When I read the Windsor Star article about how CS&P was chosen to design the university campus in the Armories and the Windsor Star buildings I nearly fell over.
The Windsor Star first touted that CS&P had experience in Windsor designing the Windsor Police Headquarters and the Ontario Court building.
That shouldn’t have helped them get the job, that should have seen them banished from our city.
Not a religious guy but I will be saying some prayers tonight that something else is going on.
You see, Years ago I championed for the DWBIA to partner with planning to bring a panel of experts to come to Windsor to fix our downtown. They brought the president, from Washington DC, and Downtown experts in various fields, a border and entertainment expert from Niagara Falls, An expert from Kalamazoo that had won the most improved Downtown in America award after an economic disaster losing their main employer Pfizer and an retail marketing and urban planning expert from Toronto.
I was fortunate enough to accompany these people on a walkabout of Downtown Windsor when we stopped in front of the CS&P headquarters. I can’t remember which expert said what but they all agreed that Windsor stood out from other downtowns across north America for its uniquely UGLY architecture and unattractive buildings. I asked to give me an example and the Windsor Police Headquarters was chosen as one of the worst downtown buildings they had ever seen in North America.
I wish I had been recording so that I could share the lengthy diatribe of how that building represented all that was wrong with Windsor. Everything from the surrounding one way streets, to the lack of integration of the main floor with the street. How that building would damn the surrounding area from ever being developed. How it and the adjacent casino garage were one of the main reasons Windsor’s downtown was unwalkable, This area was forever condemned to desolation and it hurt everything from city hall square to charles clark square to the riverfront. It stopped the rest of downtown from benefitting from the Casino.
All under the excuse and guise of “Well, we just gave them what they asked for”
I’m not even scratching the surface of the problems of the cold and sterile nature of the building’s facade, Just think of comparing it to the warm and inviting facade of the Norwich block we destroyed.
I will spare you any more criticism but I was forever scarred by what I had to hear about my beloved downtown. Today I felt like a war vet getting flashbacks of that day where I felt humiliated as a windsorite in front of those I respected so much. It wasn’t them, they were simply telling me that more people in our city needed to hear what they were saying and educate themselves. I may be getting some of the details of what they said incorrect but you have to trust me, unless CS&P has changed, this company has been a menace to our city. And you can’t say that they didn’t know better at the time. At the time our police headquarters was built, the information was out there.
On a positive note, With what I learned, I went on to successfully petition council to follow their own design guidelines when building the transit terminal which originally designed to look like something that came out of East Germany, a soul less windowless bunker of a building. Thats why the thing went over budget and although it cost taxpayers including myself, I know in my heart I helped save us from another death blow to another area. (Yeah, I’m taking credit as the only speaker asking council to go against admin recommendation and having my request added as an ammendment)
Oh, Please, Oh Please I can only hope that we are not doomed to repeat our history since some important people don’t seem to know what our history with CS&P is.
Oh and as a pretty darn important P.S. CS&P also doesn’t have the tender’s mandatory preservation experience as well and they’re already talking about not being able to preserve parts.
These guys forever murdered a part of the city creating a pedestrian unfriendly barrier between our downtown and our casino/convention center/arena. They are a big part of downtown not being able to leverage that tremendous asset.