Toronto Forma | 308m | 84s | Great Gulf | Gehry Partners

These buildings aren't being given a fighting chance because they have been neglected, and judgements are being made based on their ugly duckling pre-restoration phase.

Incidentally, has anyone here seen Gehry's experienced project in Seattle? It's an eyesore that resembles a twisted Pepsi can. And the north elevation of the AGO can only be appreciated from within and from the air, several blocks away. From Dundas street one experiences it as a large shell clad in steamed and dirty glass with an overall form that is largely inscrutable.
 
In general, as much as I hate loosing the theatre, I look at it this way, wer're loosing something good, for something great! This happened when FCP was first proposed. It meant demolishing a landmark tower at the time, the Toronto Star tower, but once FCP was built, most of those opposed to it loved the new tower, I'm hoping, if approved, the same will happen with the Gehry towers.
 
If this project is given exception with heritage designations swept aside and 1/2 a block of good buildings razed, then in principal Mirvish should first build the public amenity and only then be given the go-ahead to build the towers. Impossible of course because the galleries will be built on top of the condo parking and the lobby will probably be in the middle of the whole sweeping ensemble.
 
We don't really build here where the city has the permit in one hand and the developer has the keys to the public benefit in theirs, each trying to grab the other's possession with their free hand before it's yanked away from them. These projects are accomplished by grown ups and their lawyers, not kids.

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I look at it this way, wer're loosing something good, for something great!

Heritage issues aside I'm not convinced that this project will be so great. It could end up looking more like an amusement park than an urban street. Something very interesting could result if Gehry went wild within the context of the 3 best buildings - the Anderson Building and the 2 buildings book-ending the site. However the scale of this proposal makes this impossible.

I've visited quite a few Gehry buildings and though they are in some ways interesting most of them are quite clumsy and actually quite ugly. The obvious exception is Bilbao which is sublime.
 
In general, as much as I hate loosing the theatre, I look at it this way, wer're loosing something good, for something great! This happened when FCP was first proposed. It meant demolishing a landmark tower at the time, the Toronto Star tower, but once FCP was built, most of those opposed to it loved the new tower.

Uh, actually, not. Of all the downtown 60s70scrapers, FCP was the most loathed, not loved. 70 storeys of marble-clad Edward Durell Stone kitsch, etc.

And furthermore, the Star and everything else on the block were demolished right when Toronto's preservation movement started getting into high gear (the Inventory of Heritage Properties having started in 1973)--together with the net effect of the Crombie mayoralty and the incipient postmodern reaction, FCP couldn't have come out of it all looking more clashingly retrograde and needlessly destructive in context.

Trust me.
 
We don't really build here where the city has the permit in one hand and the developer has the keys to the public benefit in theirs, each trying to grab the other's possession with their free hand before it's yanked away from them. These projects are accomplished by grown ups and their lawyers, not kids.

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Kids they are not, but do you truly believe developers and their lawyers can be relied upon to carry through on their word with the best intentions? If only you were right. Bait and switch happens all the time. With Westside lofts Urbancorp(se) literally used Will Alsop to get their rezoning through and then rejigged the entire project as a generic condo - sans public amenity space. And hardly anybody noticed. It was supposed to look like this:
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But it actually ended up like this:
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To read about how many people were suckered into believing their efforts were actually going to have an impact and that the developer had the best intentions read this:
http://www.westsidelofts.ca/westside2.pdf

Anyone who is not jaded is not paying attention.
 

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I am very pro heritage...but I'm not a heritage fundamentalist, and I think there is a very big difference.

Actually (and maybe this is what I meant by "straight"), one thing I find about you is that your form of "pro heritage" is extremely, shall I say, "establishment". Something that inclines more t/w "corporate heritage", the coffee-table universe of impeccably "correct" restorations and ultra-refined building canons to impress the executive and professional class (not that Paul Oberman was *bad* or anything;-)). But when it comes to the unruly, dynamic, pulsating grassroots of the scope of 2012-style heritage consciousness, you have a tin ear--perhaps, for all I know, because you've hurting from having been in the past cross-hairs of said grassroots.

Indeed, there's a bit of a history of clashes between the "corporates" and the "unruly grassroots" in heritage planning and activism in Toronto--some of that even underlies the controversial post-Megacity "reform" of preservation operations in Toronto, in steering it away from an advocacy role, etc. And to take one example, the battle over the Riverdale Hospital half-round was truly an definitive, epic corporates-vs-grassroots case--look at it this way: if you'd still, today, advocate the half-round's demolition absolutely and without compunction, said grassroots would look at you kinda funny like you're a Monsanto apologist or something...
 
Anyone who is not jaded is not paying attention.

There's jaded, and then there's realistic in this case. What happened at Westside Gallery Lofts was low, but that was also a reasonably low-profile project. No project will be under more scrutiny than this one. David Mirvish is a public figure and wants a legacy project, and Frank Gehry is the world's most famous architect. There's also the front-and-centre location here to consider too. Bait and switch will not go unnoticed here.

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And what if this project falls victim to a market downturn? This is an exciting proposal, but it's just a proposal and it's in the hands of private development interests and there is no guarantee of the outcome. The block could be leveled and another developer could take over if anything goes awry.

I was just saying to myself that this debate was lacking sufficient fear mongering tactics.


For all of the critics of these 'warehouses', they are no different from the celebrated 'warehouses' on King west of Spadina that Allied restored and converted.

I think there is a difference. And it's not because I can't see the potential in the Mirvish buildings. It's not all about which ones have more handsome edwardian curb appeal. This isn't King west of Bathurst...it's King between University and John, which is different context.

Look....the Mirvish block could indeed be given an extensive and expensive Allied style big money remake and do just fine. It could just stay the way it is and it wouldn't be the end of the world...it would just be very drab. There's enough space in these buildings to house a new Mirvish Gallery, as well as the OCAD facilities.

But I don't think David Mirvish is looking to do just "fine". It's pretty obvious that he has decided it's time to create his "legacy"...and he's looking to go big. David Mirvish isn't really about real estate development....he's not really about discount stores and restaurants. He's not even really all about theatre. First and foremost, he's about art....always has been.

I think David said it best himself...

In order to fulfill this vision, all the buildings to the west of the Royal Alex will be replaced with Gehry's new architecture.

But after careful consideration and many different plans, I decided not giving Gehry a full canvas on which to work would have meant compromises that would have lessened the power of the project.

There were choices to be made, and these are choices he made. And they are his to make. David Mirvish is also the kind of guy who's track record in the arts provides a level of confidence that he will come through for the city in his legacy.

Don't be a fool Toronto....this is not the gift horse to be looking in the mouth.
 
I must disagree with adma that heritage preservation is an issue that mostly women and gay men take an interest in. There does not seem to be any logical connection between gender or sexual orientation and heritage preservation and to make such demarcations is needlessly constrictive. Being straight, and having met many people connected with heritage preservation be it as activists, administrative professionals, archivists, skilled tradespeople, and local history groups, it seems like cross-section of the population--with fewer recent immigrants perhaps because of a lack of cultural familiarity.
 

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