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Yonge-Dundas Square (Brown + Storey Architects)

MetroMan

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So much change is happening around Yonge-Dundas Square, including in the square itself, that I find that we need a unified thread. UrbanToronto did follow the construction of the square way back in 2000 but it appears to have been lost in one of the early forum moves.

I have quite a lot of content from its construction and I'll update this initial post with it in an attempt at recreating — at least partially — that historical record.

E46-YDSquare-Legend-04.jpg
 

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MetroMan

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People have often complained that Toronto's main commercial square is subpar, and a lot of that criticism comes from the low quality advertising that falls behind what you'd see in Times Square or Tokyo's Shibuya district. That has begun to change with the Eaton Centre's massive twin vertical LED screens.

Video signage continues to go up around the square. Shoppers Drug Mart's takeover of the Hard Rock Cafe has added Canada's largest digital sign.

Under construction last week:
img_0170-jpg.110761


Testing:
image-jpg.110787


First campaign:
DBkp2dkXoAAga0M.jpg:large
DBkp5WEXsAAun4W.jpg:large

Photos: Warner Bros. Pictures Twitter.
 
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Torontovibe

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Are they not going to fill in that gap at the bottom? I hate how so many of the Dundas Square signs seem to be unfinished, like the huge signs on the Eaton Centre and the ones on the Atrium. You don't see that kind thing on Times Square signs.

Check out the edges on the Eaton Centre video signs. You can clearly see pieces of wood and metal, that should be covered with a border. And why is there a huge gap at the top? I figured another sign would go in there but so far, it's just left blank.

The sign tower on Atrium is the worst! All that internal clutter does not have to be exposed to the public when it can be cheaply and attractively covered.
 

Bogtrotter

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People have often complained that Toronto's main commercial square is subpar, and a lot of that criticism comes from the low quality advertising that falls behind what you'd see in Times Square or Tokyo's Shibuya district. That has begun to change with the Eaton Centre's massive twin vertical LED screens.

The new screens are certainly an upgrade, but without doing something a little more unique with the surrounding space it will always be considered a tepid version of Times Square. I've always quite liked the square itself however.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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The new screens are certainly an upgrade, but without doing something a little more unique with the surrounding space it will always be considered a tepid version of Times Square. I've always quite liked the square itself however.

It need a lot more - there should be an integrated scheme for the surrounding streets - and not treating the square as an isolated space in and on its' own. That mean unified surface treatment, fixtures, lighting. landscaping. They should also look into the possibility of structural modifications to the square itself - particularly the canopies and minimizing the barriers at the perimeter of the square by gradually changing the grade, if possible.

Additional screens on the square. Pffft. That stuff is for making money, not placemaking. Let's not pretend that's done in anyone's favour but that of the proponent.

FYI - details on the original competition scheme:

http://www.ccc.umontreal.ca/fiche_laureat.php?lang=en&pId=2274

Pay particular attention to how light the original columns are, instead of these clumsy, girthy ones that look as if they are designed to hold up the Gardiner, now completely out of proportion with the roof. And how they are adding more sh*t to the ensemble with all the charm of a Grade B mall from the 90s, because things aren't messy enough and need some zig-zag to add some spice. Good grief.

AoD
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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Also, compare and contrast how Snøhetta reworked Times Square (supposedly our inspiration) in NYC - certainly not by adding more stupid screens.

http://snohetta.com/project/9-times-square-reconstruction

In fact, one can argue the BSA proposal, however reduced due to VE and programmatic conflicts - was ahead of its time in terms of design.

AoD
 

jje1000

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I'd argue that billboards can be a placemaking tool- as an element of visual spectacle and overload- places like Times Square wouldn't be the same without its billboards as would Hong Kong be without its neon advertisements.

If we want to pivot Yonge Dundas away from being a Times Square-lite, the question then needs to be raised about what kind of character Yonge-Dundas Square wants to be.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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I'd argue that billboards can be a placemaking tool- as an element of visual spectacle and overload- places like Times Square wouldn't be the same without its billboards as would Hong Kong be without its neon advertisements.

If we want to pivot Yonge Dundas away from being a Times Square-lite, the question then needs to be raised about what kind of character Yonge-Dundas Square wants to be.

Sure, did any of those examples have to slap it on a public square because the private sector couldn't provide enough on their own - and when they do so, had to resort to media towers built specifically for the job? You'd be laughed out of those cities. I don't think one has to pivot in order to point out what clearly isn't - local boosters might differ. As it stands now the experience is distinctly inauthentic.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Actually I was referring more to billboards being placed on the buildings around the square, not on the square itself.
 

Contra

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The Hard Rock building looks IMMEDIATELY nicer without the signage over the Yonge st entrance. Hopefully Shoppers goes simple with their signage, akin to how Rexall has been doing it in some places of late.
 

Johnny Au

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It's too late for Toronto to implement a billboard ban like in São Paulo.

Perhaps Toronto can get some more tourist trap attractions around Yonge-Dundas Square, just like the area around Times Square.

Examples could include Nintendo Toronto (though Nintendo New York is a few blocks northeast of Times Square).
 

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