating and business development. Slater spent 25 years with CANA Construction, was a vice-president - project management with Calgary Health Region and most recently was with Triovest.

DAVID PARKER APPEARS TUESDAY, THURSDAY AND FRIDAY. READ HIS COLUMNS ONLINE AT CALGARYHERALD.COM/BUSINESS. HE CAN BE REACHED AT 403-830-4622 OR EMAIL INFO@DAVIDPARKER.CA

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Image

Supplemental note from August 30 2013 David Parker column:

Following my article on the new design that will preserve the Barron Building on 8th Avenue S.W., I had a nice call from the daughter-in-law of builder J.B. Barron who hopes current owner Strategic Group is successful in its efforts. She told me the art deco/modern building may be the only structure remaining in the city designed by architect Jack Cawston, although his designs are safe in the architectural archives at the University of Calgary. Her own home that Cawston designed on Elbow Drive, was demolished by new owners to make way for a more modern house.

Choices Abound at Specialty Store
http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/ne ... 96a672e537
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby Fragile » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:51 pm

Today the Province of Alberta released a notice of intention to designate related to the Barron Building on page 4 of The Alberta Gazette as follows:

"Notice of Intent to Designate a Provincial Historic Resource
(Historical Resources Act)

File: Des. 2311

Notice is hereby given that sixty days from the date of service of this Notice and its publication in Alberta Gazette, the Minister of Culture intends to make an Order that the exterior of the site known as the:

Barron Building, situated on land legally described as:

Plan A1
Block 48
Lots 21-28 Inclusive
Excepting Thereout All Mines and Minerals

and municipally located in Calgary, Alberta be designated as a Provincial Historic Resource under section 20 of the Historical Resources Act, RSA 2000 cH-9.

The reasons for the designation are as follows: The Barron Building has heritage significance as an excellent example of early high rise architecture in Alberta and for its incorporation of both Moderne and early International styles. It is also significant for its role in solidifying Calgary as the de facto headquarters of Alberta’s oil industry.

The Barron Building was built from 1949 to 1951 by Calgary lawyer, real estate developer and cinema house magnate Jacob Bell Barron. Originally, Barron intended to expand his network of cinemas by building an entertainment centre with a dance hall, bowling alley, restaurant and a luxurious cinema. However, following the discovery of oil at Leduc in February 1947, Barron foresaw a need for additional and more modern office space in Calgary, resulting in the planned entertainment centre becoming a large office building with a cinema.

Architect Jack Cawston, of the Calgary-based firm Cawston & Stevenson was commissioned to design the building. Cawston’s design for the Barron Building appears to be a fusion of the established Art Deco and Moderne styles and the newer international style. The Moderne style grew from the Art Deco movement and emphasizes strength, order and efficiency, while exuding a sense of restrained luxuriousness and technological prowess. Over the 1920s and 1930s skyscrapers of this style had become iconic symbols of technologically progressive and prosperous cities. Likely seeking to borrow this imagery, Cawston integrated many Art Deco and Moderne elements into his design. These styles are evident throughout the building, particularly through its high degree of symmetry; its tapered appearance, caused by the stepped backed or terraced construction of the upper floors; and the polished black granite cladding at street level. The Art Deco and Moderne styles are most evident in the central tower through its stark, nearly monochromatic appearance; the use of Tyndall limestone on the second and third stories; and its strong vertical orientation, which is communicated by four vertical bands of windows and the tall, narrow, aluminum-clad pilasters. Other details of the central tower, such as the low relief carvings at the base, the curved, stylized aluminum panels at the top and the geometrical highlights adorning the elevator house, clearly solidify its Art Deco and Moderne pedigree.

The east and west wings of the Barron Building are more in line with the International style, which had become popular in the post-war period. This style emphasized economy and function through extreme simplicity and rigid adherence to vertical and horizontal lines. These elements of the style are strongly evident in the Barron Building’s east and west wings, which are characterised by the lack of ornamentation and the horizontal banding of alternating buff-coloured brick and ribbon windows.

The International style reached the height of its popularity in the decades between the
1960s and 1980s and became a symbol of corporate power. The downtown core of many Canadian cities, particularly Calgary and Edmonton, still demonstrate the influence of the style. The Barron Building’s fusion of the older, iconic Art Deco and Moderne styles with the more contemporary International style is an interesting combination and likely communicates the desire of both the developer and architect to promote the economic strength, stability and rising importance of both the Barron Building and the city of Calgary.

Barron’s original desire was to build a new cinema to expand his network of movie houses in Calgary. Although the project was transformed from being an entertainment centre into an office building, a cinema was an integral part of the building. This is demonstrated today by the marquee as a structural extension of the concrete floor plate over the adjacent sidewalk. As Barron had foreseen, office space was desperately needed by the burgeoning oil industry in Alberta. By the early 1950s, the office space within the building was quickly leased by a number of companies related to the oil sector, notably Haliburton, Sun Oil, Mobil, Shell and Trans-Canada Pipelines. The success of the Barron Building in drawing these companies to Calgary inspired the construction of more and larger office buildings, confirming the city’s position as the epicentre of Alberta’s oil sector.

