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Transformation AGO (5s, Gehry)

MetroMan

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Had they been on the south side, I'm sure the AGO would have buried the wires themselves as part of the makeover.
 

wyliepoon

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I am not sure how long this current Chinatown is going to last - there is a significant number of stores closed between AGO and Spadina.
I was thinking of the couple of Chinese arts and crafts stores along Dundas and Spadina that cater specifically to tourists. It might be better if they could be moved closer to the AGO.

Even the old jade hawker I see all the time outside the HSBC at Chinatown Centre would do more business if he's located closer to the AGO!
 

adma

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There is absolutely no connection between the Spadina Expressway and a vision for a plaza in front of the AGO..:confused:....we need more public spaces, I don't think Jane Jacobs would disapprove of a public plaza here;the site north of the AGO would be ideal, imo.....I'm with Fiendish on this one...
Given what's at stake here, if you don't think she'd disapprove, you're truly naive. The "public spaces" that matter are the streets, the sidewalks, and the retail activity, real and potential.

Oh, and Grange Park. Which seems to be overlooked in this thread of discussion. (As is Butterfield Park beneath OCAD, and its yet-unresolved connection to Grange Park.)

To her, a public plaza north of AGO would be exactly the kind of Moses-esque forced issue she made a specialty of opposing.

And also...would you be suggesting the entire block be razed, or just the centre portion? Remember that the houses (now City housing) fronting Beverley form part of a cohesive one-block "yellow brick" ensemble together with the Italian Embassy, etc, built at more or less the same time. Wreck them, and you wreck the sense of architectural ensemble along Beverley. Keep them, and their backsides/backwards awkwardly face the public plaza, which leaves one wondering...why even have a plaza here?

Finally...those seemingly high-class tourists and visitors who're plum disgusted by the hemmed-in grittiness/grottiness around AGO? Just view them as pompous pricks. Look: this is Gehry's Toronto, still as sloppily slovenly delightfully gefilte as it comes, long after Spadina's Jewish retail largely fled for parts beyond...
 

MetroMan

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Well said adma.


What I could see potentially happening is that once Transformation AGO is finished, not reintroducing parking along Dundas. The sidewalk on the AGO side is fine as it is. It's actually quite wide. Reproduce that on the north side.

Widen the sidewalk to allow for trees to be planted along that stretch and encourage restaurants with patios to locate in those houses.

This could be a very special place if allowed to develop on its own with a little nudge from the city with regards to sidewalks, wires and landscaping.

Getting back to the comparison of the "Painted Ladies" in San Francisco, I always wondered why those houses became so famous...



... now I know why. Wow... check out the skyline behind those babies.
 

Towered

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I don't think it's the row of Victorian houses on the north side that are the problem - their architecture is beautiful and charming, and they contrast wonderfully with the new AGO. That strip will be an asset once more interesting retail settles in - just think of the one on King street that everybody loves here, across from the future Festival Tower/Lightbox project. In my opinion the real ugliness lies to the west of the AGO, but I wouldn't advocate demolition. The AGO's influence, combined with the decline of Chinatown, will likely take care of that through regular market forces.
 

ProjectEnd

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Thanks for the backup Aadma...I was revving up for a pretty monumental post - quotes, diagrams, etc. - when I read yours and thought: "wow, at least someone gets it here."

Perhaps a simplification may help: she would be against it; very against it.
 

MetroMan

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I don't think it's the row of Victorian houses on the north side that are the problem - their architecture is beautiful and charming, and they contrast wonderfully with the new AGO. That strip will be an asset once more interesting retail settles in - just think of the one on King street that everybody loves here, across from the future Festival Tower/Lightbox project. In my opinion the real ugliness lies to the west of the AGO, but I wouldn't advocate demolition. The AGO's influence, combined with the decline of Chinatown, will likely take care of that through regular market forces.
That's so true. Those houses are going to look gorgeous across from TIFF. A new restaurant just opened this week there. They're the perfect model to follow for those across from the AGO.

If the city wants to help, they should announce a pre-approval of the houses on that block for restaurant licenses. You'd see how fast investors would flock over.
 

adma

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One thing re Chinatown to remember is that whatever retail energy there is dissipates the further you get from Spadina; so there's an argument for market forces the closer you get to AGO...
 

yyzer

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Finally...those seemingly high-class tourists and visitors who're plum disgusted by the hemmed-in grittiness/grottiness around AGO? Just view them as pompous pricks. Look: this is Gehry's Toronto, still as sloppily slovenly delightfully gefilte as it comes, long after Spadina's Jewish retail largely fled for parts beyond...
o.k., o.k., LOL, it was just a suggestion, just thinking out loud....

sheesh...:rolleyes:
 

Tewder

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I really don't think a public square in front of the AGO is the answer, these public piazzas function 'okay' in Toronto in warmer months but can really kill the vitality of the street the rest of the year, but an upgraded and well-maintained streetscape is definately the way to go. Like Adma I also think it would be a huge mistake to destroy the 'second empire' row which is architecturally significant, and which has enormous potential - far more potential than a piazza, imo - to add some life to Dundas with cafes, boutiques and galleries etc.

As for the whole messy urbanism debate I simply cannot believe that such a dogmatic approach to urban planning gets any serious consideration around here:

I think the AGO will achieve the necessary fame/notoriety... precisely because it has had a loving make-over by a world-famous local boy... and it sits in a "suprising", less than grand neighourhood without "attention! major attraction" type warning or context.

