Tag Archive | Architecture

The re-birth of Toronto’s waterfront?

Some more details are emerging on Toronto’s waterfront revitalization efforts.  Christopher Hume has a nice write up in the Star today on the proposed “Parkside” development at Sherbourne and Queens Quay, calling the development “the best thing to have been proposed for Toronto’s long-neglected harbour lands in decades.”  If you think that’s a lofty claim, you haven’t seen Toronto’s waterfront.

Having a striking new development is exciting and it’s always great to have architecture that takes risks.  I’m not in love with the cubist look, necessarily, but you never can really get a feel for these things from the renderings.  I do like the attempt to break up the typical glass block in the sky look of Toronto condos.  And if promises are followed up on, I will be happy with the amount of mixed use development involved.  And the promise of 3-bedroom apartments is important in terms of giving families options outside of the typical semi-attached home.

Check out some images from the article below, click to see full size and find the full gallery here.

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Sliding the Past into the Future

Came across this terrific slide show (in more ways than one, waaah wah) posted on the NY Times examining the fall of the Berlin Wall.  First time I’d seen a technique like this presented so elegantly.  Check it out, I guarantee you’ll get hooked on sliding the pictures back and forth. (As an aside, I can’t figure out if photographers were commissioned to recreate the old pictures, or if they are stock photos photo-shopped to match – anyone know?)

Anyway, as cool as this is, the real reason this grabbed my attention was the perspective it offered on both the loss of older buildings in a city, but more importantly the reuse of older buildings.  Some are restored, some are integrated into newer buildings.  Before/after photo comparisons aren’t anything new, but the ability to seamlessly layer the pictures in this way provides a terrific opportunity to examine what happened to the buildings in the photographs.

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Toronto has design lessons to teach?

Don’t you just love when you come up with a timely post that is validated by someone else?

Benjamin Forgey (all the smart people are named Ben) had a nice piece in the Washington Business Journal recounting his recent visit to Toronto and his impressions of the AGO, ROM and OCAD, and what lessons Washington D.C. planners can take.

His take on the AGO is especially nice, and sums up what I tried to express in my previous post by saying the AGO makes me “happy”.  He just does it a bit more elegantly.

Check out the article here, it’s worth a read.

Thanks go to Urban Toronto contributor yyzer for the tip.

Architecture and Anger

Interesting piece from Christopher Hume yesterday examining Alain de Botton’s new book The Architecture of Happiness.  The basic idea is that architecture has the power to influence our emotions positively or negatively (or in Toronto’s case, not at all).  De Botton points to the shift towards modernism in the 20th century, the advent of the automobile, and the decline of female influences in architecture as examples of where missteps occurred.

The result? Architects who engage in “endless ‘professional posturing’ and the absence of beauty as a goal of architecture.”  We are left with architecture that rarely makes our spirits soar, often angers us and typically leaves us unimpressed.  Think of your typical reaction to this scenario: a mid-rise historical skyscraper is slated for demolition; the replacement, a towering glass cube bereft of character, architectural details and, yes, emotion.  I tend to experience equal amounts of despair and resignation when this scene plays out, as it does many times in a city such as Toronto.

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