Westbank Corp’s Mirvish Village redevelopment, now under construction at the former Honest Ed’s site in Downtown Toronto, has been largely praised for the way it approached the planning process. Because the site was special to so many Torontonians, community consultations and design refinements continued for almost two years before reaching the development plan's final version. Residents wanted a worthy successor to the fine-grained retail and unique streetscape environment that Honest Ed’s and the adjacent Mirvish Village previously embodied. As construction on the development progresses, Westbank is now starting to give us a better idea as to what's in store for the public realm.

Westbank founder Ian Gillespie announces Frank Stella project, image from the UrbanToronto Forum.

Last night at a Westbank event for another of their projects—KING Toronto—it was revealed that world-renowned artist Frank Stella has been commissioned to design a number of public art pieces to bring life to the neighbourhood. Stella has worked with the Mirvishes in the past, designing the entire decorative scheme for the Princess of Wales Theatre, making him a fitting choice for the job.

Inspiration for the project, Stella says, was drawn from a piece of his previous work; Damascus Gate, a 50 foot painting that was displayed in David Mirvish Books—one of the Mirvish Village’s most popular businesses—for 35 years. The painting, part of Stella’s Protractor Series that focuses on angles, curves and fluorescent colours, first premiered at the opening show of the Mirvish Gallery in 1963 and was later displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, before retiring to the independent bookstore until its closure in 2009.

The original Damascus Gate painting, image courtesy of artbasel.com.

Mirvish Village will have a number of Stella-designed sculptures that, like the original painting, will use a combination of abstract geometric shapes and bright fluorescent colours. The sculptures offer a more modern take on the original painting’s concept, similar to how the redeveloped Mirvish Village will modernize the traits of its previous iteration.

Westbank founder Ian Gillespie announces Frank Stella project, image from the UrbanToronto Forum.

Stay tuned, we will keep you updated as the construction and formation of this unique site progress over the next few years. You will find several more images of what's coming in our database file for the project, linked below. You can get in on the conversation by visiting the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

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