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2 The Esplanade, Toronto
Developer: Cityzen Development Group, Fernbrook Homes, Castlepoint Numa

L-Tower | 205m | 58s | Cityzen | Daniel Libeskind

Discussion in 'Buildings' started by Citywriter, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Citywriter

    Citywriter Guest

    From Catherine Nasmith's Built Heritage News:

    17. Hummingbird Centre (Okeefe): Beauty and the Beast
    [by] John Martins-Manteiga,
    curator Dominion Modern and the recent Toronto Mean City exhibit

    There is a scene in the final act of the horror film, Trilogy of Terror where a voodoo-possessed Karen Black sits, a towering figure, legs straddling, jagged teeth, Bride-of-Frankenstein hair and butcher knife in hand as she jabs again and again into the floor-boards waiting for her victim to arrive.

    On June 3, 2005 Dan Brambilla, CEO of the Hummingbird Centre presented the latest redevelopment plans on the future of the Centre to community stakeholders. In a nutshell Dan Brambilla's plans call for the addition of a condo tower on the southwest corner of the Hummingbird with additional lower storey wings projecting out north and south.

    Dan Brambilla's redevelopment dreams were in limbo until he heard architect Daniel Libeskind say, "I would love to build a condo tower in Toronto." And with those inspiring words come the latest, grandest and grotesque plans yet.

    Libeskind presented a slide show that showed the Hummingbird Centre site.

    consumed by a very tall winged shaped tower. wrapping his scheme in a talk that was confused, hurried, full of psycho-poetic babble. And then he threw in a pseudo ode to multi-culturalism, and a nod to Toronto‚s racial diversity.

    His scheme is anything and everything you want it to be. The Hummingbird will have a condo on its site, and be an "entry point" where tourists will be debriefed and treated to a "world class" tribute to the arts, racial diversity and multiculturalism, while at the same time fight against discrimination and racism. The new entrance on Yonge Street will be shaped (I kid you not) like a globe welcoming the world into its womb.

    Dan Brambilla envisions a cultural centre "on the amusement level of Disneyland."

    When I sat listening to Liebeskind and viewing his graphic presentation, all I could think of was Karen Black, engulfing her victim, cannibalising and consuming it. I saw Dickinson‚s masterwork destroyed and devoured by Liebeskind‚s condo tower hovering maniacally over the Hummingbird like some vulture, wings straddling and suffocating it. If the plan is to build a tower that is out of proportion, out of joint andhas no business being on the same site, fine. But be honest enough to say that. Please don't drag every politically correct cliche on board to pad your argument to put a condo on the site.

    When is it going to be okay to leave one of our treasured buildings alone? When are we going to say enough already? My advice to Dan Brambilla is build your condo somewhere else and restore the Hummingbird. If you are found with a budget shortfall, find new acts or performers to fill that shortfall. The Hummingbird is ours. It was a gift from E.P. Taylor to the citizens of Toronto. It belongs to us, with all its grace and beauty. If he does this, future generations will remember him for that, for having the courage and vision to be the caretaker of this modern jewel.

    If this city is serious about preserving mid 20th century architecture then here's what should happen:

    ·-Restore the Hummingbird, this is architect Peter Dickinson's masterpiece!

    ·-Restore white marble proscenium walls that framed the lobby and obscured the escalators removed by misguided renovators who wanted to "fix" what they perceived as mistakes.

    ·-Restore the interior. Restore the vaulted ceiling. Remove the barrage of signs that take away form the architect’s original vision.

    ·-Maintain and restore the Hummingbird Centre's original site plan and landscaping.

    ·-Restore the Centre's original name. This after all was a gift to the city by E.P. Taylor and OKeefe Breweries.
    J T CUNNINGHAM likes this.

  2. ... and then what? Invite the COC and the National Ballet to come back?
  3. Mike in TO

    Mike in TO Guest

    ... and with what money?
  4. bizorky

    bizorky Guest

    money, MONEY!! Why, I see Karen Black coming to engulf you in psycho-babble, you anti-preservationist wretch. Why, I want things to be the same...not like the same as in now...but the same as in when things were better in the past and not in need of improvement as now. I want marble and money and a pseudo-ode to the past when you had to line up for liquor and drink it behind a curtain. These...these...architects and their new ideas...pshaw!
    J T CUNNINGHAM likes this.
  5. adma

    adma Guest

    I don't mind the cause on behalf of Hummingbird, generically speaking. But somehow, the way this comes off reminds me of the Canadian music industry in "the sky is falling" mode re downloading, satellite radio, and whatever other threats on the horizon. Yeah, yeah. Rah-rah, Tom Cochrane. Rah-rah, Tragically Hip...
    J T CUNNINGHAM likes this.
  6. GeekyBoyTO

    GeekyBoyTO Guest

    That's rather presumptious. "The Hummingbird is ours"?! "it belong to us"?! Since when did "ours" and "us" made up of only those who'd want nothing but 100% preservation?

