Fenwick Tower (Halifax)

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Fenwick Tower as seen from Spring Garden Road.

Fenwick Tower is a residential apartment building in the south end of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. At 98 metres and 33 storeys in height, it is the tallest building in Atlantic Canada and the tallest residential structure in Canada east of Montreal.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

The building was completed in 1971 and was officially named Fenwick Place, though most Halifax-area residents referred to it as Fenwick Tower. It occupies a property between Fenwick Street and South Street; it takes its name from Fenwick Street which in turn honours Sir William Fenwick Williams, former Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.

At the time the building was being built, the developer boldly touted it as the largest residential project east of Toronto. Once financial problems set in, the goal seemed unreachable and Fenwick Place was sold off to Dalhousie University for $5.25 million CAD as a student residence.[1] During construction, Hurricane Beth filled the elevator shafts with seventeen feet of water. When the first residents began to move in 1971, complaints were made of apartments missing heat, windows, and other furnishings or amenities.[2]

Hurricane Juan[edit]

Collapsed wall in 15th floor apartment following the hurricane

On the night of September 28, 2003, Hurricane Juan hit Halifax, forcing all Fenwick residents to the building's basement overnight. Windows in several apartments shattered and the contents of some these apartments were blown out onto the ground below. Residents were evacuated from approximately one week up to 8 weeks, depending on the damage and repair time to their individual apartments. Unlike most private landlords and other universities in the area, Dalhousie paid for all displaced students and families to be housed in hotels until the green light was given to return.[3]

Sale[edit]

In 2008, the university hired a firm to move towards the sale of the building. Spokespeople downplayed the possibility that the building might be demolished, citing the rarity of a building this tall in Halifax coupled with the difficulty in building a new one. They also suggested a refurbishment would be much more likely, and that a sale would take some time to go through, given the size and complexity of the project.[1]

In 2009 Templeton Properties purchased Fenwick Place from Dalhousie University and has begun the refurbishment of the apartments. After purchasing Fenwick Place in 2009, Templeton Properties officially changed the name to Fenwick Tower[4] to reflect the name that was commonly used.

Description[edit]

Elevators[edit]

There are four elevators in the building. One is an express elevator, permitting access to only the basement, lobby, and uppermost floors. Another features doors on either end of the cabin, and is often used as a service elevator. The two remaining lifts are local elevators servicing all floors. All elevators in the building use the older-style thermally-activated buttons. There is no "up" button on most floors. To go up to another floor, users must catch an elevator on its way down, or walk up flights of stairs. This is to facilitate quicker movement down to the main level.

Floors[edit]

Fenwick Tower consists of 33 storeys, not including an elevator control room at the top, also containing an east-facing webcam run by the Chebucto Community Net. During the Dalhousie period of ownership, the 32nd and 33rd floors were used for international exchange students, as well as hearing and speech clinics associated with the School of Human Communication Disorders, which also occupied the "PR" floor (the first underground floor). The 31st storey, which lacks direct elevator access, contains mechanical rooms. The 30th floor contain storage areas which jut down to the floor below in some places.

There is an unmarked floor between the 15th and 16th floors which contains boilers and the like. There is no direct elevator access to this floor. Like many buildings, there is no official or marked 13th floor. Hence, the only floors whose marked number does not match the actual storey of the building are the 14th and 15th floors. They are actually the 13th and 14th storeys, respectively.

The main floor consists of the reception area, offices, the main foyer, and the entrance to Fenwick Street. Following the conversion of the property to rental apartments, an on-site fitness centre was added to the floor. The basement contains the aforementioned "PR" level, as well as three parking levels; "P1" (nearest to ground), "P2", and "P3".

Criticism[edit]

Since the acquisition by Templeton Properties there have been several complaints filed against the conduct of the rental agency in respect to the Fenwick Towers location.[5] Aside from alleged policy and/or tenancy board violations, Fenwick Towers remains one of the most reported residential complexes in Halifax for pest infestations like bed bugs, mice, cockroaches, etc. [6]

Mythology[edit]

Local lore suggests that the top two floors of the building were designed to contain a swimming pool; however, the pool was never completed. Again, local lore suggests that engineers and architects never took into account the weight of water in the pool, so it was unable to be filled. The top-floor swimming pool is one of the more popular myths about Fenwick Tower. In fact, after taking over the project, Dalhousie decided that the cost of installing repeater pumps throughout the building to pump the water to the top would be prohibitively expensive, and scrapped the idea of the pool before construction reached that phase.

Other myths about Fenwick Tower include:

  • that not all the bedrooms have windows
  • that the top two floors suffered extensive damage in a 1994 fire
  • that the developer committed suicide
  • that the building sways so dramatically in the wind that water in the toilets sloshes (in fact, the building sways 5 inches (13 cm) in 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) wind, 3 inches (7.6 cm) less than the maximum permitted by the building code regulations in Halifax)[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Proctor, Steve (13 June 2008). "For sale: N.S.’s tallest building". Halifax Chronicle-Herald. 
  2. ^ a b "The Buildings of Dalhousie University: An Illustrated History". Dalhousie Archives Digital Collections. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Students will soon return to Fenwick Place" (Press release). Dalhousie University. 3 October 2003. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  4. ^ "Fenwick Tower - Our Vision". Templeton Properties Ltd. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  5. ^ http://www.rentdonkey.ca/building/Fenwick-Tower
  6. ^ http://bedbugregistry.com/location/NS/B3H/Halifax/5599%20Fenwick%20St/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°38′16.64″N 63°34′32.72″W / 44.6379556°N 63.5757556°W / 44.6379556; -63.5757556