Rizzetto Building
Charlotte Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia

The Rizzetto Building, situated in the heart of downtown Sydney, Nova Scotia, was designed and constructed as a design-build initiative. The new building replaces a landmark retail structure, which succumbed to a conflagration several years ago.

The architectural language of this edifice attempts to reconcile the issue of appropriate metaphors for new buildings in shrinking economies and declining urban centres. The current appearance of older buildings and empty gravel lots in downtown Sydney presents an unpleasing, deteriorated, and dilapidated persona; which undermines economic and tourism initiatives, lowers the quality of life for residents, and fosters a sense of low morale and disrespect for community values. There is a need to improve current land-use bylaws, and for Architects to provide leadership and direction in adopting and implementing effective and meaningful design and planning guidelines which would encourage downtown revitalization, with community appearance in mind.

This design illustrates various thematic guidelines, which encourage and promote the historical and traditional character of the community. The facade treatments for this project rely heavily on traditional, Maritime motifs, such as shingled hip roofs, clapboard siding, and board trims. These elements serve to inform, educate, and hopefully, foster a sense of unity and collective vision for future changes and developments. The scale and spirit of the building’s architecture evokes images of a past era in the downtown’s history. The design serves to remind us that living in a small city does not mean we have to build obligatory, anonymous, commercial structures.

Ultimately, the proposed goal of this design is to improve the
character of Downtown, and to increase the community's potential to attract both new business and retirees to the region. In our opinion, bylaw guidelines should be implemented that resist the use of industrial and modern commercial materials in commercial renovations; such as metal siding, aluminum storefronts, illuminated signage, etc. In this instance, the deliberate aversion to utilizing masonry, commercial metals, and fenestration, was instrumental in garnering the owner’s approval for this project.