More on Safeway

Last Friday was the deadline given by the City for citizens to provide feedback to the proposed expansion and redevelopment of the Safeway on 13th Avenue. For some background you can check out Martin’s post and my post on the project so far.

Today I want to share a few more letters that were sent to the City from engaged residents – both offer great perspective, identify issues that people are concerned about, and offer some solutions on how to improve this project.

First up is this letter from Jeannie Mah and Edward Jones. It is full of perspective on the community and reflection on the modernist design of the building. Full response here, excerpts below:

Simplicity, honesty, elegance and a solid structure, after 50 years – wood and metal and concrete bricks have been used for their physical and material properties to give us an honest and utilitarian beauty — the modernist motto of ‘truth to materials’ is seen here, using very basic materials in combination with simple yet strong structural engineering.  Brilliant! …

…Improvement, renovation, expansion, energy efficient lighting, better windows, all ecological retro-fitting are all welcome ideas.  We are all for sustainability, and if Safeway would be able to tread more lightly on the earth, you would certainly win our respect and admiration.   The Marina Style roof could be insulated. The building is in great shape. The most sustainable approach is to retrofit, saving the landfill of yet another discarded building. …

…When our geographical memory is lost, we lose a bit of who we are, as people and as a city. We are not against change, but change must be sensitive to what has existed before.  Architectural erasure destroys the love and connections, upsetting the collective culture built up over the years.  We do this at our peril, it fosters a disconnection to place, and erodes small bits of ourselves.

The other letter I’ve got on hand is this one from Larissa McWhinney (Director of the Prairie Sky School), and U of R professors Randy Widdis (Geography), Julia Siemer (Geography), and Darlene Juschka (Women’s Studies). They use principles from our own Downtown Plan as a model for how this project could be improved – very thorough. Full response here, excerpts below:

In what follows we draw on the Regina Downtown Neighbourhood Plan (the Plan/RDNP). We have reviewed various aspects of this document and consider it an excellent study and approach to Regina’s (re)vitalization, as do many others. We posit that several of the principles that inform it should apply as much to Cathedral Village as to the Downtown Core given the similarities between the two areas (i.e., heritage structures, walkability, boutique shopping culture, residential buildings, etc.). Furthermore, if the proposed Safeway were being built a mere six blocks east of its current location, the Downtown Plan would directly affect its construction. It seems disingenuous not to extend the reach of at least some aspects of the Downtown Plan to the adjacent Cathedral neighbourhood….

We are particularly concerned about the windows in the Safeway Proposal. From what we understand, the large block of panes in the middle of the facade are “false”. From floor-plan views of the building, it would seem that there will be offices and bathrooms right behind the facade, implying that the windows in that area will neither allow the passerby on the outside to see in, nor the shopper to see out. If our understanding is correct, this will drastically impact the interior-to-exterior relationship between shopper, pedestrian and community. A wonderful feature of the current store is the fact that you can see shoppers meandering from outside, and can experience natural light from inside. We would like to see the historic feature of full-length, real, unblocked windows of the Safeway flagships replicated in any new design. In this regard, note that one of the design standards for new buildings required by the Built-Form Framework in the Downtown Plan is that “the facade is as interactive as possible at ground level, through transparency (windows), multiple entrances, and active uses” (RDNP, p.125). We would ask that this principle be firmly applied to the entire Safeway Proposal.

Larissa also sent me a copy of a photo sheet that some residents prepared to inform others about the project and show different Safeway designs from other cities.

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More on Safeway

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