Calgary is a growing city and there are many areas that are undergoing construction. Urban renewal has occurred in many older neighbourhoods, especially downtown where office towers have replaced most smaller structures.
In this post, I document the demolition of the old downtown Herald Building earlier this year.
By October 2012, demolition of the mechanical wing was underway. Some of the granite exterior was salvaged.
A worker surveys the gates surrounding the area. The sidewalks remained open during the demolition but was covered to protect pedestrians from falling debris. Occasionally, this does happen in Calgary.
A machine digs away at the upper floors of the building. Water is being sprayed to keep the dust down. From this view, it’s quite apparent at how much work is required to remove a building since all the concrete and other structural elements must be removed in small pieces.
Compared to the size of the building, the machines being used are quite small.
A worker is elevated in a crain to survey the structural condition at the very top. My guess is that they don’t want any pieces of the building coming down on the ground below.
These workers are the last people that will interact with the Herald Building as they bring it down.
The colourful suits and orange building coverings contrast with this century old building’s gray appearance.
The building does look fragile from the street, but I am sure that careful analysis of the building’s structural integrity ensures that the building will never fall forward. Dust blanketed the area as pieces inside collapsed. The train tracks, which ran next to the construction site, were still operational.
Most business signage stayed behind and was not removed before demolition. From this view, you can clearly see the building’s original brickwork behind the marble cladding.
The Herald Building became history as demolition was completed in March 2013. Its story, unknown to most, began exactly 100 years ago.
Before the building housed the operations of Calgary’s dominant newspaper, it was known as Southam Chambers. It was constructed between 1912 to 1913, as one of the most notable products of the great Calgary economic boom from 1910 to 1913. It was one of the most desirable and best equipped office buildings in the city. It was also one of the most important buildings for a few years, housing federal government offices and the main post office. Note that Southam Chambers should not to be confused with the similarly named Southam Building, which was built in 1912, and demolished in 1972.
The Calgary Herald newspaper operations began in the building in 1930. This building was in fact the ninth to be used by the newspaper. The first “building” was actually a tent on the banks of the Elbow River.
It was re-clad in the 1960’s with marble to provide a sleek appearance and clean lines in an attempt to leave behind Edwardian-era attributes to become ‘modern’ and ‘dynamic’. The compatibly-styled Herald Mechanical Building was added (see above image, right side) to house the newspaper’s printing press plant. 100 years of age often qualifies many buildings for historical status in Canada, by law, or at least in the hearts of many locals, but not this time. I think this building’s fate was sealed decades ago by the dramatic “modern” restyling which ultimately severely dated the look of the building decades later.
The City of Calgary web site has more information about the structural details and heritage significance of Southam Chambers and the Mechanical Building. Brian Brennan used to work in this building and has shared his fond memories on his blog. The Calgary Herald just announced that they plan to actually sell their newer building in Northeast Calgary, as it is too large for their current operations.
Just before demolition was completed, council unanimously approved zoning for Brookfield Office Properties to build a 56 and 42 storey office towers on the site.
I spent many weeks collecting the pictures for this post, and I hope it was interesting for you. Thanks for reading!