Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bank Street Phase III, Part 2: Lights

[This post is part of a series on Bank Street's new look. See the introduction and part I here]

Last time, I talked about the new, wider sidewalks, and the installation process for those. This part I'll be talking about the new street lamps on Bank.

Phase I of the reconstruction project, from Wellington to Laurier, has these decorative lamps. They have a flat arm, from which is suspended a round lantern. I took this photo a month ago, after the Shopper's Drug Mart moved out of this building (it's now on the ground floor of the Mondrian). What I find remarkable about it is that the noon-hour pedestrian traffic actually resembles the types of busy pedestrian environments you see in architectural renderings:

But I'm focusing more on Phase II and Phase III of Bank Street, from Laurier to Somerset and Somerset to Arlington, respectively. They have a different style of lamp from the Northern section of Bank.

Here's what the street lamps looked like. They only decorative element were the retro Bank Street Promenade roundels. You'll note that the old posts were suspended on pyramidal bases. When the ground freezes and thaws, the sidewalks ride up and down the slanted surface, creating cracks when they settle back down.

The new streetlamp bases can be seen here lying just south of Somerset, awaiting installation. They are elliptical on the cross-section, but the sides are vertical. They have large bolts built in for attaching the street posts, and holes in the side connect to conduits coming through the middle for electrical connections. Some more concrete utility access ports are stacked behind them.

As mentioned in the previous post, Phase II of construction (Laurier to Somerset, mostly done in 2008) had separate installation for the pieces of sidewalk with and without lamppost bases. This allowed for views like this one, where we can see the connections under the sidewalk looking North from Lisgar. The photo was taken in late October 2008, when the Mondrian's podium was still under construction in the background.

South of Somerset, in Phase III, the sidewalks were constructed more continuously. In this shot (from the same day as the photos in front of Hartman's in the previous post), it's clear that the square of sidewalk with the lamppost is being installed at the same time as the other squares on the block.

As you can see above, they were pouring the sidewalk where the lamppost had already been installed on the West side of the street, in front of Hartman's. Across the street at the same time, they were installing the lamppost where the sidewalk had already been poured. This was at the end of this past August, as you can see by the nearly-completed Mondrian.

Here's a lamp in early September near Gilmour, shortly after installation. They had not yet been illuminated. There's something about the style of the lampposts that doesn't fit here, though. It's just too modern for the ornate buildings on this block.

Not that they're ugly. They make a decorative touch on the rest of Bank street, and the series of them creates a nice rhythm when you view them at the right angle. This shot is looking South along the East sidewalk from Gloucester.

Unfortunately, the hydro wires were only buried North of Gladstone, paid for by the Bank Street Business Improvement Association (BIA). South of Gladstone, there's no BIA to pay to bury the hydro wires, and the City didn't want to cover the cost, so wooden poles were kept for overhead hydro wires. As with on Preston Street, a variant of the street lamps were used to keep the rhythm of the lamps while using the wooden poles (having separate lampposts in addition to the hydro poles would have cluttered up the streetscape too much).

But the result is really really tacky. Here's one of them in front of the Metropolitan Bible Church building:

I was also surprised to see many of the old poles with the 50's Diner-style Bank Street Promenade roundels still up after much of the work was done. Particularly this one at Bank and Florence, where the sign was destroyed in the fire that consumed the building on the corner back in 2003. Surely they wouldn't leave that old frame up there?

There's another one here in front of Hackett Shoemakers at Frank Street. This view is from late April, before most of the work reached this part of Bank Street.

Not sure which one is Hackett? Maybe that's because its sign was obscured by this roundel, which is still there after the new lampposts were installed!

Now, a keen eye would note that the sidewalk squares with these old posts were not poured with concrete. That's because the posts were only kept long enough for the buried hydro wires to be installed and activated. When the posts and overhead wires were no longer needed, they were removed in late October/early November, greatly simplifying the streetscape (though one of those big ugly sign advertisement boxes was installed in front of the Watch Clinic). Note also that a Vietnamese place is opening up in the former Don Alfonso's restaurant. Vistek has also moved from this location, down to where the art supply store used to be at Argyle.

The new lamps create a great ambiance for Bank Street. I had to take a few versions of this photo to get the lighting right. But this photo (looking South from Gilmour) was taken at 9:30 pm and it's pretty dead--let's hope that when the street is re-opened Bank Street once again becomes a vibrant place to live, work, and shop all hours of the day.

Tune in in a couple days for Part III: Trees

1 comment:

  1. I like the new lights just fine. I really have trouble understanding why the power lines weren't buried. How much more would it have cost?