A pet peeve I have about condo developers is that they should do more research into the names of their condos and capitalize on the opportunity to use the names as part of the evolution of a sense of place.
Two of the best examples of missed opportunities are the new condos facing onto Memorial Park – Park Pointe and The Park. With a little research, imagination and respect for the area’s history, they could have been called Andrew or Carnegie. Why? Because the historic Memorial Park library (the first library in Alberta) was funded by an $80,000 Andrew Carnegie grant (total cost was $100,000 in 1912). Or perhaps they could have been named after William Reed, Calgary’s first parks superintendent who created park. Or, maybe even Alexander Calhoun Calgary’s first chief librarian could have been the inspiration for naming rights. For that matter, one of the condos could have simply been named The Library.
On a related but different note, from a design perspective, it would have been nice to have had a strong sandstone element in the exteriors of condos near as the ground level to pay respect to the historic sandstone Memorial Park Library building.
Another good example of a missed opportunity is the Montana, the relatively new condo next to the Nellie McClung House on the 700 block of 16th Avenue SW. Might have Neillie or McClung Place/Tower have been better?
Church, Homestead, Carpenters?
Hats off to the developers in Kensington who are doing a better job with names like St. John’s on Tenth St. (after the church that used to be on the site) or Lido (after the Lido Café, that was torn down after over 70 years of calling the block where the new condo will be built home). That being said, I am think there must be a better name for the community’s latest condo, Kensington. I can think of two – The Riley (the entire Hillhurst / Sunnyside/ West Hillhurst /SAIT area was once part of the Riley family ranch) or The Carpenter (given the site was home to the Carpenter’s Union Hall for many years).
Savoy / Riviera ?
I also question the name Savoy for a new condo in West Hillhurst, a community with a rich history. The Savoy name is most commonly associated with a five-star luxury hotel in London. I am not aware of any association with the site or the community. Grand Trunk, the original name for the section of land that it is located on, would have been a much more interesting and appropriate name.
In my opinion, the same could be said for the Riviera now under construction in Parkdale.
I also don’t get the names for Calgary’s three upscale condos - River, Avenue and Concord. These names are simply too generic or have nothing to do with Calgary and they do not add any value to the sense of place of the communities they are located in.
There are a plethora of new condos next to the downtown that could easily have had names that would have fostered a unique sense of place for both locals and visitors.
Taking it a step further, the same criticism could be said about some community names. What’s with the name “West District” in West Springs? Surely, there is a more meaningful name that is linked to the history of the land – West District could be anywhere. I also hate community names like Royal Oak, Tuscany or Maple Ridge. Lovely as they may sound, they have no relevance to Calgary. On the other hand, names like Quarry Park make sense (the site was once a quarry) and Silver Springs (it actually has springs with silver water). Chinook Park makes perfect sense, as does Garrison Woods and Currie Barracks.
I challenge developers to invest a little more time and effort into naming condos and new communities with names that are relevant to Calgary’s history, climate, topography, flora and fauna.
I would suggest engaging one of Calgary’s historians – Harry Sanders or David Finch - to help out with the research.
Richard White, September 24, 2014
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