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G.L.17

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https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/20...-torontos-most-important-street-micallef.html

A private cafe in plain view on Toronto’s most important street: Micallef
Bistro 1858, the new restaurant for Deloitte employees privatizes some very public space at Yonge and Adelaide.

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In the lobby of the 44-storey east tower lies artwork Micah Lexier called “Two Circles.” (VINCE TALOTTA /TORONTO STAR) | SHAWN MICALLEFLiving Columnist
Mon., Oct. 31, 2016

Have you been to the Accountant Zoo, Toronto’s newest downtown attraction? It’s on the northwest corner of Yonge and Adelaide Sts. where people strolling by can watch accountants in their own habitat. It’s not a petting zoo though; the accountants are safely behind glass, seemingly oblivious to the world outside.

The accountants here look friendly enough. Some of them type on laptops, crunching numbers. Some are having meetings that seem very serious, probably doing an audit. Others seem much more relaxed, their identification cards bouncing at the end of their lanyards as they laugh and talk animatedly together.

This zoo actually looks like a bright and cheery cafe, but something’s different. Called Bistro 1858, it’s the new private restaurant for Deloitte employees who’ve moved into offices here in the Bay Adelaide Centre’s recently opened east tower. If you, non-accountant, walk up to the glass doors on Yonge you’ll find them locked with a sign that reads “No Entry. Please use our main entrance on Adelaide”. There, in the building’s lobby, a security guard at the entrance to Bistro 1858 only lets in employees and their guests.

This wouldn’t matter so much if it were tucked away in the basement or on an upper floor. Instead it’s like an elite airport lounge, but even those are generally kept out of view of the rabble who’ve only bought an economy ticket.

Saddest about this private cafe in a most public place is the denial of the public realm’s value and the mix it brings to our daily interactions. The closed door says no to chance encounters and overhearing random snippets of conversations from people we don’t know, some of the ways we learn about each other and gather new ideas.

The 1858 in the cafe’s name is a reference to the year Deloitte first opened a Canadian office in Montreal. The irony is this venerable company’s website boasts of their “offices of the future” with “camaraderie and community” and that they are “more social, more flexible, more technological and free of internal silos.” Yet they’ve created a silo of their own, isolating themselves from the city.

Sometimes the problem with a building is how it’s designed; other times how it’s run. Here the latter is the issue as the new building is a fine addition to the financial district and completes this block of the Bay Adelaide Centre that first got its start in the late 1980s but was halted by the early 1990s recession. That resulted in the notorious “Bay Adelaide Stump” that stood here for more than 10 years with its unfinished concrete elevator shaft, a kind of memorial to the hazards of capitalism.

The lobby by the Bistro entrance has a sky lit atrium that extends up all six storeys of the building’s podium, with neon-green staircases criss-crossing the open space in a rather dazzling, high wire manner. On the opposite side is the lobby for the 44-storey east tower, a massive glassed-in space akin to some of the grand lobbies of Toronto’s largest bank towers built decades ago.

An impressive art piece by Toronto artist Micah Lexier called “Two Circles” has been installed here. Two, seven-metre-in-diameter black and white circles on either side of the elevators, one solid, one an outline, are made of 1.6 million hand-made ceramic sticks, so be sure to take a close look at its details when passing by. The outline circle on the north side, along Temperance St., pulls the eye down to the labyrinthine PATH corridors below.

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Lexier's installation consists of two, seven-metre-in-diameter black and white circles on either side of the elevators that leads down to the PATH. (VINCE TALOTTA / TORONTO STAR)
North of the cafe at the Temperance corner are two heritage facades of former Holt Renfrew buildings that were previously on the Adelaide corner. They were moved here to complement the refurbished Dineen Building to the north, creating a kind of heritage intersection.

All of this puts new commercial life back on Yonge St. whose energy along here was long ago sucked underground when the PATH system was developed. Bistro 1858 could be part of this urban mix but has chosen to keep those glass doors shut. Apart from the opportunity to stand outside and watch the accountants work and play, the cafe corner offers nothing to the sidewalk and squelches the possibility of interaction between public and semi-public realms.

Perhaps one day the doors will open and the accounts will be free to enjoy their city.


Shawn Micallef writes every Saturday about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef
 

Silence&Motion

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I haven't see the lobby in person yet, but if these images accurately capture it, then this lobby sets a new standard in oppressive, soul-killing corporate aesthetics.

Reminds me of Zoidberg's new shell:
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LUVIT!

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I do not like that this very public downtown corner has a private corporate 'cafe'. This takes away all that a downtown is supposed to be with lively activities day and night. The space does look great and I would love to go there to have lunch or dinner or a coffee..but it it private. Not good planning. I thinks its great that the employees have a space to go to...however not here.
 

Contra

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Click the link. The first image is of the cafe from the exterior.

That's pretty much a shot of glare with the hint of activity inside. If I were to look at this on a yelp page for instance it certainly wouldn't beckon me in. Pretty poor choice of photos for an article about a cafe in plain sight that you can't see in the article.
 

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