Most "famous" iconic structures disappoint in person (not the Taj) because of their inflated advanced PR. Imagine finding the new AGO after dim sum...
...so you are advocating that we keep the bar low so that anything would look good in comparison?

I think the reason I disagree is because part of what makes Toronto interesting to the eye is that it is scattered and messy. Something new and important will be right beside something old and maybe dirty. Although each building that is like that by itself seems bad, it creates an overall effect that is interesting and inspiring to me. I grew up in this city and that look is what I have come to associate with it.
If we just steamroll all the older buildings that aren't new and flashy and push all the tenants out then i fear Toronto could end up looking very stale.
If you do it once then you set a precedent to do it over and over.
Where do you draw the line? Do those asphalt patches and gum stains add to your nostalgia too? How about graffiti and postering? Would this be acceptable to you along University Avenue and Queen's Park, or at the Distillery? Not all of Toronto is 'scattered and messy', and some better maintained areas of the city still manage to preserve their character and sense of place. Besides, It's also a matter of context, and that maybe what is appropriate for the more neighbourhoody parts of the city isn't so for the central downtown areas. Maybe the stretch of Dundas in front of the province's leading museum is worthy of a little better than the current state of abject neglect that exists?

Finally...those seemingly high-class tourists and visitors who're plum disgusted by the hemmed-in grittiness/grottiness around AGO? Just view them as pompous pricks. Look: this is Gehry's Toronto, still as sloppily slovenly delightfully gefilte as it comes, long after Spadina's Jewish retail largely fled for parts beyond...
Heck, why not do away with paved roads altogether if you're looking for the authenticity of dear ol' Hogtown? ...the pompous pricks are the middle-class, self-important pseudo-boho types who like to go slumming through urban grit, 'off the beaten track', because it makes them feel cool and edgy.
 

syn

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Anothing thing that would bug me about a public square in front of the AGO is that Gehry was forced to design a building that could fit well into it's current context. If they were going to put a public square in front of it he would've had some more interesting options.
 

ladyscraper

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Where do you draw the line? Do those asphalt patches and gum stains add to your nostalgia too? How about graffiti and postering? Would this be acceptable to you along University Avenue and Queen's Park, or at the Distillery? Not all of Toronto is 'scattered and messy', and some better maintained areas of the city still manage to preserve their character and sense of place.
We aren't talking about Queen's Park or the Distillery. We are talking about a part of a street that already looks this way that has been suggested to be destroyed in favor of presenting a cleaner image near the art gallery. That is what i was objecting to. I agree with you that there are areas that keep their sense of place that are well maintained, but I never suggested otherwise.

About graffiti and postering, yeah that is fine. Most healthy cities have that. It means things are going on.
 

jn_12

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can someone explain to me why we need a public square across the street from the AGO when Grange Park is ripe for the picking? Is it necessary to have two large public spaces on either side of the AGO?

Adma said:
Finally...those seemingly high-class tourists and visitors who're plum disgusted by the hemmed-in grittiness/grottiness around AGO? Just view them as pompous pricks. Look: this is Gehry's Toronto, still as sloppily slovenly delightfully gefilte as it comes, long after Spadina's Jewish retail largely fled for parts beyond...
Some people still don't get it. The AGO is a destination. It will be visited by people from around the world. Most of these people aren't high-class tourists (They have Greek islands and Provencal beaches to spend their dough on), but rather working and middle class folk. They will be the ones telling their friends about the time they spent in the city, and word of mouth does help. There's nothing wrong with a city being gritty, but come on, this will be one of the city's major tourist destination. Let's at least give its surroundings, and the people who WANT to spend their hard earned money in Toronto something they deserve. If they want grit send them to Kensington.

Here's a question: can you show me another top quality tourist destination anywhere that exists within such ratty surroundings? Off the top of my head, I'm having trouble. Now I'm not saying tear everything down, but that stretch of Dundas needs to be spruced up a bit. It would be a shame to keep things the way they are, in the presence of such a building.
 

urbanvillageboy

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can someone explain to me why we need a public square across the street from the AGO when Grange Park is ripe for the picking? Is it necessary to have two large public spaces on either side of the AGO?



Some people still don't get it. The AGO is a destination. It will be visited by people from around the world. Most of these people aren't high-class tourists (They have Greek islands and Provencal beaches to spend their dough on), but rather working and middle class folk. They will be the ones telling their friends about the time they spent in the city, and word of mouth does help. There's nothing wrong with a city being gritty, but come on, this will be one of the city's major tourist destination. Let's at least give its surroundings, and the people who WANT to spend their hard earned money in Toronto something they deserve. If they want grit send them to Kensington.

Here's a question: can you show me another top quality tourist destination anywhere that exists within such ratty surroundings? Off the top of my head, I'm having trouble. Now I'm not saying tear everything down, but that stretch of Dundas needs to be spruced up a bit. It would be a shame to keep things the way they are, in the presence of such a building.
I'm with you, man. This "isn't grittiness wonderful" thing is an excuse for aesthetic laziness and resistance to change that is just so prevalent in this city. We still don't get what it takes to be a truly metropolitan centre with a sense of real style. Frumpiness is glorified while expecting beauty in your surroundings is considered "pompous." I think that we should expect more especially on our main streets and around our major cultural centres including the AGO. A district plan for the blocks around the AGO would be a great idea. Thankfully the city is starting to recognize the importance of this sort of thing with, for example, plans to improve Jarvis Street and Allan Gardens. My ultimate dream is to stop cringing when I see tour buses making their way up Yonge St. above Dundas.
 

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