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Central Waterfront 1950s-70s

junctionist

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When you think about, it's amazing that we still build these massive complexes at the water's edge. For decades we've heard complaints about how condos block the lake (like Harbour Square), yet here we are, filling the other half of our downtown waterfront with buildings at the water's edge. What most people seem to want, based on the complaints about condos at the lake, is everything south of Queens Quay to be parks. Some public buildings like galleries and museums would also be appreciated. We're going to have a great waterfront based on the current plan, but I wonder if the people of this city will appreciate this version of a great waterfront.
 

SP!RE

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If you had seen how abuzz and well-programmed Sherbourne Common to Sugar Beach was tonight, you'd have no concerns about the future of the waterfront. Maybe that sounds overly optimistic, but it was absolutely gorgeous and the most idyllic experience I think I could possibly have along the water's edge in this city.
 

SP!RE

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And if expanses of park-space without large buildings is what you're after, we have the Toronto Islands at your disposal! :)
 

taal

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If you had seen how abuzz and well-programmed Sherbourne Common to Sugar Beach was tonight, you'd have no concerns about the future of the waterfront. Maybe that sounds overly optimistic, but it was absolutely gorgeous and the most idyllic experience I think I could possibly have along the water's edge in this city.
Did you see the show at 10 ? : )
 

Silence&Motion

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When you think about, it's amazing that we still build these massive complexes at the water's edge. For decades we've heard complaints about how condos block the lake (like Harbour Square), yet here we are, filling the other half of our downtown waterfront with buildings at the water's edge. What most people seem to want, based on the complaints about condos at the lake, is everything south of Queens Quay to be parks. Some public buildings like galleries and museums would also be appreciated. We're going to have a great waterfront based on the current plan, but I wonder if the people of this city will appreciate this version of a great waterfront.
I think Harbour Square has negatively overshadowed everything else on the waterfront for the past 4 decades. And understandably so. It continues to amaze me how you can walk along Queens Quay from York to Bay without any sense that you're on the waterfront.

The foot of Yonge really should be surrounded by public space, but even though we're getting another condo, the difference between Waterlink and Harbour Square is day and night. You definitely feel close to the water east of Yonge, even with all the construction still going on.

Maybe once EBF is finished, Habour Square will finally seem like the exception rather than the rule.
 

Lansdude

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I think Harbour Square has negatively overshadowed everything else on the waterfront for the past 4 decades. And understandably so. It continues to amaze me how you can walk along Queens Quay from York to Bay without any sense that you're on the waterfront.

The foot of Yonge really should be surrounded by public space, but even though we're getting another condo, the difference between Waterlink and Harbour Square is day and night. You definitely feel close to the water east of Yonge, even with all the construction still going on.

Maybe once EBF is finished, Habour Square will finally seem like the exception rather than the rule.
In 15-20 years we'll be in the horizon for tearing down this damn thing. The retail makeover will buy it some time. Built in 1979, though it looks older. Probably the building I hate most in the city. They can raze Westin Harbour Castle too (1975). Disgraceful bunker architecture.
 
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guitarchitect

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I never noticed the awkward looking, cut off building on the east side of Waterlink at Pier 27. Looks out of proportion / balance to me. Are they hoping to add to it later?
Nope. The issue was that Redpath didn't want anyone to have the ability to look down and see their operations - combined with the fact that it's a noisy operation. There were two options - put a free-standing really tall sound wall there, or design a building with its "back" to the Redpath lands that would act as a sound buffer. The latter option was opted for. The design of the building is "single loaded", meaning there are only units on one side of the hallway. The other side has clerestory frosted windows (to allow light in but prevent views), and that hallway (along with the design of the exterior wall) act as the sound buffer for the building and the site as a whole.

That fin you see in the right edge of your picture was designed so that a small outbuilding at the edge of the site (near the water) wouldn't be visible to residents. Even though it basically amounted to a little knock-down storage shed, Redpath asserted that it must be shielded from view.
 

