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Casa Loma Revitalization

I think they should get concord to build something here, a nice big green glass condo, that or build a sorta C N Tower part 2, but instead clad in stone! or they could put a watch tower clad in flat screen televisions, showing England's castles!

Then the city could market Toronto by showing how the beautiful country of England is the old york, and we are the neo twenty first century york.


This should be Toronto's next super tall!



Higher higher! With more turrets.







:p

A supertall condo tower equipped with turrets and clad in flat screen TVs! :D
 
Though it does seem oddly akin to the water tower that was originally planned for the nearby St Clair Reservoir in the 1930s...
 
Is this a joke?

That rendering doesn't respect the history of CL at all. It looks like a cheap, modern 1980s design that resembles that robotic character from Star Wars. I think the building needs to be of a square like design and definitely not beige clad. Why wouldn't they use a darker gray to blend with CL?
 
Look at what date it was posted -- April 1st.

I admit that at first I was taken in, and was about to write a post expressing my horror, dismay and rising anger about this hugely inappropriate project, until I realized that it was April Fool's Day.
 
Time to talk I suppose: I asked Wylie Poon (wyliepoon) to do my dirty work for me. Much of Wylie's excellent work has been shown on UrbanToronto over the years, and for early-stage renderings of our proposed monstrosity I knew that Wylie's skill would be up to the challenge. We needed something that would ride that line of credulity/incredulity just long enough to make people second guess themselves: 'Would Kiwanis actually dare propose this?' 'Maybe?!'. Not that we thought many, or anybody necessarily, would still be convinced at the end, but as long as we got some buy-in for some of the article, then we would accomplish our goal. In the end, we hope that everyone had a laugh.

Cheers!

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Thans for the laugh! It does give one pause, however, at just how underutilized and undervalued a heritage asset Casa loma is.
 
The April Fool's joke...lame
The topic...not lame.

Keeping Casa Loma in limbo forever is just not going to work. Sadly, the real joke is on the city, that thinks this venue works as a "historic house tour". If you want to see how it's properly done, just go next door to Spadina House.

It needs to change its function, or stay in limbo. It's a 20th century folly that was never finished in the first place, and is an embarrassment as far as restoration goes. People may buy a ticket to wander around and see how the Edwardian rich tried to live (which it fails miserably at), or worse...book your wedding reception there. It will NEVER make enough money to do anything, and the city is never going to sink the dollars it requires without an actual purpose. Whipping this place into proper shape will START at $100 million.

So, the way I see it, there are two options.

1...just sell the thing to a Russian billionaire for whatever the city can get (probably get $50 mil for it if it's marketed properly) and they can throw another $100 million into it so it can return to its original purpose....a folly for the stupidly rich with delusions of grandeur.

2...Give it an actual useful function. A new modern art gallery would work very nicely. Modernism would juxtapose nicely inside, where most of the interior is unfinished anyway. Perhaps a proper home for MOCCA, or a combined home for several Canadian modernist institutions. Canadian modernism has always been under-rated internationally, and I suspect that's because it has never had a major venue to show it off en masse in an impressive manner.

Casa Loma has quite a bit of space, and many rooms that would make great galleries. The elevated parking lot could be demolished, and some really fantastic modern wing could be built there. This is something patrons could find major donors to underwrite. Its current function isn't going to interest anyone, and even with the $20 million the city has thrown into fixing it up, it's still a falling apart sad place furnished with a hodgepodge of crap from lawn sales.
 
The April Fool's joke...lame
The topic...not lame.

Keeping Casa Loma in limbo forever is just not going to work. Sadly, the real joke is on the city, that thinks this venue works as a "historic house tour". If you want to see how it's properly done, just go next door to Spadina House.

To be fair, it isn't that the city thinks so-and-so, so much as the operational status quo's been grandfathered in from Kiwanis wholesale...
 
Freshcutgrass: Somehow I manage to agree and disagree with you at the same time... Casa Loma definitely needs 'something' but I definitely wouldn't sell it, no matter what... and I just don't see the fit with a modern art museum here. I can't help but feel that modern art needs a blank canvas around it, and Casa Loma definitely isn't a blank canvas. The problem with the castle is that as with the city it lords over it suffers an identity crisis. The very thing that makes the castle interesting is in fact its history and the story of the hubris of its owner and the classic downfall, all against the backdrop of the Edwardian Toronto (so on and so on). The castle does a miserable job of telling the story, and lets face it, without the story it's just another drafty old building. Improve the quality of the narrative and tours, improve the restoration, add more artefacts and more context, and brand it better, quite simply, and Casa Loma could be one of the more interesting sites to visit in the city. Heck, time the whole thing with a made-for-television movie or something and do a massive, creative add campaign around the city. It just needs to raise its profile. Its current status is probably more of a reflection on Kiwanis than on the merits of the site itself.
 
