Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crumbling Buildings

The thirty-year-old Pompidou Centre in Paris is in need of major repairs. Complained one French politician: "We have in Paris structures left by the Romans two thousand years ago, yet these new buildings are crumbling."

Not just in France. In Montreal recently, a slab of concrete fell 17 storeys from a Marriott Residence Inn killing a woman dining in the restaurant below. Pieces of that city's Olympic white elephant regularly scale off, endangering passers-by.

None of this should be news. The renown architect, Anthony Adamson, years ago warned of our construction practices. Lintels, and other pieces of seemingly well-attached materials, he observed, are held in place by small metal clips. In time, these will rust, and danger will follow. Other architects confirm this opinion.

And in Toronto. In 2007, a piece of the marble cladding came unstuck and fell off the 30-year-old CIBC Building on the corner of Bay and King Streets. The architect did not allow for Toronto's weather conditions. The 45,000 slabs of Carrara marble are to be replaced at a cost of $100 million.

This month, two concrete slabs fell from the office building at 240 Duncan Mills Road.

In St. James Town, the concrete pieces of a railing between two buildings facing 325 Bleecker Street are deteriorating. One has already fallen off. The rusted metal clips are there to be seen. And at the residential building of 325, the concrete canopy over the front entrance is in need of support.

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