In praise of older buildings

Prince Charles and I have something in common. We're both interested in architecture and have no professional qualifications or particular expertise in the field to back up our opinions, but we have very strong opinions. He once described Mississauga's new city hall as resembling a prison and I'm inclined to agree. I'm a huge fan of old buildings being restored and recycled into new retail or residential space. My husband was saddened to learn recently that the old United Church he attended as a boy in St. Thomas, Ontario has…

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It pays to make beautiful silk purses from sow’s ears

Derelict buildings, ruins and architectural salvage are valued in Europe to the extent that fragments of crumbling Roman walls or centuries-old buildings are rarely torn down but incorporated into new and attractive projects. In North America it seemed until recently we could hardly wait to tear down classical Georgian architecture or turn-of-the-century industrial buildings to replace them with characterless glass monoliths designed with minimal imagination and no personality. I was reminded of this recently when we visited The Britannia Mining Museum, a rehabilitated copper mine near Squamish, British Columbia that…

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