It is therefore considered that the preservation and protection of the resource is in the public interest.

Dated this 11th day of March, A.D. 2014.
David Link, Assistant Deputy Minister
Heritage Division"

For a direct link to the Gazette, click here: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/gazette/2014/pdf/06_Mar31_Part1.pdf
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby cjane » Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:53 am

A recent article in the Calgary Real Estate Board news (creb news) shares the importance of the Barron Building and Uptown Theatre from the perspective of CHI President, Cynthia Klaassen.

http://www.crebnow.com/preserving-the-barron/
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby Admin » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:46 pm

On May 28th a hearing organized by the Alberta Historic Resources Foundation (AHRF) was held to hear stakeholder comments on the provincial Ministry of Culture's notice of intent to preserve the façade of the Barron building. In attendance were representatives of Alberta Culture, the Calgary Heritage Authority, the Calgary Heritage Initiative
Society, and Strategic Group, the owners of the building who are looking to redevelop.

The intent to preserve only covers the facade of the building, it does not look to protect the former Uptown Theatre space, nor the lobby space/grand stairway. Although the historic elements which would be protected only cover perhaps half of the total defining historic elements mentioned on the city's Inventory of Historic Resources list, Strategic was against the designation as they would like to also replace the first two stories of the facade, as well as remove much of the horizontal marquee slab (even with protection the vertical elements of the marquee would not be protected, just the horizontal concrete base of it).

The arguments presented by the heritage advocates primarily revolved around the importance of the building and its elements, as well CHI brought up the importance of the Uptown space and lobby. Although technically out of scope we felt it was important to be on record to advocate for the interior elements.

Strategic Group's arguments were primarily 1) they were preserving most of the historic
elements (that being most of the perhaps half which would remain if legal protection was enacted) 2) legal protection would create undue financial hardship due to significantly reduced lease rates being possible. One noteworthy item at the hearing was City of Calgary General Planning Manager Rollin Stanley, whose letter to the Province
asking for the legal protection kicked off the entire process, sent a note to Strategic indicating he no longer supported the legal protection. As well the City's Heritage Planning department which had been working hard to protect the building up until a few weeks before the hearing, was not at the hearing in any capacity. The AHRF board has
since presented their opinion to the Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk, who now will make a decision to go ahead with the legal protection of the facade. The decision is expected this month.

Calgary Herald article about the meeting

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calga ... story.html

CHI's statement to the board


Hello, my name is Chris Edwards, Vice President of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society. The Society was formed a provincially registered society in 2005 and is a grass roots organization mandated to promote and protect Calgary’s built heritage and spaces.

I am speaking today regarding the Barron Building at 610 8th Avenue SW, for which legal protection has been proposed. This rare example of Calgary Art Moderne is currently on the City of Calgary's Inventory of Historic Resources, having been evaluated and deemed a historic resource of city-wide value. We are aware that the site has been under some threat of redevelopment and therefore the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society fully supports the designation as well as any other steps which might best preserve the unique architecture of this important building. Not only will designation provide protection now, but also in the future preventing continuous battles to modify the building.

The City of Calgary’s evaluation lists some of the reasons why this structure has been deemed worthy of our protection, both in a historic, and I quote from the City of Calgary evaluation:

Following the 1947 Leduc oil strike, the building helped Calgary to become Alberta's oil capital. Calgary had a historic connection to the oil industry when in 1914 it was made the industry's administrative base after the first major strike in Alberta at Turner Valley. The connection was a tenuous one however with the industry representing modest economic importance to the city. Despite this, when the Leduc discovery was made, just 30km south of Edmonton, the oil companies chose to gravitate to Calgary with its established industry infrastructure. With the development of the Barron Building, Edmonton’s geographic advantage further gave way to the first-class office space made available in Calgary. Development of the building sparked a surge in office construction in Calgary, quickly making the city the undisputed centre of the oil patch in the province.

and it is also worth in an architectural sense, again I quote from the City’s evaluation:

The Barron Building is architecturally valuable as an exquisite and rare example the Art Moderne style in the city. Designed by the prominent local architect Jack Cawston, it is a late interpretation of the style. The design is unique for incorporating more-contemporary elements of the period such as International-style ribbon windows and Modern-style flagstone and travertine finishes. A fully glazed rooftop penthouse, once surrounded by a rooftop garden, was occupied by Barron and is reminiscent of fashionable West Coast and Palm Springs design of the era.

Art Moderne-style characteristics of the building include its stepped-back massing, and its smooth exterior finishes, comprising a base of polished black granite with buff-brick and Tyndall limestone above. Ornamentation is limited to judiciously placed carved spandrels, stone detail and an elaborated central bay. The central bay of the building, differentiated for vertical emphasis, exudes a structured classicism with long, stylized pilasters that are topped by aluminum grills and curved panels. The interior of the building retains high-standard finishes such as terrazzo flooring and intact theatre. Defining the elegant theatre lobby are flagstone and travertine finishes and a grand staircase and mezzanine with aluminum balustrades.

