Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cultural Center part 6.

There was a public information session on the proposed Cultural Center yesterday afternoon. In reality it is not proposed, more like a done deal.

Not a bad crowd, mostly NG, Parks Canada and community government people. Just over a hand full of public.

That did not stop a lively and probing question period. Pity no questions about the validity of the process leading up to the site chosen. Has anyone being following the Rob Ford legal issue in Toronto?

I digress; the session was opened by the minister responsible for Culture. He gave a spiel, more like spin, of the reasons the site was chosen. Things like historically significant, has place in the heart of the Inuit of Nain, used to be a community when Inuit were still living traditional life styles.

I have no doubt that well may be, which raises the questions of; why no community dialogue in the lead up to the site being chosen. Why no community dialogue in the lead up to site preparation work.

Why was it used as a small boat work area and failed several attempts at building small boat wharfs these last decades.

Why have the towns burgers decided to go ahead and plonk a modern concrete, rock gravel, steel, wood, glass structure on an allegedly site of such cultural significance with out any dialogue with the community, or the region of Nunatsiavut for that matter.

Anyway enough of my silly little questions.

There were two people from the architectural firm and two from the engineering firm present. The architectural guy did most of the background talk about vision of the design leading into the changing engineering process and the shrinking size of the building as costs rose, as is the usual with these things.

The number of pylons to be driven into the ground has gone from around 20 to 100. The depth of these pylons will be in the 60 feet range, penetrating the permafrost and into a stable load holding base beneath. At least that is the hope.

The building basement has also been raised a couple of feet to accommodate any possible rise in the sea levels due to global warming. I think I touched on these points in previous posts.

The interior size has shrunk as previously mentioned, there will be offices for Parks Canada and Torngasok Cultural center people. A 90 seat theater, kitchen, areas for craft sales and a public eating area.

The majority area will be for exhibits, I’m not sure if static or changing. This area will be a public space as well with broad open views of the harbor, seating and an indoor fireplace.

Some Torngasok staff questioned why not all of them will be accommodated in the new building. The answer was *just the staff who have contact with public will be accommodated*.  Ouch.

Outside will be a wooded  type space thing around the circumferences of the building leading on to a stepped rock and gravel area sloping down to the water.

An open fireplace and the steps of about two feet high are to encourage community activity such as sitting around and contemplating while looking out at the water. At least this is the vision of the designers.

Community members have a different vision of it. Concerns about safety of children, concerns about kids hanging around the fireplace in the evenings. Not like kids have not been up to no good with previous new buildings, just look at the state of the Okalakatiget Society building, the Husky center, all the broken windows in the school, the two previous government buildings and on and on.

So the concerns are real, but alas the visionaries seem to be paying little credence to these concerns.

Concerns were stressed on the geophysics of the area, the possibility of sea water as well as water from the land encroaching on the site.
These concerns were not made light of but the engineers and architects seem confident that mitigation's like raising the height of the footings and the pylons will suffice.

So from bottom to top we have 100 steel pylons, these are joined together where the floor will start, then steel stanchions raised to the roof height. There will be a heated space under the floor.

Large I type floor joists will tie it all in then flooring (not sure what type), 8 inch wooden studs for the exterior walls with large glass windows on the sea side and treated lumber on the town side.
Looks like a flat roof with a good amount of skylights in areas not having natural light from the windows. Not sure about this concept in winter.

Heating bills will be augmented by some solar panels, mainly to heat water to kitchen and washrooms. Large black heat absorbing fin like panels will be installed, I am not sure where exactly.

I neglected to ask about cooling in summer, and air re distribution, it is going to get bloody hot with those large triple glazed windows.

Outside we have the rock, gravel terraced down to the waters edge.

Seems like the engineers have taken care to adapt as discovery of soil and geophysics work was taking place. Only big question is, why?. There were other locations with less vulnerability to the ever changing environmental conditions. These would have required less ground preparation for less cost to mitigate leading to more dollars for the actual building.

Some asked about local employment. As usual this was not handled well by the powers that be.
The post construction  phase should garner some local jobs in the lower paid area.

But the construction jobs was danced around, the best that anyone could come up with was, *see the contractors when the job starts*. Well we all know how that has worked in the past don’t we.

In closing, the architects promised more community dialogue as work on the design of the exhibits progresses and what should be incorporated outside the structure such as carvings and such.  Not sure who will be the target of the dialogue, sure hop it encompassed more people than any dialogue to date.

Interesting that the power brokers behind all this did not dialogue their intentions of more dialogue with the public.

Update:  Here is an interview CKOK radio did with the NG minister responsible for the culture on the public consultation and the cultural center itself.  Inuktitut first as it should be.


Sabrina said...

Interesting subject, I recall NG doing consultation with some staff on possible directions for buildings (myself included back in the days of the ArcticNet/IPY outreach office trials in 2007/8). That no community meeting occurred between then and now is kinda outrageous no?! Who is going to use the centre the most??

Sabrina said...

Mind you that was back when Catherine Andersen was in charge and I imagine there was a lot to catch up on in the transition....big files to handle.