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Toronto Architecture from the 1940's and 1950's

thecharioteer

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#1
A companion thread to thedeepend's thread on the 60's and 70's.

In the same way that Eric Arthur described Toronto's mid-19th century architecture as "a late-flowering Georgian" period, Toronto experienced in the post-war era a late-flowering Modernism.

One gem was the 1947 Adelaide Coach Terminal, designed by John B. Parkin, a commuter bus terminal on the south side of Adelaide, just west of Yonge, site of the former Grand Opera House. It lasted about 10 years until replaced by Bregman and Hamann's Board of Trade Building (itself replaced in the 80's by Scotia Plaza). An elegant pavilion, it could easily be mistaken for something from the 2010's instead of the 1940's:

























1954:

 
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thedeepend

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#3
The artwork inside, if originally part of the building, is a surprising touch of sophistication.
well yes and no in a way. it looks to be fairly bog standard mid-century figuration, and to that extent is actually quite conservative, given that the late 1940's is when modernism in painting began its zenith, with the rise of abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock, Les Automatistes in Quebec like Jean Paul Riopelle, and the great late-periods of European masters like Matisse and Picasso. From the perspective of the avant-garde of the 1940’s, the mural looks to be a lot more conservative than the building housing it.




Jean-Paul Riopelle, 1948, Untitled
 
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#4
Is Parkin the most abused architect in Toronto history? It seems that almost all of his buildings have been either destroyed or gruesomely compromised/neglected.
 

junctionist

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#5
well yes and no in a way. it looks to be fairly bog standard mid-century figuration, and to that extent is actually quite conservative, given that the late 1940's is when modernism in painting began its zenith, with the rise of abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock, Les Automatistes in Quebec like Jean Paul Riopelle, and the great late-periods of European masters like Matisse and Picasso. From the perspective of the avant-garde of the 1940’s, the mural looks to be a lot more conservative than the building housing it.
[/I]
The art may be conservative, but it's nicely integrated into a somewhat humble public structure related to transportation. The Yonge line's original stations contained no artwork. When Montreal opened the Metro in 1966, all the public art integrated into the station interiors was a big deal.
 
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adma

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#6
It'd still be interesting to find out (a) *who* did it (York Wilson?), and (b) what, if any, its subsequent whereabouts are. I mean, it may be conservative relative to Riopelle, but it's not *that* fatally conservative or not-in-keeping for its time and place.

What's most noteworthy here, of course: this, in effect, was the template for Toronto's "subway aesthetic".
 

thedeepend

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#7
The art may be conservative, but it's nicely integrated into a somewhat humble public structure related to transportation. The Yonge line's original stations contained no artwork. When Montreal opened the Metro in 1966, all the public art integrated into the station interiors was a big deal.
you're right...having art at all was a progressive move.
and it was motivated no doubt by the same kind of civic-minded aestheticism that gave rise to things like the bas reliefs on the old Toronto Postal Delivery Building, another 'functional' building with a public art component. the building is an entirely different style, far more grandiose and 6 years earlier, but the artwork on its edifice comes from a similar sensibility, one motivated by a belief in the public and pedagogical utility of a populist art.
 

thecharioteer

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#8
Is Parkin the most abused architect in Toronto history? It seems that almost all of his buildings have been either destroyed or gruesomely compromised/neglected.
It seems that way, particularly after the demolition of Terminal 1. I think that one of his best earlier buildings that seems more or less intact is his Sun Life Assurance Building of Canada at 200 University Avenue. The Panda Archives have a number of pics of architectural models from 1957 and 1958, but nothing of the completed building (completed in 1961).

Robert Moffat writes in "Toronto Modern":

The former Sun Life building at 200 University Avenue was completed in 1961 as the insurance company’s Toronto headquarters. Designed by John B. Parkin Associates, Sun Life bears more than a passing resemblance to Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s landmark 1958 Inland Steel building in Chicago: the Toronto building’s projecting exterior columns, near-identical curtain-wall grid and shiny metallic silver finish (anodized aluminum instead of Inland’s stainless steel) mirror the SOM design approach, as do the fine proportions, high-quality materials and precise detailing.