The Barron building is an important architectural example of its era, built by an important man to the city, and cemented the role of the most important industry in Calgary.

I should note however that some of the of the architectural and historical verbiage I just read mention the theatre, which was an integral part of the design, and what in fact makes the Barron building so unique.

In fact, in the city’s evaluation, of the 17 “character defining elements” listed, a bit more than half of them refer fully or partially to the theatre. These being:

- Storefront, lobby and theatre entries with coloured terrazzo floors ; flagstone storefront wall divisions / trim,;
- Projecting, structurally integrated (concrete-frame) theatre marquee of angled profile;
- Terrazzo flooring in various colours in the office lobby and foyer (inlaid with `BB' initials), elevator lobbies, storefronts;
- washrooms throughout with black and white porcelain tiled walls and terrazzo flooring;
- brass mailbox and chute in office lobby;
- Theatre lobby features including its open grand staircase and mezzanine and secondary staircases, all with aluminum balustrades; travertine- and flagstone-clad columns and wall detailing; curvaceous ceiling cut-outs and coves with backlighting ;
- coloured terrazzo foyer and concession flooring and wall-base trim ;
- double-decker auditorium with inverted-slope floor and sloped balcony; elaborate, `Hollywood Regency-style' moldings; metal frame and upholstered theatre seats;
- washrooms with elaborately coloured terrazzo flooring and porcelain- and Vitrolite glass-tiled walls, coved ceilings and original fittings;

Again the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society fully supports and is grateful for the proposed designation which can preserve this building for future generations long after we are gone. We do however feel the theatre space is an integral part of the building, and would encourage the Ministry to designate the interior theatre and lobby as well, or as a preliminary step order a feasibility study. Additional text from the evaluation reads:

Barron saw the high demand for office space after the Leduc strike as the perfect opportunity to build Calgary's first major office building in three decades. Further, such a building could accommodate and showcase the type of first-rate theatre that he long desired to build.

Barron's theatre was an integral component of the building’s purpose and design. While Barron practiced law, his great passion was the theatre. Constructing the building allowed Barron to design the first major theatre in the city in three decades which he opened as a sophisticated movie house. It incorporated such notable features as an inversely sloped auditorium floor, elaborate `Hollywood Regency-style' decoration, and lobby fish pond. Since opening, the theatre has been a valued component of the city's entertainment activity and cultural milieu, known to generations of Calgary movie-goers. It serves as the last of downtown's opulent movie houses.

Ideally an operating theatre would be operating in a downtown district increasingly growing in population, as well its loss leaves the city’s branded “Film District” with only a single theatre. That said we are conscious that one cannot legally require a business to operate, and we would support reversible repurposing of the space for alternate uses. Examples of such include the Runnymede Theatre in Toronto which was repurposed as a bookstore and is soon to be home to a Shoppers Drugmart. Another is Calgary’s own Garry Theatre in Inglewood, originally a movie theatre, which was repurposed as a furniture store. Thanks to the repurposing rather than demolition, the building once again became a venue for live entertainment. Another example of course is Flames Central in the Palace Theatre.

We acknowledge that retaining the historic integrity of the building particularly the theatre may not be the most straightforward way to pad one’s bottom line, but we feel an important historic building, integral to the history of the oil patch and Calgary’s culture, with a space within unparalleled in the whole city, could raise the property from simply another building in the owner’s portfolio, to a marquee property, known by all, one that elevates the status of the owners as it did Mr Barron.


Thank you,

Chris Edwards
Vice President
Calgary Heritage Initiative Society
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby Admin » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:49 pm

Minister of Culture reverses plan to protect Barron building

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1813
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby Fragile » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:55 pm

At the opening ceremonies of Historic Calgary week 2014, Mayor Nenshi announced that he is looking forward to the removal of the marquee that once supported the Uptown Theatre sign.

CHI expects that all memory of the Theatre will be removed, including the lobby and theatre itself, in the building's planned renovation.
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby newsposter » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:02 am

It is great to see that the currently vacant Uptown Theatre / Barron Building lobby will be a venue for the 2015 edition of Beakerhead! Kudos to the owners for making this possible. The owners currently plan to demolish the Uptown theatre's interior (preserving much of the Barron Building exterior), but hopefully events like this, which highlight its rare and beautiful moderne architecture and possibilities for adaptive re-use, will lead to a change of heart, and plans.

http://www.beakerhead.com/
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Re: Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby newsposter » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:10 am

Plans for the Barron Building have advanced, and on Monday June 15 City Council will consider a land use application that is designed to protect some of the historic elements of the Barron Building. Notably most of the façade, but not the marquee canopy, and none of the interior.

Here is a link to the Calgary Heritage Initiative letter to Council which outlines our position:
http://www.calgaryheritage.org/document ... or_web.pdf

Here is a link to the June 15 Council agenda; you can see the land use application as agenda item 7.23
http://agendaminutes.calgary.ca/sirepub ... ype=AGENDA
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