Don’t act like a baby

There’s a lot of reasons to pity the Université du Québec this week, about forty million reasons in fact. They seem to have adopted a practice of building enormous things at high speed, and get offended when their real estate strategy is not hailed as a blessing.

ÉTS was clever to locate in Griffintown, getting large chunks of land close to downtown for a song. While they’ve aggressively been expanding, their dominant architectural approach has been to build gray, hulking buildings that aren’t particularly open to the street or compellingly detailed; the Dow brewery, next door, manages to create more warmth and visual interest in its windowless brick walls than the ÉTS does with any of its shiny new institutional structures.

La Presse (articles here and here, while they last) notes that the ÉTS is extraordinarily offended that the city isn’t throwing demolition permits at them. Let’s run down the list of grievances in the second article:

L’ÉTS voulait relier ses deux pavillons, au sud et au nord de la rue Notre-Dame, par une passerelle, laquelle aurait été située au premier ou au second étage de l’immeuble, sur le modèle de la passerelle existant à l’époque de la Brasserie O’Keefe.

La Ville de Montréal n’aimant pas le projet de passerelle, l’ÉTS a dû se résigner à creuser un tunnel. Les étudiants en sont quittes pour descendre et remonter les étages pour passer d’un pavillon à l’autre.

Think fast — know of any above-ground passageways running over a street in Montreal, built in the last forty years? There are two, that I’m aware of. Drapeau didn’t like them and the city has never permitted them, and everyone who practices architecture in Montreal knows this. ÉTS closed its eyes, wished real hard that it was not so, and was disappointed upon opening them to find that the world had not in fact changed around its desires. And are students incapable of throwing on a jacket and walking out the door to cross the street? What, does everybody spend all day in a heated atrium now? Is this fucking Place Versailles?

L’ÉTS se plaint également de la présence d’un trou au coin des rues Notre-Dame et Peel.

It’s not like the city put it there just to fuck with you. Yes, Montreal has many potholes and it sucks. Calm down.

L’École voulait raser l’unité de brassage de O’Keefe, au coin sud-est Peel et Notre-Dame pour y construire des résidences étudiantes, des salles de cours et des laboratoires.

Le Conseil du patrimoine, organisme consultatif de laVille, recommande, dans un avis daté du 12 novembre 2004, à l’arrondissement du Sud-Ouest, que l’ÉTS propose un programme architectural qui tienne compte des structures en place, en plus d’intégrer l’équipement brassicole qui se trouve à l’intérieur de l’immeuble.

Well this would come as a surprise if the current ÉTS building was not itself built in part of the old Dow brewery. You’re already in converted industrial buildings — built like fucking fortresses, by the way, and not going anywhere — so why not expand into more? The city takes heritage seriously and the borough didn’t let you knock down whatever you wanted; the tragic aspect of this does not leap out at one and plead for redress.

En 2002, L’ÉTS a aménagé une réserve de musée dans l’ancien garage de la brasserie, sur la rue Peel au sud de Notre-Dame.

” Les droits et usages permettaient de faire un musée et un entrepôt. Les fonctionnaires nous ont obligés d’aller en dérogation de zonage, parce que le règlement ne précisait pas l’activité “entrepôt de musée” “, se souvient M. Nelson.

There goes the rule of law again, fucking up everything. Whatever happened to “close enough”?

Le projet de construction du nouveau Pavillon B, au 1010, Notre-Dame Ouest, n’a pas été sans heurts lui non plus.

” On a refait quatre fois le concept pour satisfaire le service d’urbanisme. Il a fallu que j’écrive une lettre à la Ville disant que j’allais recommander au conseil d’administration d’abandonner le projet, pour que, finalement, la Ville avalise le concept. C’est pas compliqué : à Montréal, si tu ne fais rien, tu n’as pas de problèmes. Mais, si tu essaies de faire quelque chose, tout le monde rapidement se met de la partie “, déplore M. Nelson.

When an adult can’t get what he or she wants, an adult thinks of another strategy that meets everyone’s needs, or puts up a fight on a point of common principle. An adult negotiates in good faith and recognizes the interests of others while defending its own, because that is how adults live in the world.

An adult does not, however, go bitch to the papers that it hasn’t consistently received instant approval to abrogate other people’s interests. An adult doesn’t sniffily imply “we could have gone to Laval” (here, page 6, third paragraph from the end). Act like an adult.

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