News   Apr 19, 2024
 5.3K     1 
News   Apr 19, 2024
 1.4K     4 
News   Apr 19, 2024
 2.3K     4 

Top 10 residential towers in T.O.

"Pippypoos" and "doodads" are graphic-designer-speak for gratuitous visual elements used by second rate designers to gussy up their work and try and make it seem more important than it is.

Obviously, some architects use three dimensional pippypoos and doodads too - and we have neither a design review system, nor a particularly visually literate buying public, to thwart them in this. They can do what they want, this isn't Russia. Heck, even Russia isn't Russia any more.

Pippypoos and doodads are the More Is Less credo writ large. Large, out of proportion, and made of precast usually.

The mushroom-like sprouting of pippypoos and doodads is actively enabled by the kind of omnivorous, cultural do-me-ism that disses aesthetic discussions based on quality of design as, variously, "style wars" or "the battle between ancients and moderns" and gleefully awaits the return to temporary, hothouse, fashionability of some particularly gruesome stylistic abberation as proof of that credo, willfully promotes bad design as mere imperfection and downplays good design as dullness. In short, an attitude that abdicates any attempt at discrimination based on quality. Pippypoo and doodad mongers are nourished by the spread of such attitudes, they draw strength from them as they rest, hanging upside down in dark rooms with their wings folded around them, gathering their strength for their next onslaught..

There are musical pippypoos and doodads in pop music. There are literary pippypoos and doodads. There are theatrical pippypoos and doodads, and operatic pippypoos and doodads too, and ...
 
Babel: Isn't it easy to espouse the 'timelessness' of minimalism now when minimalism happens to be the general prevailing design aesthetic, or fashion? How long before we're screaming out for a flounce or a folly, for exuberance and excess, turning our bored, collective myopic gaze away from sterile, constipated minimal styles?? It's all a matter of context, and a matter of time I dare say! Besides, a little drama or theatricality goes a long way: Paris is a beautiful city, obviously. Yet all too often one grey, aesthetically perfect and tastefull Haussman-designed street just seems to fade into another (especially on one of those typically grey Parisian days!). Rather it's those flights of fancy - whether gothic, baroque, modern or neo/post this or that - that tend to breathe life into all that perfection.
 
...and from the perspective of an open-ended beholder, as opposed to a simple practicing designer, we're still richer for blah blah blah. Heck, even if I held certain firm principles within my own design practice, I'd still maintain it's healthier to keep an open mind towards the polyglot real world out there, pippypoos, doodads and all. Even if I were actively working toward "the better", I'd know it's ultimately in vain...and it's quite alright. (Within reason, of course.)

So it's not so much an abdication of "discrimination based on quality", as a simple recognition of the fundamental (yet healthy) vanity of the exercise. Likewise, in my approach, it may not be just a simple-minded embrace of the "temporary, hothouse, fashionability of some particularly gruesome stylistic abberation"--indeed, it may be the anticipation thereof. The so-called "jadedness" earned through my years of cultural observation can cut both ways, y'know--it may even be a sort of stealth "quality discrimination", or at least the allowance thereof. (Better that than the abdication thereof.)

Which is why, ultimately, once I put everything through the sifter...I still see the Morgan and Westside Lofts as a distinct-yet-fundamentally-equal-or-at-least-complimentary pair, rather than one-good/one-bad. Between those two, the gulf's smaller than, say, between the Morgan and the French Quarter (and I don't just mean geography). I just don't see those "design problems" with the Morgan as, well...problematic enough, under the circumstances. Sure, as in so many such fauxworks, there could be a formulaic undertone of "geez, I really didn't want to design this, but the client wanted it, so let's make the best of it"...but here, they did make the best of it. Yet I say so with an asterisk, because I'm well, warily aware of this kind of stuff being an inherent middlebrow-hack-pleaser. And it's nothing to do whether *I* would choose to design that way, or choose someone to design for me that way. I'm taking the ultimate "uninvolved" fly-on-the-wall position here.

