When Ryerson University announced plans to redevelop Toronto's iconic Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street at Gould for their new Student Learning Centre, a heritage preservation deal was secured with the City to reinstall the store's iconic spinning record signage as part of the development. Ryerson later renegotiated this deal after coming to the conclusion that the signage was a poor fit with its boundary-pushing Snøhetta and Zeidler design, resulting in a plan to reinstate the sign atop an 11-storey building at 277 Victoria Street, in a prominent position overlooking Yonge-Dundas Square.

Sam The Record Man, Toronto, Ryerson, Yonge, DundasThe sign above Yonge-Dundas Square, image via City of Toronto

Sam The Record Man's static signage began installation last month atop 277 Victoria, and the first elements of the spinning disc neons were put in place at the start of December. Acute angled views from below were initially met with a warm reception, though in the days that followed, more distant views from the west would bring the premature praise to a sudden end.

Sam The Record Man, Toronto, Ryerson, Yonge, DundasSam The Record Man signage reinstalled above Yonge-Dundas Square, image by A Great Capture via instagram

It was decided that to deal with wind load, the sign would be backed with slatted louvers to allow air to flow through, in place of the original solid red and black backing used for the original sign. While when viewed from below, the red and black painted slats might give an illusion of solidity, it appears that from most of Yonge-Dundas Square one sees right through the slats to the sky beyond, substantially diminishing the sign's impact, and begging the question as to whether the "restored" sign satisfies the conditions of the agreement with the City which includes "…for the purpose of conserving and maintaining the aesthetic and cultural heritage of the Signs…”  

The alternative to slats for airflow would have been more substantial armature to hold a sign to the top of 277 Victoria which would be buffeted by wind gusts from all sides. This route was not chosen for whatever reason that has not been made public yet.

One piece of the slatted puzzle, Sam The Record Man, image by Rob ShostakOne piece of the slatted puzzle, image courtesy of Rob Shostak via Twitter

The public has quickly sliced into the reinstalled sign via social media and in our Forum. Posts have been overwhelmingly negative, describing the installation as "reminds me of a giant floor fan", "quite embarrassing", “a pointless waste of effort”, "it just looks awful", and on, and on. An official unveiling was originally scheduled to take place on Monday, though possibly in response to the overwhelmingly negative reception, this event has been postponed. The lights have not been seen turned on at night yet.

What's your take? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in on the conversation in our dedicated Forum thread.