The city should also invest some money towards improving Spadina Road. The view as you're travelling north on Spadina towards Dupont is quite scenic with Casa Loma on the hill. Unfortunately, the overhead wires weren't buried when they built the Spadina subway. The wires should be buried and ornamental street lighting installed. It's too bad that Casa Loma didn't inspire a grander built form around it and more ambitious road design, but there's a lot that can be done today.
 
Casa Loma definitely needs 'something' but I definitely wouldn't sell it, no matter what

Well, I know it might sound terrible at first, but functioning well as what it was intended to be isn't such a terrible fate for Casa Loma. It's still a part of the built environment that we can enjoy without it being public property. Most buildings in the city are privately owned. I'd rather it be all it can be, rather than languish in its present state. Leaving it in the hands of government is the biggest problem...they are usually poor stewards of things like this, and in a lot of cases, simply demolishing things so they don't have to worry about them anymore is their favourite thing. We are VERY lucky Casa Loma wast simply demolished (Chorley park wasn't so lucky).

But yea, that wouldn't be my first choice either. And it's highly unlikely anyway.


and I just don't see the fit with a modern art museum here. I can't help but feel that modern art needs a blank canvas around it, and Casa Loma definitely isn't a blank canvas.

Oh...that's just the conventional wisdom. And when it comes to modernist art, convention is sometimes the enemy. Modernist art in traditional spaces can be a wonderful juxtaposition, just as modern furniture can look best in a traditional space (I can't imagine a better place for an Even Penny than Sir Henry's bathroom). We have come to see using old industrial space as a gallery, as the Distillery District has shown, so why not a castle? It isn't like it is a new idea....what do you think the Louvre is? Closer to home, where do you think the AGO started...what was once a private mansion. Sorry, but the idea that art is always best enjoyed in a void is not an idea I support.


The problem with the castle is that as with the city it lords over it suffers an identity crisis.

Oh...not that old story again. Cities don't have identity issues...people do. I for one, identify quite strongly with the city, and more importantly...in a very positive way. If some people don't...that's their problem.


The very thing that makes the castle interesting is in fact its history and the story of the hubris of its owner and the classic downfall, all against the backdrop of the Edwardian Toronto (so on and so on).
Heck, time the whole thing with a made-for-television movie or something and do a massive, creative add campaign around the city.

To be honest, it really isn't all that interesting of a story. If it is...write a book. Ooops...they already did. Riches to rag stories and the downfall of the wealthy has always been popular with regular folks. Watching trainwrecks is our most popular pastime...hence the popularity of reality tv. I don't think that route is the one for Casa Loma. Let the CBC do a made-for-tv movie about the life and times of Sir Henry. Some people might even watch it...but I don't see this as the long term goal for the building. History is full of barons and industrialists...Sir Henry is just not that compelling as some kind of poor Canadian version of a Vanderbilt.



It just needs to raise its profile.

And the best way to do that is to put it to good use. And promoting Canadian art is far more useful than trying to interest people in the life and times of one Sir Henry.


Improve the quality of the narrative and tours, improve the restoration, add more artefacts and more context, and brand it better, quite simply, and Casa Loma could be one of the more interesting sites to visit in the city.

But that is never going to happen, because doing so would require an amount of money that is NEVER going to materialize. This only works when the contents are intact. Casa Loma was acquired by the city empty and only partly finished, for the owed back taxes ($27k). It should have paid Sir Henry for the contents, and then at least it would have had a chance. As it stands, putting Casa Loma back to its proper context would cost so much money, the city couldn't afford to buy a single painting, let alone fill an entire castle full of the appropriate stuff. Walking around there looking at the bits and pieces of junk they have in there now is laughable.



Its current status is probably more of a reflection on Kiwanis than on the merits of the site itself.

Sure it is. But who kept it that way for 74 frigging years? The city. Like I said...as the owners, they are the ones who couldn't come up with anything better for 74 years. The Kiwanis are just doing what they do...try and raise money for their causes. And while they have many good causes, Casa Loma is not one of them unfortunately. They only use it as a cash cow to do other things.
 
