Provocative Planning Paradox Pertaining To Political Process

Fantasy, foibles, or lack of forethought comes to mind when media reports episodes regarding the disposition of Windsor Public Library’s main branch. By making provision for the homeless in the sale of the Windsor Public Library building, the 11th Hour approaches.

In reconciling relief to the homeless population, the Windsor Public Library itself is on the verge of becoming homeless. Should one commit where uncertainties abound?

WPL is theoretically homeless with a temporary location yet to be determined and approved. But, there will be an announcement this coming June 19. At this point, the resolution must be, “Don’t commit in seizing opportunity until your ducks are all in a row toward expectation of a positive, predictable outcome.”

Foresight attributable to process are distinctions between a plan or adventure. In going back to square one, the saying flying by the seat of your pants appears relevant. Will it prevail?

Forethought to business practices dictate planning ahead with consideration of contingencies. Banks don’t lend money on “what if” we’ll see submissions. Neither should the tax payer.

It might be suggested that Windsor’s City Council, via WPL, is committed to the sale of the WPL main building without appropriate public input. An audited financial, functionally responsive program, interim replacement accommodations, site acquisition, execution, commissioning rationale, etc, appear to be lacking as to the manner in which to proceed.

Sound principles equating the architecture of building, to need and development, is a multidimensional, creative thought and execution process. Good architecture comes from establishing a vision in relation to the attainable.

The successful, mindful aesthetic and functional achievement process, commensurate with site development within a prescribed audited budget, is desirable

The mundane and uninspired configuration of the main entrance to the lobby of the new city hall, north-west corner of the building at the west flank, warrants comment.

This portal within reach of the enclosing traffic round-about appears to have foretold co-habitation with the existing building. Ceremonial access to the new building would not be impeded, but complemented by the architectural foil provided by the abandoned building.

I recently walked the tributary lane along the colonnade that progresses westerly from 400 City Hall Square. There was a sense of protected security flanked by two adjacent impressive building complexes. What came to mind was the symbolic gestation from the lunch bucket town connotation to an evolving mini-border, economically diversified megalopolis in process of development.

It was a good feeling that was interrupted by provocative reminder of the impending catastrophic demolition of Sheppard and Masson’s creation. I worked in their Equity Chambers office in 1955 when the design rationale for the new building was discussed.

Are there other options?

What of the Paul Martin building for interim, if not permanent, library occupancy? Symbolic of a pretentious government architectural norm, with its interior lobby Great Arcade, spectacular ceiling, and brass fittings, it presents opportunities at first look. What an impressive reception centre which could surpass the splendour of the Detroit Public Library, on Woodward across from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Computer work stations, related IT information digital accouterments, however, might present themselves as misplaced within such environmental surrounds

Another option.

Accommodation for the Windsor Art Gallery growth requirements and sculpture gallery lend credence to an expanded location. Art works at the current gallery, running horizontal along the walls, are positioned three rows high attaining the height of a basketball hoop. In hindsight, one might surmise that Mr Chimchuk’s bequest was misplaced, and displaced art gallery wall space.

The opportunities that present themselves today are worthy of review.

The Windsor Arena; that’s absurd. Not an option. But, consider the Windsor Armoury and application of an ingenious vision to tier the space to create a multilevel facility. Resolution was more responsive to need when considering comparison with the London armoury which was integrated into a hotel complex.

I’m a Windsor booster. I respect heritage preservation which made us what we are and what we hope and will be. Full and open disclosure are prerequisites to building trust.

Sensationalism coincident with surprises only serves the political purposes of those that withhold information, prior to putting them to a board, followed by a press release. It’s an abhorrent process to be challenged and defeated, as in the public interest of the people of Windsor.

As in the case of the hospital process, necessity for a revisit presents a challenge since the growth prognosis for Windsor-Essex needs reassessment. We are in the process of loading the gun to shoot ourselves in the foot.

About the Author

William Kachmaryk, Sr
William Kachmaryk, is an architect and member of the Ontario Association of Architects. He has extensive work experience in both Canada and the United States and was the original architect of the Pelissier Street parking garage in Windsor.