Remember the old rock and stone block retaining wall along the Bronson Escarpment; the one that holds up the parking lot for the Juliana Apartments?
It was getting to the point that the iron tie-back hooks were no longer working in the south section, beside the small park…
This past spring, the south end of the wall was replaced with a new retaining wall made of stacked concrete blocks, which seem to be the latest “go to” material of choice for the city, RTG, and road crews:
These have a “rough” face, a sort of imitation stone, which may look OK off all by itself , but induces winces when paired with real stone:
But it would seem that the look was not rough enough. Now the contractor is removing the cast rock-look in favour of a ‘mangled-by-a-chisel’ look:
The process appears to involve manually saw cutting a line into the top of the blocks and then cutting many vertical slices into each block face. Then a power chisel is used to break away most of the face of the blocks. It seems to be a very labour-intensive task. I wonder if it would have been any better to spray the surface with gray gunite made from real limestone?
And there is a lot of it left to do:
Notice that effort was made when constructing the initial wall to vary the lines of blocks a bit to add some relief to the uniform rows of blocks, which actually have some manufactured variety in the face textures.
Nearby is an interesting Confederation Line juxtaposition. Here is the real stone wall (by NCC) along the historic aqueduct, a designated heritage site:
There wasn’t enough room back in the 80’s to finish the last few hundred feet of wall on the south east portion of the aqueduct because the City had the LeBreton transitway station right there, on a high fill embankment. But the deal was the City would finish the wall when permanent construction took place. The City, of course, took the cheap way, using white concrete block:
The juxtaposition if especially jarring where the white concrete blocks meet the heritage limestone arch bridge shown at the top edge of the above picture. Ah well…
Photos and text by Richard Eade and Eric Darwin.