And again...once upon a time, Uno Prii was commonly dismissed as an architectural pippydoo/doodad-mongerer. Heck, even *I'm* still vaguely wary of the "Prii cult" for that very reason, i.e. something about the pro-Prii revisionism smells a little too overwrought for its own good.

So now, regarding this whole furshlugginer mess on good-vs-bad aesthetics, for the obligatory Stockhausen quotation
911wtcreutersitaly.jpg
 
Heck, even *I'm* still vaguely wary of the "Prii cult" for that very reason

There's a Prii cult? Now there's a cult that should be banned.
 
...and I'm just as wary of the cult to ban the Prii cult, as I am of the Prii cult;-)
 
tudararms:

Minimalism today and flouncy folly castles tomorrow, and if they're both equally well designed who could possibly object?

In the cultural sector we've certainly got plenty of flounce with all those starchitect follies going up across the globe, and I'd say flouncy's still the prevailing aesthetic for that niche. Flouncy has legs. And, in a way, nothing new there - for instance, flouncy old seventeenth century Borromini is still Gehry's hero, the Grand Master Flounce he says he hasn't been able to improve on.

But how flouncy is Gehry really? After all, we saw him refine his AGO project, eliminating those strips of titanium on the Dundas facade, modifying that long visor thing to strengthen the effectiveness of the long second floor sculpture gallery that's open to view from the street. Less became more. Flouncy Bilbao was refined as it evolved too. The paring-down process rather than the pippypoo and doodad adding process can apply equally to minimalism as to flounce.
 
But modernism is all about fussiness as well - or rather, fussy in a strictly anti-fussy sort of way. A truly minimalist building is painstakingly designed to be so - Mies buildings were practicaly religious endeavours in their strict adherence to the "less is more" credo. Indeed, rococco and modernism are not so far apart on the design-sensibility spectrum as one might imagine prima faciae.
While I tend to agree with the "vanity issue" in design pronouncements, an honest, painstaking approach to design, whether it produces ornamentation or a minimalist tabula rasa, cannot be faked.
Thus while the Morgan may be a very good copy, it is definitely not a theft (to use BB's phrasology). It's failing is that it merely resurrects, but does not revive or rejuvanate.
However, I don't think that every building need do this. trhe Morgan's failures can be forgiven in that the resurrected corpse has been fairly well embalmed, cleaned up, and fits in well at the table. It's just that it isn't quite ready to jump back into the social scene.
 
ganjavih: The Prii cult meets once a year on midsummer eve. They dance naked in a circle on the roof of 77 Elm and shake their fists up at you. We expect pictures.

adma: Can there be any more "open-eyed beholders" than those who use the visual language of design to communicate their ideas and eke out a living? We're the former five year olds who amused ourselves for hours by drawing with coloured crayons on the back of envellopes, or made little sculptures out of Plasteceine, while our friends were out playing; who were good at art in school; who didn't "get" maths and science; who hated team sports; who weren't verbal. This is what we do.
 
Which is why, ultimately, once I put everything through the sifter...I still see the Morgan and Westside Lofts as a distinct-yet-fundamentally-equal-or-at-least-complimentary pair, rather than one-good/one-bad. Between those two, the gulf's smaller than, say, between the Morgan and the French Quarter (and I don't just mean geography). I just don't see those "design problems" with the Morgan as, well...problematic enough, under the circumstances.

And what "circumstances" are those?
The discussion seems to be taking minimal v. fussy as a purely aesthetic question -- always an inappropriate lens for urban architecture, especially utilitarian bldgs such as these.

What about context? Typological, architectural-historical, socioeconomic?

All the local neo-deco has looked sillier to me since I learned there never was much of a deco streetscape here, and very few towers in particular. True, many of those are near the Morgan -- but overall, highrise in TO (as in most cities not Chicago and NY) is overwhelmingly a post-1960 phenomenon.

A building like the Morgan that harks back to Central Park West (as you say, Adma) is inherently anachronistic here -- I would say silly. And it's so unsophisticated in part because people don't have historic models to compare it with.
 
