London On The Esplanade Condos | 102m | 33s | Cityzen | Burka

Granny

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I'm sympathetic to your argument, Urban, but I disagree with you.
Truly, the St. Lawrence Centre is a classic 60s/70s example of Brutalist Modern. A exceptionally poor example, but an example of a moment in Toronto's history never the less.
There is some really crap examples of renovated Victoriana around too, and many of us will gush over them. Put lipstick on a pig, but its still gonna be a pig.
Despite its name, Brutalism was never meant to be cold, hard, uninviting and unpleasant to look at. It was meant to be exactly the opposite. Its a difficult thing to pull off with concrete. You mention the Mies Habitat. These structures have only two things in common. They both are brutalist modern and they both share a similar time frame. Habitat succeeds in its function goals. St Lawrence fails miserably.
Nobody ever talks about this place on Front Street that much. I expect nobody ever will in the future. It's truly a monument to mediocroty. Habitat on the other hand, will forever be celebrated for it's excellance in design.
They are happily teariing down poor examples of brutalism in many cities in Europe. I really doubt there would be too many outraged people wailing over a similar fate for the St. Lawrence Centre.
What I tuly love about the design of this condo is the way it has managed to make this building look less obtrusive, less cold, less uninviting. With the exception of the narrow alleyway between them it seems to almost pull it together with its own podium/base. It's actually complimentary. Look again Urban. What we have here, is truly rare in this city.:)
 

egotrippin

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I'm not the biggest fan of brutalist buildings to start, but the St. Lawrence Centre is especially garish; using that for context would've resulted in one awful condo tower. To say that The St. Lawrence Centre and Sony Centre create the architectural context of the neighbourhood is a pretty ridiculous statement, considering almost all of that neighbourhood is brick midrise development. In fact, apart from the two mentioned examples, I can't think of any brutalist or even modernist buildings in the immediate vicinity.
 

interchange42

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What ch'all talkin' 'bout?

The east tower's red brick is sensitive to the context to the east (skipping over the now insignificant Spaghetti Factory), and the west side of the stone-clad podium addresses the O'Keefe/Hummingbird/Sony Centre to its west.

The building attempts a conversation with at least some of its neighbours and it succeeds to a reasonable degree, which in this town is reason enough to raise a glass. I doubt LondonOTE will end up a classic of any kind, but neither will it be a sore thumb.

42
 

Tewder

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The comments about the St. Lawrence Centre and "some obnoxious and derivative neo-brutalist pile of concrete" serve to illustrate what happens when people who can't see beyond the fashionable/unfashionable cycle pass judgement.
I'm not advocating the destruction of existing brutalist structures, even if I do not like them or appreciate them enough yet, but recreating brutalism here or anywhere would simply be derivative, no matter how iconoclastic one imagines himself to be in defending a style not in fashion, which is about as maverick as...

 

Granny

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I'm not advocating the destruction of existing brutalist structures, even if I do not like them or appreciate them enough yet, but recreating brutalism here or anywhere would simply be derivative, no matter how iconoclastic one imagines himself to be in defending a style not in fashion, which is about as maverick as...

"Yahoo! Thars ducks in the pool again!!!!"
 

Granny

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Attributing Habitat to Mies is just the most egregious of your amateur's argument's pitfalls...
Oh dear.. Please forgive this amateur's sloppy writing.
I have an excuse, a miserable amatuerish one, but an excuse never the less.
I had just erased a sentence regarding Le Corbusie and Mies van der Rohe and something to the effect that they would have laughed and shook their heads if they had seen this structure, but had decided it was a tad harsh and maybe a little out of..context:D. I guess 'Mies' was still on my fingertips so to speak as I continued to type.
My sincerest apolgies to you,.. oh..and Moshe Sadfie.....and Mies...and also to all the other outraged 'professional' architecture critics out there who I may have offended.
This is one repentent amateur who will try to be more careful in the future.:eek:
 

Urban Shocker

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Granny: Following up on adma's comment, your claim that brutalism is "a difficult thing to pull off with concrete" suggests that you're unaware of the origins of the style, linked to the term beton brut.

The St. Lawrence Centre has been a popular performance venue for almost 40 years, has good acoustics and sightlines, and has just undergone major exterior and interior renovations to see it through the next decades. Your claims that "I really doubt there would be too many outraged people wailing" if the building were to be demolished and that it "fails miserably" in its function aren't born out by the facts. People do indeed speak highly of the place on Front - performers and audiences alike - and it works, and has been refurbished for our continued enjoyment.

Tewder appears to triangulate better than the Clintons, depending on which way the wind is blowing. One day he'll say of Teeple's Gansevoort, which riffs on 1967's Habitat, "This is so refreshing for Toronto. Bring it on!" and the next it has become "some obnoxious and derivative neo-brutalist pile of concrete" when the perfectly reasonable suggestion is made that a more imaginative solution to building on this site, where the only two significant adjacent buildings are from 1960 and 1970, might have been something along those lines.
 

Granny

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Urban..
Nope.
"your claim that brutalism is "a difficult thing to pull off with concrete"

Not quite the way I said it, or perhaps I should say not quite the way it meant for it to be interpreted.

Read again..

