What a great post. I agree with a lot of what you have to say. Two points that do come to mind:
1. If i'm reading Adma correctly he's arguing for thoughtfulness with respect to the existing built form, and though your 'hail the triumphs/lament the losses' approach nods to this it still strikes me as somewhat defeatist, suggesting as it does that ultimately we are helpless victims when it comes to heritage... and maybe we are when faced with such powerful conflicting interests (aka 'progress')? Yet...
2. Perhaps 'progress' is in the retention of existing forms, adapting them creatively, looking at them as opportunities rather than obstacles. In other words, perhaps it is the blockbusting TDC/TEC/Mirvish-Gehry approach to development that is the outmoded approach?
Also, definitions of "retention-worthy" change w/time; and even w/things like Mies and the Eaton Centre, we always have to remember--just because we did it such-and-such a way then, doesn't mean we would or ought to today. F'rinstance, my "imagine if John Andrews' Metro Centre was built" argument: a paraphrase of freshcutgrass might be making this argument today...
Could John Lyle's Union Station have been incorporated into Metro Centre? Sure...it could have (and that was a substantial building of pedigree). But they decided that it was best to give the architect carte-blanche and facadism was not part of John Andrews' vision for this project (I'm quite sure Andrews didn't lose a second's sleep over ordering it demolished).
Something to consider.
And also remember that my earlier point of attack vs. skyrise regarded not so much TD or Eaton Centre (or Gehry), but FCP
--a complex which, for all its height and scale, has been subject to a historically much more mixed response. And the "sacrificing the Bank of Toronto for Mies" alibi doesn't quite wash so easily when it comes to the old Star and Globe and BMO etc that were sacrificed for FCP--of course, that may not register for those who weren't alive then; but it's issues like that that sparked the preservation movement in the first place. To hail FCP today as an exemplar of "once upon a time, Toronto thought big, built big, etc" simply doesn't "ring true" in the same way that it does for TD. And it's not just or even primarily about what it replaced; it's about how it was deemed: blockbusting Edward Durell Stone schlock on the wrong side of urban history, w/the demolition a salt-on-the-wound accessory to the act. Stuff like FCP, or even more so NYC's WTC (or for that matter, MSG replacing Grand Central as the grandaddy of them all), were the archi-urban negative-epiphany equivalent of the "plastics" quote in The Graduate. (The Eaton Centre, though, was let off the negative-judgment hook, largely because Zeidler's high-tech was regarded as less retrograde-banal than Stone's Carrara-obsession--then again, by Traynor's standard, Zeidler's 70s-style high-tech obsession might as well be deemed one-trick-pony banal a la Gehry. Which you can take as a warning against the heavy-handedness of Traynor-esque judgments.)
And finally, for the umpteenth time: when I talk about "thoughtfulness" and "appreciation for the old", I mean it in a way that, even if it's a common accessory to building-hugging, is as strategically divorced
from building-hugging as possible--even when it comes to the Mirvish/Gehry block. Yeah, I know a lot of you are antsy and suspicious because you regard it as a threatening fly in the ointment re the present project--but it's not about "saving", or "building": it's about "perceiving". And skyrise and Traynor are guilty of the same defect: of putting too many eggs into the coffee-table-scaled "grand projects" basket. When in fact, most people aren't
like that--and it's no accident that the rise of architectural tourism over the past few decades has hinged at least as much upon the "old stuff" as the new and snazzy, all the more so when one considers that it was losses like Penn Station which sparked that rampant preemptive interest in and fascination with the pre-existing.
Like the authors of volumes like these were in-deep w/the architectural preservation movement--and it shows.
Though I suspect that some of that equilibrium's been upset or fraught by schism over the past generation--blame in part starchitecture and the backlash to postmodernism, blame in part the Prince Charles types terminally tarring the embrace of the old as reactionary fuddy-duddy, blame in part a generation conditioned more through glossy websites and skyscraper/development forums than through volumes like those illustrated above...