^Not so Citydweller. Personnally I'm loving minimalism right now, but that's simply the context I - or the collective 'we' for the fashionistas among us - am in at the moment. Inevitably this will change though. Who knows, ten years from now I may be lauding chintz and Victoriana?! (God, is it possible??). The argument here is the use of 'designer speak' to force a justification or explanation of why someone (usually a designer or stylist or 'make-over' artist) thinks something works and something doesn't, as if it harkens to some transcendant truth of the universe. No offense to designers out there. I'm not knocking this. I'm just cautioning that there must always be some context: Why something 'works' today will be the precise reason why something doesn't work tomorrow...
 
tudararms:

If something is beautifully designed it will always "work" visually because it has aesthetic beauty. Today, tomorrow, forever.

Museums around the world display items from thousands of years ago that were produced by artists, and design objects manufactured by artisans, for precisely that reason. They are timeless.

Don't confuse condo advertising copy with design.
 
Forgot to add: Although there certainly are a number of significant historic examples of Deco in Toronto, one would probably have to look at the neo-gothic to consider something even approaching the true vernacular of architecture in this city (civic, residential and commercial for that matter). The irony here is that Toronto's vernacular is in and of itself derivative and recycled - the 'neo' in neo-gothic - whereby to my knowledge Toronto never existed in the middle ages! Yet does this ring untrue? Would the design for what is now 'old' City Hall have been rejected offhand as incongruent by those who claim to know better about these things? Or rather, does this in fact speak historically and organically to the evolution of this city and of those who built it and lived here? (that whole socio-historic context thing). Toronto may not have had the skyline of NYC or Chicago in the 20s and 30s but doesn't a desire to build like this say as much, if not more, about who we are in the Toronto of the hear and now? In its day Deco was about industry, growth and expansion, and it spoke of optimism and prosperity. Hmmmm, says a lot about us actually...
 
Babel: At heart I don't disagree with you, in the sense that excellence in any style will usually be recognized no matter the prevailing tastes. It's just that, we may often need a little time and/or context to truly be able to see this.
 
adma: Can there be any more "open-eyed beholders" than those who use the visual language of design to communicate their ideas and eke out a living? We're the former five year olds who amused ourselves for hours by drawing with coloured crayons on the back of envellopes, or made little sculptures out of Plasteceine, while our friends were out playing; who were good at art in school; who didn't "get" maths and science; who hated team sports; who weren't verbal. This is what we do.

...and ironically, if we may view school as a microcosm of "urbanity", you're presenting your own young self as a microclimate within the microcosm. Which, well, isn't terribly "urban". You were creating your own private Idaho--maybe out of disposition, maybe out of traumatic necessity, who knows. You were retreating, not "communicating".

So was I, maybe even more so--y'know, whatever Aspergers-esque thing. Yet, I'm strangely conciliatory. I was aware then, as I am now, that I was a microcosm within a fascinating macrocosm--even if said macrocosm wasn't always "of me". (Maybe my fellow students were part of my personal performance-art lifework? Who knows.)

That's why appreciating urbanism is different from (over?)-idealizing urbanism. And it's also why urbanism, architecture, etc defies easy shoehorning into "pure" art terms. Sure, "pure" art can do its little thing to punctuate things and push the bar and make things a little better--but it's only one bozo on the bus.

It's why the parameters are broader. And it's why I can sense whatever municipal design auspices out there (yes, including whatever "design review panels" may come to pass) feeling perfectly fine with the Morgan-Westside dialectic. Sure, it may be a bow to the vulgar populace, like granting equal cultural-award time to Tafelmusic and Barenaked Ladies--but, heck, that's the way it goes.

Look, Babel--you've got impeccable taste, I'm not one to deny it. But sometimes it's a little *too* impeccable for its own good. It may suit you, and this board, and it's something we can all learn positively from, but in practice (and yes, this may "cross a line"), this opera-foppery and Polariesque code-talking approach to our urban sphere doesn't translate terribly well into the real, expansive, unapologetically vulgar urban world, even with liberties taken. It's *part* of it--and a worthy part of it--but it ain't the whole shebang. And you probably know it as well as anybody...
 
Polari...someone actually used that word. *bemused*

AoD
 

Back
Top