By Brent Bellamy, Creative Director and Architect
Museums such as Dalnavert allow us to immerse ourselves in ideas that cannot be experienced by reading Wikipedia or watching the Discovery Channel. (photo: JOHN WOODS / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES)
The fantasy renderings are an appropriate reminder of our downtown’s shortcomings and provide an image to strive for in the real world.
The barriers at Portage and Main enhance the perception of lack of safety and isolate that part of the downtown from others in the area.
Greater public input allows us to ensure future prosperity
Winnipeggers have traditionally had an off and on relationship with the architecture of their city. At the beginning of the last century we built with the optimism of a young metropolis destined to become the Paris of the Prairies. We raised the tallest building in the country and the finest marble and terra-cotta banking halls on the continent stood as a symbol of our promise. Winnipeg was animated with finely manicured parks, bustling sidewalks and busy urban plazas. Its citizens held a deeply rooted connection to their built environment. They had big-city solutions for big-city dreams.
In the decades ending that century, we became indifferent to the built quality of our city. Buildings were no longer constructed with the same permanence. The suburbs exploded, our parks fell into disrepair, the city centre was deserted and urban planning became an exercise in traffic management. We even gave our most famous intersection a makeover with all the charm of a freeway exit ramp.
Strategic thinking needed with Winnipeg seeing growth
Winnipeg's population is nearing 800,000 and is growing by more than 10,000 per year. Property values are rising, construction is happening and the economy is prospering. We have an IKEA, a professional hockey team and a half-dozen new towers rising in our skyline.