Ramako

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In 15-20 years we'll be in the horizon for tearing down this damn thing. The retail makeover will buy it some time. Built in 1979, though it looks older. Probably the building I hate most in the city. They can raze Westin Harbour Castle too (1975). Disgraceful bunker architecture.
I can't think of a likely circumstance in which the condo board(s) and owners of those buildings would tear them down.
 

Zeiss

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In 15-20 years we'll be in the horizon for tearing down this damn thing. The retail makeover will buy it some time. Built in 1979, though it looks older. Probably the building I hate most in the city. They can raze Westin Harbour Castle too (1975). Disgraceful bunker architecture.
You can hate the Harbour square buildings as much as you like.
Yes, it could have been designed better in regards of access to the lake, but you have to take into consideration that when it was build, here the whole area was industrial and unpleasant and the concept was different. I can tell you that in 33, 55 and 65 HS, there are more than thousand inhabitants, and I can assure you that we are very happy to be living in those buildings. The quality of the materials and the size of the units are far superior than most of the new buildings around us. In our building we have real community, people move to smaller or bigger apartments if they need to, but stay here. And if you want to see the lake while you walk between Bay and York you can do that if you want, just use the walkway in the park south of the buildings.
 

SP!RE

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Unfortunately, Zeiss, for all the talk about how buildings should be designed in order to serve their inhabitants well, people on UT often see a building as nothing more than an aesthetic exercise.

Of course Harbour Square will not be torn down in the coming decades, and of course that would be ridiculous given how many people call it home.

Small, incremental improvements could create a much better experience at ground level, but incremental is the key word.

I think there are many exciting possibilities for projects like Harbour Square in the future; I can picture various cost-efficient upgrades that would make the buildings an even better place to live and a better experience for the city at large.

But demolition would be 1) wasteful, 2) mean the destruction of homes and relocation of thousands of people and 3) therefore, will not happen.
 

Silence&Motion

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You can hate the Harbour square buildings as much as you like.
Yes, it could have been designed better in regards of access to the lake, but you have to take into consideration that when it was build, here the whole area was industrial and unpleasant and the concept was different. I can tell you that in 33, 55 and 65 HS, there are more than thousand inhabitants, and I can assure you that we are very happy to be living in those buildings. The quality of the materials and the size of the units are far superior than most of the new buildings around us. In our building we have real community, people move to smaller or bigger apartments if they need to, but stay here. And if you want to see the lake while you walk between Bay and York you can do that if you want, just use the walkway in the park south of the buildings.
People overemphasize the extent to which Toronto's central waterfront was ever "industrialized". The fact is, that the industry and shipping that city planners envisioned when they began to fill in the harbour south of the rail yards never materialized. Most of that land sat as empty fields that were eventually turned into parking lots. The water's edge itself handled mostly pleasure boating and ferry services.

So Harbour Square never had to be built as a fortress. That it was built that way stands as one of the major blunders on a long list of urban planning failures that have plagued Toronto's history.

I understand the need to weigh community stability over redevelopment for aesthetic/design purposes. Hopefully the people who think middle/upper class buildings like Harbour Square should be preserved are also against all of the slum clearance and public housing re-development that disrupt poorer communities as well.
 

interchange42

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Sorry, but by declaring that "the industry and shipping that city planners envisioned when they began to fill in the harbour south of the rail yards never materialized", you are misrepresenting what actually happened. Queens Quay Terminal, the Power Plant, Redpath, the LCBO complex, and book-ending grain silos remain as testament to the buildings that were there. Many marine terminal warehouses have long since disappeared. Much of the industry moved east into the area today that we now call the Port Lands.

What is the indication that Harbour Square was built as a fortress to emphasize the area's industrial past? That's not my take at all on why it was built as you see it.

The parking garage, of course, is the big problem here. It's above ground instead of below because it's cheaper to build up than down, and far easier if you don't have to deal with the seepage issues presented by having the lake mere metres away.

Also, at the time there was no draw to the area other than as a spot to hop on the ferry to the Islands. People certainly did not stroll along Queens Quay, and it seems no one even assumed that might be a possibility in the future, as the public realm along that street wasn't given a second thought there.

You also speak as if there's a possibility that Harbour Square might be torn down in the foreseeable future. How could that happen?

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