    I am generally sympathic to Nasmith and her attention towards various preservation causes, but in this case, it passed off as nothing more than an obnoxious piece of fan mail.

  7. Junglab2002

    Junglab2002 Guest

    The imagery is violent, aggressive, bloodthirsty - no doubt she honestly feels herself and her ideals to be in imminent danger of just such a fate. In any case, the article represents exactly what someone in such a tizzy would produce - a retreat into a suffocating, womb-like certainty, the familiar as a safety blanket against the evil forces of Libeskind and his bevy of slasher-blade wielding revolutionaries.

    Really, I have yet to see the plans, and as a great fan of the Hummingbird I have to say I'm more than a bit concerned, but there are more constructive things to do than write as if the sky will fall unless every last vestige in not only preserved, but reborn and reconstructed in the view that ANY intervention since the initial construction is like some sort of sucking chest wound.
  8. adma

    adma Guest

    She didn't write it. She just "presented" it. Note the attribution...

    I doubt Cathy Nasmith's posting this as anything more than a contributor's op-ed piece...
    J T CUNNINGHAM likes this.
  9. GeekyBoyTO

    GeekyBoyTO Guest


    Thanks for pointing that out - nice to know that she didn't wrote that particularly vicious piece.

  10. tudararms

    tudararms Guest

    This article may be a little 'intense' but a least there's some passion here which is not a bad thing. Arguing passionately to save the integrity of a very important building is not a bad thing either. Personally I like the idea of a highrise at this location, with the proviso that the Hummingbird is sufficiently incorporated into the complex as a whole such that we are still able to appeciate what is surely the most prominent and popular example of mid-century architecture in our city. But please can we go back to its old name too!!
  11. I hope they'll save the group of mulberry trees at the north west corner of the Hummingbird Centre along Yonge Street.

    I'd noticed them for years. I expect some of you have too. When the berries ripen and fall they stain the sidewalks something awful. But the fruit is delicious.

    Last night a young man had parked his bike and was picking and eating berries there. We chatted. I joined in. My hands were pretty soon stained a deep purple. The fruit was sublime, sweet and juicy. A woman passing by commented that she had mulberry trees in her back garden too. Don't know who the guy was, but there was a sort of Adam-and-Steve-not-Adam-and-Eve-eating-the-forbidden-fruit feeling to the whole juicy, casual encounter.

    I had a plastic bag with me and took a few more handfulls home for later. They don't keep, so you have to eat 'em quickly. The stain is the devil to wash off. Don't get it on your clothes.

    I may go back for more tomorrow morning. They'll mix well with the blackcurrants, redcurrants and raspberries from my garden which I've already picked. I can make a nice multi-berry jam tomorrow afternoon.
  12. simply Dan

    simply Dan Guest

  13. Settle down Dan!

    I took the 504 Migrant Worker Special and got off at Yonge and King at 7:30 yesterday morning. I made the difficult trek to the mulberry fields, where I set to work, racing against time to pick my quota as the sun rose behind the building. I knew that if I didn't hurry the cruel orb would soon be beating down upon me with fierce intensity.

    I climbed into the Hummingbird garden, moving steadily and cautiously beneath the canopy of bushes as I set to work.

    Yes, Babel was working the undergrowth again. Just like in the '70's ... only different.

    The fruit was ripe, and practically falling off the bushes. After 30 minutes I had a nice big bag of mulberries.

    But ... Oh! No! My right hand was stained deep indigo blue. Aaaagh!! I was suffering from the dreaded "mulberry hand" and could pick no more.

    I crossed the road and went down into the BCE Place basement washroom. I tried to scrub away the dreaded mulberry scurge ... but the stain remained.

    I felt like Lady Macbeth ( but I knew I couldn't have her ).

    Later that day I made some excellent jam.

    Next year I'm gonna do it all again. But I'll pick more berries.

    And I'll wear rubber gloves.

    So, boys and girls, if you see someone lurking in the patio garden of the Hummingbird Centre early one morning this time next year, wearing latex gloves, be not afraid ... 'tis I.
  14. GeekyBoyTO

    GeekyBoyTO Guest


    So many themes at so many different levels! :rollin

  15. tudararms

    tudararms Guest

    Any further news on this project? Wasn't Liebskind supposed to be designing a tower here; has the design not been posted yet??

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