Robert Galston

  • Lessons from the Exchange District

    The revamping of The Bay's downtown store is only one of a number of new developments coming to Portage Avenue. Long-vacant properties will be renewed, new buildings will rise, and a new plan put forth by CentreVenture that seems to settle the problem of downtown's sprawling geographic size. It all might sound good, but is not entirely new. Forty years ago, downtown was in the midst of a dramatic transformation. Like CentreVenture's latest vision for Portage Avenue, plans from that time called for skywalks and zoning downtown areas by use. It was also a time of a building boom (led mainly by private dollars) like nothing seen downtown since 1913.
  • Union tower a beacon for downtown

    It's easy to get excited about the plans Red River College has for the Union Bank tower on Main Street. Built in 1904, it is a true example the early skyscrapers, not only by virtue of its height, but by its adaptation of classical orders to a tall building. Reaching 11 storeys from ground through the wonder of steel, it looks down on Main from a sharp bend in what had been, just a generation before, a muddy trail connecting two forts along the Red River.

    When the tower became vacant in 1992, I was 10 years old, and I have grown into young adulthood seeing it as a heartbreakingly prominent reminder of Winnipeg's lost glory. And so, if nothing else, to one day see the lights on in the building at night will have a huge impact on the city's bruised psyche, sending a message that, for now at least, we no longer let prominent architectural treasures sit empty for years.

  • A city with no design standards

    The possibility that Canada Post would locate its downtown sorting facility at the corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street came and went in a matter of days last week, and so it might now seem a little pointless to devote column space to a now-dead development. But in that time, much of the discussion of the matter was of the hope that the design of the facility would not reprise the dismal monstrousness of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's offices a block down the street, at Logan and Main.

    At the beginning of the year, as the form of the WRHA's building, boxy and cheap, and its adjacent parkade, crooked and brutal, took shape, it raised much public ire and left civic politicians asking how such an embarrassment was allowed to take shape only four short blocks from city hall. Good question, but what might be more worthwhile is to ask how it can be assured this never happens again.

  • The failures of Waverley West

    Over the past six years, Winnipeggers have heard much about how Waverley West would be a panacea for civic woes.


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