"Despite its name, Brutalism was never meant to be cold, hard, uninviting and unpleasant to look at. It was meant to be exactly the opposite. Its a difficult thing to pull off with concrete. "

Give you a smile with the following hopefully. Lets try it this way. (and try to lighten up by the way)

Hell. You, me, a cement truck, a few skids of concrete blocks, and armed with some trowels and lots of alcohol. We could get together and attack a Don Mills corner lot bungalow on a Saturday afternoon. On the street side we accidently covered the windows. Now we have this HUGE honkin wall for everyone to stare at. No problem. We stick up a giant advertisement billboard to distract anyone from noticing just how freakin huge and imposing this wall is.
At the end of the day, and our work is done we could stand back at the curb and say "Voila!"

I doubt the unimpressed neighbors would think we had created anything very pleasant or inviting. Can't really blame them can you? I don't know about you, but I'm just an amateur (and a egregious one at that) at designing and building with this concrete stuff. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll take the blame for working on the wall side.

And guess what. The inside of that house has a great open space, flow,...comfy large rooms, updated ergonomics and modern features, incredible sound system and acoustics...And..any guest that ever enters it..raves about the great time they had there..

Oops.. Did I possibly just describe the The St. Lawrence?
 

Tewder

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Tewder appears to triangulate better than the Clintons, depending on which way the wind is blowing. One day he'll say of Teeple's Gansevoort, which riffs on 1967's Habitat, "This is so refreshing for Toronto. Bring it on!" and the next it has become "some obnoxious and derivative neo-brutalist pile of concrete" when the perfectly reasonable suggestion is made that a more imaginative solution to building on this site, where the only two significant adjacent buildings are from 1960 and 1970, might have been something along those lines.
Thankfully Toronto is a city that can boast both Ganesvoort and London On the Esplanade. I like them both, Clinton-esque triangulations notwithstanding. As for a more 'imaginative' solution to the London site, why should that be wished for when what is emerging is so pleasing and so appropriate? Not everyone on stage can play the lead, and in this setting the O'Keefe Centre does so quite nicely, with London bowing down to her most gracefully. This is in fact quite an imaginative approach.
 

Urban Shocker

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I can see how we may boast about the former - if it gets built - because Gansevoort will be a unique building by a local A-list architect. Teeple's main conceit is to turn Habitat on its side, though I have doubts that it is as modular ( will residents be able to buy adjacent units and combine them, as in Habitat? ) as it purports to be, and it obviously loses quite a bit ( Habitat's exterior pedestrian streets, for instance ) in translation.

In some ways it and Habitat are rather reactionary - Safdie's attempt to create a "sense of house" is a denial of the anonymity that large apartment buildings in cities offer. Being able to point out the bit of Gansevoort that you live in, from the street below, may give a "sense of house" but so what really? Still, you can only do this first once, and Gansevoort will be it. I think it's an aesthetic statement more than anything functionally different.

Boasting about London on the Esplanade? To whom, and on what basis? A B-list building by a B-list architect. Nothing more.
 

adma

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What, really, is so nasty and cloddish and fatally nth-rate about the St Lawrence Centre, anyway? It's actually *more* discreet and deferential to its urban context--and yes, un-brutal--than the style's reputation might lead one to expect. Heck, if one seeks to bash it, you might as well bash O'Keefe/Hummingbird/Sony/L for being post-Festival Of Britain overwrought Cold War Modern wimpitude, as well.

That said, even if it's settled into being a nice venue for assorted productions and public lectures and debates and the like, I'll admit the place had a rocky and compromised start as a watered-down and belated Centennial project, and has been through various internal fine-tunings through the years--yet incredibly, said fine-tunings have never involved altering the exterior aspect beyond recognition, overhangs, projections, flying fly towers and all. It's as circa 1970 mini-Brutal as ever; and the miniature scale actually renders it kind of sweet, perhaps a little goofy as a neighbour to the row of shops on Front, but hardly unendearing. If it's been untransformed for this long, it's earned its right to be respected hereforth, IMO.

Then again, I *can* understand the kneejerk reaction to US embracing O'Keefe and StLC at the expense of much else that's older, never mind the Old Spaghetti Factory. Look: little's been mentioned of the Gooderham Building, or the row of shops on Front (including Toronto's last remaining cast-iron commercial fronts, or even the more physically substantial (and perhaps themselves endangered) brick warehouse neighbours to the OSF along the Esplanade. Are these all mere devoid-of-merit throwaways?

Why, indeed, must one embrace one while rejecting the other?
 

ganjavih

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Why, indeed, must one embrace one while rejecting the other?
Well, I guess it's a matter of personal preference. Personally, I prefer this:



to this:



I am not advocating the demolition of all brutalism across the city. In fact, there's a certain appeal in the deliberate ugliness of a lot of it. They are unique curiosities. There's a comfort in knowing that these buildings were built at a time when priorities and values were somewhat different than what we have now. They are from a time that has come and gone and there's no need to revisit that era. They were an experiment that worked at some levels but failed at others and we've learned a lot since then. It wouldn't make sense to revive brutalism. They had an excuse back then, we wouldn't.
 

adma

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Though--and this *is* where US has a point--the same might go for your first pic. I'll take real Victorian over faux Victorian anyday...
 

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