Well, I know it might sound terrible at first, but functioning well as what it was intended to be isn't such a terrible fate for Casa Loma. It's still a part of the built environment that we can enjoy without it being public property. Most buildings in the city are privately owned. I'd rather it be all it can be, rather than languish in its present state. Leaving it in the hands of government is the biggest problem...they are usually poor stewards of things like this, and in a lot of cases, simply demolishing things so they don't have to worry about them anymore is their favourite thing. We are VERY lucky Casa Loma wast simply demolished (Chorley park wasn't so lucky).

I agree that we are lucky to have Casa Loma, and lucky that it has survived all these years as the anachronism that it is, which only underscores for me what a shame it is it isn't better appreciated, in every sense of the word. The gardens are quite nice, as I recall (though it's been years for me). The views from the towers are impressive and the tunnel/stables are way cool! It truly is an exceptional house and I just wish that it were presented as such. Dundurn Castle in Hamilton comes to mind. Maybe Parkwood in Oshawa? There aren't a lot of historic homes of this scale open to the public in Ontario (in Canada really) so I think it would be such a shame to lose one of them.


Oh...that's just the conventional wisdom. And when it comes to modernist art, convention is sometimes the enemy. Modernist art in traditional spaces can be a wonderful juxtaposition, just as modern furniture can look best in a traditional space (I can't imagine a better place for an Even Penny than Sir Henry's bathroom). We have come to see using old industrial space as a gallery, as the Distillery District has shown, so why not a castle? It isn't like it is a new idea....what do you think the Louvre is? Closer to home, where do you think the AGO started...what was once a private mansion. Sorry, but the idea that art is always best enjoyed in a void is not an idea I support.

The Louvre houses antiquities and the 'grand masters', not modern art... not to say I dislike the contrast between modern art and older heritage architecture. I love what is happening at the Distillery, for example. It's just that I tend to be a little picky in how that contrast plays out. There is a certain 'minimalism' to old industrial spaces or medieval castles/ancient ruins... and even the clean Georgian lines of the Grange for that matter. Casa Loma is a Victorian folly, like the Brighton Pavilian for example, and I think it may just offer too much visual competition for the art. Could be wrong, though i'd be far more excited about an 'AGO Modern' at the Canada Malting Silo site... but maybe I am being too picky! If the plan was good, and it were an issue of saving the house, it would be a no-brainer, obviously!


Oh...not that old story again. Cities don't have identity issues...people do. I for one, identify quite strongly with the city, and more importantly...in a very positive way. If some people don't...that's their problem. .

Cities are people, and they are a reflection of the people who live there, who build them. Paris is Paris because of the Parisians etc. If heritage or history or preservation get little widespread imperative in Toronto it is a reflection of our collective values, which in this specific case (Heritage) is tied to our identity. I cannot see it any other way... and I'm not denying that there are individuals and groups and associations here who do care passionately about these things. I'm talking about deeper, more pervasive attitudes.



To be honest, it really isn't all that interesting of a story. If it is...write a book. Ooops...they already did. Riches to rag stories and the downfall of the wealthy has always been popular with regular folks. Watching trainwrecks is our most popular pastime...hence the popularity of reality tv. I don't think that route is the one for Casa Loma. Let the CBC do a made-for-tv movie about the life and times of Sir Henry. Some people might even watch it...but I don't see this as the long term goal for the building. History is full of barons and industrialists...Sir Henry is just not that compelling as some kind of poor Canadian version of a Vanderbilt.

I couldn't disagree more. History is full of Kings and Queens and battles and all kinds of other things that are all dull if approached as such, which is the Canadian way after all. Besides, although a comparison to Vanderbuilt or a wider context may be interesting in one sense it is completely irrelevant in a more important sense when looking at Toronto and Toronto's history and what the story of Sir Henry tells us about us and our past. It is this specificity which makes History important, and interesting quite frankly.


Sure it is. But who kept it that way for 74 frigging years? The city. Like I said...as the owners, they are the ones who couldn't come up with anything better for 74 years. The Kiwanis are just doing what they do...try and raise money for their causes. And while they have many good causes, Casa Loma is not one of them unfortunately. They only use it as a cash cow to do other things.

Agreed, and you're right that this is the fault of both the city and Kiwanis.
 

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