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Lords of Trafalgar okay $7-million condo facelift MIKE BOONE, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago A 93-per-cent approval rating is difficult to achieve on this side of the Great Wall. But that's the vote Norman Glouberman got to approve repairs at the Trafalgar condominiums. Fixing the walls and roof of the 70-year-old building on Côte des Neiges Rd. above Cedar Ave. is going to take three years and cost an estimated $7 million. Glouberman, who chairs the eight-member Trafalgar board of administrators, got the okay from residents in 53 of the building's 57 units. Four dissidents are suing to contest the project, but the overwhelming majority has carried the day and work began in May. "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators.View Larger Image View Larger Image "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators. There's scaffolding up the Côte des Neiges side of the three-tower complex. Pallets of bricks and mortar are stacked amid luxury sedans in the courtyard. After leaving the keys to my unluxurious car with the Trafalgar doorman yesterday, I rode the vintage elevator, with its sliding brass grate door, up to Glouberman's fourth-floor condo. He and his wife have a seven-room, 2,200-square-foot unit, and Glouberman's share of the repair bill will be $170,000. Even at this elevated socio-economic stratum, that's not chump change. And no one turned handsprings - probably ill-advised at their age, anyway; two of the condo owners are 90-somethings - when residents were told the Trafalgar needed a facelift. "Unlike apartments, in a condo arrangement everyone has a say," Glouberman said. "Normally, people don't say anything. But when there's money involved ..." The Trafalgar was built - by the grandfather of Montreal restoration architect Julia Gersovitz - as apartment units in 1933 for $1 million. That was serious money in the Dirty Thirties. "The sad part," Glouberman said, "is I've been told that during the 1970s, which was really tough times for real estate, the building was sold for $1 million." That was then. The Trafalgar is evaluated at $55 million. A 3,300-square-foot condo recently sold for $1.4 million. Glouberman has lived there nine years. There's been minimal turnover - about 20 per cent in that time. Who would move? It's a honey of a location on the slope of Mount Royal, with dazzling views of downtown. Glouberman, who's an architect, walks to his Ste. Catherine St. office. Even great buildings start to crumble. The Trafalgar underwent masonry repairs in 1995, but a three-year renovation project was stopped after one year because residents didn't want to spend money on repairs that were not deemed necessary. That was a mistake. "We knew there were minor problems with the masonry," Glouberman said, "but not major problems." Three years ago, the condo board commissioned a thorough study of what ought to be done. The leaky roof could be repaired for $1.5 million and the garage could be fixed for $750,000. "But $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," Glouberman said. "The first information session did not go well." No one - not even a rich downtown condo owner - likes a $150,000 repair bill. But almost every property owner realizes home repair is a good investment - especially in a high-class building like the Trafalgar. Not that it's perfect. The elevator remembers only the floor number pressed by the first passenger to board. Rosemary's Baby vibe notwithstanding, that's the charm of the Trafalgar: a 93-year-old resident drives her car, and the elevator has Alzheimer's. [email protected]
The tallest of them all (in 1888) Little Giant It had electric lights, an elevator and mail chute where you could drop letters from any floor. More impressive, the New York Life Insurance Building at 511 Place d'Armes was Montreal's first skyscraper - at eight storeys high MARIAN SCOTT, The Gazette Published: 6 hours ago From the top floor of Montreal's first skyscraper, you can see ... Well, not much, to tell the truth. Crane your neck from the eighth floor of 511 Place d'Armes and you can make out the statue of Montreal founder Paul Chomedey sieur de Maisonneuve in the square, and the roof of the Vieux Séminaire, adjoining Notre Dame Basilica. But back in 1888, oh my! Eight storeys high was a dizzying height, indeed. The New York Life Insurance Building boasted the latest in modern conveniences. Electric lights! An elevator! And a mail chute where you could drop letters from any floor! Impressed? Perhaps not, but back in the gaslight era, these were state-of-the-art innovations. The New York Life had its own generator to provide power to the offices. Imagine a city where the only tall structures were church spires. Just the twin towers of Notre Dame soared higher than the clock tower that sits atop the New York Life. Rising to 40 metres, its facade of red sandstone - imported all the way from Dumfriesshire, Scotland - made a splash against the grey limestone buildings of Old Montreal. The arched doorway and upper windows evoke the Italian Renaissance. "Look, even