Sunday 13 May 2012

Winnipeg buildings: a random trend

Let's play a game!

In the picture below are photos of 8 buildings in Winnipeg. The first person to correctly match up  photos with the names of the buildings wins! Wins what? Humm. Good question. Lessee here ... how about a set of glass drink coasters that say "THIRSTY" on them?

Here is the picture:

Here are the buildings, in no particular order:

A) Asper Institute
B) Buhler Welcome Centre
C) Youth For Christ - Centre for Youth Excellence
D) Manitoba Hydro Tower
E) BGBX Condos
F) Winnipeg Birth Centre
G) 363 Broadway
H) North Centennial Recreation and Leisure Facility

I may need to exclude Christian Cassidy from this contest just to be fair to everybody else. In fact I wouldn't have even known about one or two of these buildings were it not for a blog post he did a while back.

In 2003 the Smith Carter designed Asper Institute was built. In addition to a unique shape, the building sported unique multi-coloured panels in a random pattern. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first. It was a little bit retro and futuristic at the same time, and a little bit ugly too, but it was interesting and I'm all for interesting buildings.

In the years that followed another building got built or renovated with multi-coloured panels in a random pattern, then another and another.

There is a definite trend here, and once again I'm not sure what to make of it. What will we think of these buildings in 30 or 50 years? Will we look at these building and say to ourselves "what were they thinking back then?" If we try to tear one down, will people scream "No, you can't do that! That building is an excellent example of early millenium post-modern randomization!" How will they endure, style-wise?

Also, is this just a Winnipeg thing, or is this a wide-spread trend in exterior building design? Maybe some of you who travel more than I could answer that question. When I was in Montreal I stumbled upon this building, the Palais des Congrès de Montréal (as well as a riot, but that's another story):

.. so maybe it's not just us.

Maybe the trend is already waning. The Langside Terrace House by Syverson Monteyne Architecture was supposed to look like this...

... but they ended up building this:

So a final question: after this trend has run its course, what is in store for us next? We had uniform coloured panels in the 50s, mirrored glass in the 60s, exposed aggregate in the 70s, metal and granite in the 80s, nothing was built in Winnipeg in the 90s so I don't know what the trend was then, and now we have these multi-coloured panels. What can we look forward to next?


Christian Cassidy said...

I like the pattern and a splash of colour in a winter-city landscape is nice.

Not sure about those green ones, though - tehy're so loud. Will they look funky in ten years or sad, like someone in a 1980s house decked out in teal-blue and pink !

cherenkov said...

Some of them miss the mark in my mind, but I do like the new Birth Centre.

If nobody wins the prize, I'll give it to you by default since I know you know all of them. :)

Erin said...

The birth centre is nice, but at first I thought it was a church due to the coloured glass.
I agree that some colour is nice, especially in the winter. The designs just run the risk of being dated more quickly - like residential bathroom fixtures in pink or green :-).
My guesses, some more confident than others:
1C, 2H, 3D, 4G, 5E, 6A,7B, 8F

cherenkov said...

Looks like you got them right. You win!!

If you want your coasters, email me at

Patrick said...

This post made me think of a particular canadian election debate.

Winnipeg Girl said...

I absolutely love this trend and I hope it continues. The world in general needs a little more colour, I hate when I see a completely re-done house and it's all shades of beige as not to offend anyone. Beige offends ME - it tells me you couldn't be bothered to think.

Erin said...

Nah, keep 'em. I was just curious if I had them right!

Anonymous said...

The colour adds some life to our dreary shithole.

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