As one approaches the University Avenue entrance, a sense of ceremony is created by the triangular forecourt, a modest but effective urban space, and the broad open-tread steps ascending to the building’s low podium. The podium was once linked at the southeast corner to a separate banking pavilion, a vestigial appendage long since removed. Inside, the original interiors reflected the building’s prestigious tenants, which included the executive offices of machinery giant Massey-Ferguson and the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan). In the main lobby, Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona chairs in black leather established the tone of corporate wealth and power, set off by white granite floors and cream travertine walls. Abstract art expressed forward-looking modernity: the elevator lobby was dominated by sculptor Louis Archambault’s Sunburst, a massive, spiky disc of cast bronze suspended from the ceiling and intended to symbolize the company’s size and vigor. The latest Knoll and Herman Miller designs furnished the general offices and reception areas.

In addition to its architectural merits, Sun Life is also notable for defying city bylaws requiring University Avenue buildings to be clad in masonry and flush to the sidewalk line. The resulting heavy stolidity of earlier buildings is typified by the 1957 Bank of Canada immediately to the north, an effective foil for Sun Life’s lightness and transparency.


http://robertmoffatt115.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/sun-life’s-transparent-lightbox/











 
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thecharioteer

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#11
Postwar Toronto saw somewhat of a building boom in movie theatres both downtown and the neighbourhoods. The preferred style? A Toronto version of Art Moderne:

Odeon Fairlawn 1947:

fairlawn.jpg


Odeon Carlton 1948:

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odeoncarlton.jpg


PHOTO - TORONTO - ODEON CARLTON THEATRE - CARLTON AT YONGE - INTERIOR - NOTE ORGAN LOWER RIGHT.jpg


Nortown Theatre 1948 (Eglinton and Bathurst):

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University Theatre 1948:

PHOTO - TORONTO - UNIVERSITY THEATRE - BLOOR STREET - STREET VIEW - 1948.jpg


PHOTO - TORONTO - UNIVERSITY THEATRE - BLOOR STREET - LOBBY - 1948.jpg


The Downtown 1948:

downtown1.jpg


The Odeon Humber 1949:

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The Odeon Danforth 1948:

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The Glendale (Avenue Road, north of Lawrence), 1947:

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The Willow Theatre (Yonge and Ellerslie) 1947:

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A style that even was evident in Port Arthur, Ontario. The Paramount 1948:

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thecharioteer

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#13
Great pics of Don Mills, deepend. Not far, and predating it by about a decade, is Sunnybrook Hospital, begun in 1943 and opened in 1948. Designed by Allward & Guinlock, it was originally a veteran's hospital. Interesting on a number of levels, both for its site-planning as well as its restrained massing and design, both somewhat lost over the decades by additions, parking and roadways.

The following pics are from the Sunnybrook Archives

(http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuse..._detail&fl=0&lg=English&ex=780&hs=0&rd=216046)

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Today:

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Some additional postcards:

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POSTCARD - TORONTO - SUNNYBROOK HOSPITAL - AERIAL - SEPIA.jpg


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From the Panda Archives:

 

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thecharioteer

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#14
Hospitals Part II

Sunnybrook was, in a sense, a 1940's version of Darling and Pearson's 1910's design for TGH on College Street, with its vision of courtyards, exposure to light and integration with the outdoors. For other downtown hospitals which did not have the benefit of blank slate sites, the design process was more organic, often starting from large houses, numerous additions and ultimately major buildings (i.e. Wellesley Hospital). Doctors Hospital on Brunswick north of College followed this tradition. Ironically, both Doctors and Wellesley are both gone now, the victims of forced amalgamations with larger hospitals in the 1990's.

Doctors Hospital, Crang & Boake, 1958:













 
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thecharioteer

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#15
The Westbury Hotel, designed by Peter Dickinson while at Page & Steele 1957, north addition by WZMH 1963:

westbury-hotel-1.jpg


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POSTCARD - TORONTO - WESTBURY HOTEL - POLO BAR - 1960s.jpg


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The Westbury’s exterior represented the lightness, airiness and transparency of Dickinson’s best work during the mid-1950s: horizontal bands of windows in slim metal frames, contrasting solid wall planes of buff-coloured brick and daringly cantilevered balconies with translucent glass panels. A space-age butterfly canopy of steel and concrete, flanked by lush greenery, identified the main entrance on Wood Street.

http://robertmoffatt115.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/meet-you-at-the-westbury-hotel/

Today:

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