the smallest detail is decorated," says Madeleine Forget, admiring the carved entrance, with its intricate wrought-iron grille. Forget is an architectural historian who wrote a history of the city's early high-rises (Les Gratte-ciel de Montréal, Éditions du Méridien, 1990). Sculptor Henri Beaumont created the intricate carvings of urns, garlands and masks in the doorway. When the New York Life was built, from 1887 to 1889, architects were just starting to figure out the secrets of high-rise construction. The first ingredient was the elevator. In 1852, Elisha Graves Otis invented the safety brake for elevators. He installed the world's first passenger lift in a New York department store in 1857. The second ingredient was steel. Traditionally, the walls of a building supported the structure. The taller the building, the thicker the walls needed to be. The walls of Chicago's 17-storey Monadnock Building, completed in 1893, are two metres thick at ground level. Steel-frame construction allowed buildings to reach for the sky. A steel skeleton supported the structure, with the exterior walls hanging from it, like curtains. Chicago's 11-storey Home Insurance Building, constructed in 1885, was the first to use this construction method. Montreal would have to wait until 1895 for its first steel-frame building, the Canada Life Assurance on St. Jacques St. Designed by New York architects Babb, Cook & Willard, the New York Life has supporting masonry walls and steel floors. "The New York Life Building," wrote a visitor, "is one of the most imposing in the City." Its construction ushered in Montreal's "office era," noted the late Gazette history columnist Edgar Andrew Collard. The lantern in the entrance is original, as are the beige marble walls and mosaic floor. The hall boasts a coffered ceiling and staircase with an elegant, filigreed banister. Inside, the building is surprisingly modest in scale. Grand lobbies with hordes of scurrying office workers would come later in the history of office buildings, Forget says. "It looks bigger (from the outside) than it is," says Guylaine Villeneuve, director of operations for the building. The New York Life Co. had its Canadian head office on the fourth floor and a library on the eighth. The other floors were rented out. The Quebec Bank, whose name is carved over the entrance, occupied the ground floor. It bought the building in 1909 and was absorbed into the Royal Bank in 1917. For 12 years, only three eight-storey buildings - the New York Life, Canada Life and Telegraph Chambers Buildings - would rise above the skyline. After 1900, 11-storey buildings began to dot the cityscape. In the 1920s, office buildings with towers set back from the street appeared. One is the art-deco Aldred Building next door to the New York Life. Last year, owner Bechara Helal built two penthouse apartments on the roof, one of which he occupies, Villeneuve says. Tourists sometimes stop to read the brass plaque identifying the building as Montreal's first skyscraper, but few come in, she says. Today, the New York Life barely rates a glance among the soaring structures cluttering the skyline. But what it lacks in stature, it gains in well-bred elegance. Dwarfed by modern high-rises, the building preserves a memory of the era when eight storeys was a dazzling height. [email protected] http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=199c1c3e-af3b-4bcf-a949-9b8f88c5c671
LOL. How stupid can these people be? The building grew from 20 to 47 stories tall but they forgot to design the extra space for more elevators up to the 47th floor! http://gizmodo.com/the-builders-of-this-spanish-skyscraper-forgot-the-elev-1065152844 The Builders of This Spanish Skyscraper Forgot the Elevator The Intempo skyscraper in Benidorm, Spain—standing proud in this image—was designed to be a striking symbol of hope and prosperity, to signal to the rest of the world that the city was escaping the financial crisis. Sadly, the builders forgot to include a working elevator. In fairness, the entire construction process has been plagued with problems, reports Ecnonomia. Initially funded by a bank called Caixa Galicia, the finances were recently taken over by Sareb – Spain’s so-called "bad bank" – when the mortgage was massively written down. In part, that was a function of the greed surrounding the project. Initially designed to be a mere 20 storeys tall, the developers got over-excited and pushed the height way up: now it boasts 47 storeys, and will include 269 homes. But that push for more accommodation came at a cost. The original design obviously included specifications for an elevator big enough for a 20-storey building. In the process of scaling things up, however, nobody thought to redesign the elevator system—and, naturally, a 47-storey building requires more space for its lifts and motor equipment. Sadly, that space doesn't exist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the architects working on the project have resigned, and it remains unclear exactly how the developers will solve the problem. Can we recommend the stairs? [Kinja—Thanks Igor Neumann!]