Toronto Waterlink at Pier 27 | 43.89m | 14s | Cityzen | a—A

Where does one draw the line? Four walls and a roof is a rip off. I think we should be satisfied to have what looks to be a stellar project without agonizing about the provenance of the design intent.

Originality is a rare commodity in any profession. I agree with Automation Gallery that we scored big time with Toronto City Hall.
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Having just returned from Amsterdam and having seen La Grande Cour in person, I can say that the two buildings have little in common. Though most would point to the cantilevered section and say: "look, he just copied that," one must remember that that is one small part of the larger complex. Where Pier 27 seems to emphasize its 'lightness,' La Grande Cour is about mass. You can see it in the dark bricks, the emphasis on wall rather than opening; solid rather than void.

Though they might look similar, they really have nothing in common.
Alsop's OCAD is another example of how floating a building horizontally can have different aesthetic results depending on design and context. In Picasso's "good artists copy, great artists steal" sense they all grab an idea and tweak it in unique ways.
But, come on, this is such a patent rip-off.

I worked for aA and played a key role in the design of this project.

What I can tell you is that this project was not on our radar, at all - this is the first time I've seen it. I began working on the project, which was strictly in massing at the time, around 2005-2006. The firm's website ( shows it as being completed around 2007. To say that the design is a patent rip-off is unfair. The massing and overall concept are completely different, not to mention the material treatment. Are all glass boxes a ripoff of Lever House?

From the massing stage, we used the CCTV building as an inspiration for the patterning on the exterior of the truss box (given that we were trying to pull off a ~20m cantilever there is a lot more structure in the truss at the point where it cantilevers out, so it was nice to express that), but eventually that yielded to structural requirements and it became a bit more regular... it was chaotic at first. How it ended up, I'm not sure (I left the office in 2007), but the guiding principles were lightness, transparency, and structural expression - which Le Grand Cour does not convey, as others have stated :)

Full disclosure: Some time in 2007, I came across a project which horrified both myself and the associate in charge... there is a project in the netherlands which is even more similar to Pier 27 than the one you have shown. It is a 3-storey truss box which sits on top of another building... I tried to find it with google image search but failed :( When I first found it, my jaw dropped and I thought "awwww crap. how is this possible?!" But what can you do? The bottom line is, it's *incredibly* hard to come up with something "original" - we truly thought we had (I would still argue that aA has), but inevitably you find out someone has beaten you to it, or you find similar pieces in other buildings. That's par for the course in a creative field, but as an observer you should try to keep in mind the all-important science mantra: "Correlation does not equal causation" :)
Great post, guitarchitect, thanks for sharing with us! I hope you are still in the industry! :)
guitarchitect - wow, thanks for the post. That really is a strong rebuttal, and an interesting comment.

I saw the CCTV building in February, and noted that it is surrounded by a two-storey high rusty metal fence that appeared to be permanent. Though the building looked OK enough, the actual experience of being beside it was pretty much like being beside a huge junkyard. I always say that you really have to see buildings in their context to judge them.

I'm certain the experience of being beside the Piers will be much more pleasant in every way imaginable.
letters went out to purchasers last week: ground breaking is slated for this summer.

Im keeping my fingers crossed on groundbreaking, i believe this is going to be one of the most interesting projects Toronto has seen in a long time. Hopefully phase-2 will contunue with the same architecture. Throw in Canada Square, design a new ferry docks, implode the Star Building and replace it with something like the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt and this neighbourhood around the foot of Yonge st. one day just might be a great euro-style area for residents and visitors to enjoy. :)
Here are some pics of the sales centre taken on Friday:





I tried to get a shot of the model from outside, but it didn't turn out very well: