dancing with architecture: toronto

I was fortunate enough to be in Toronto recently and be able to partake of a couple evening strolls (aka death marches) in and about downtown area to absorb the sights.

Toronto is booming. Every block seems to have some sort of construction clanging and banging with office and residential towers springing forth like mushrooms after a rainstorm. There's also quite a bit of borgitecture where Modern gloms onto the past.

A quick Goog of "toronto" and "architecture" popped up the Toronto Society of Architects' page offering hosted walking tours of the city (something I wish the American Institute of Architecture and its chapters would do across the United States or, at the very least, list local significant structures). Although their page didn't include addresses, it listed names of buildings, so I was able to cobble together a quick list of sights to see (as well the randomness that came my way).

The CN (Canadian National) Tower at 1,815 feet tall dominates the skyline and was the tallest structure in the world when it was finished in 1976, a record it held until 2010.

One of the more flamboyant pieces of borgitecture I've ever seen is the Sharp Centre at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Designed by Will Alsop with Robbie/Young + Wright Architects, this whimsical addition was finished in 2004. 

Not sure what building this was, but it glommed onto the side of the old all to its right.

The Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building at the University of Toronto is neat because of these hanging pod classrooms in the atrium. There's also a coffee shop in there.

The Crystal Addition to the Royal Ontario Museum is classic borgitecture (you will be assimilated: yes, you will!!!). Designed by Daniel Libeskind and built between 2003 through 2008, this structure is somewhat controversial: people either love it or hate it. Libeskind's calling card is crystalline-spiky forms, which includes an addition to the Denver Art Museum.

Not sure who designed this building, but it "integrates" into the building in the foreground.

The Toronto Dominion Centre, built between 1963 and 1969, is a Mies van der Rohe project. This is classic Mies in that the buildings are in his standard "North American" form a la the Seagram Building. In the center is a large pavilion with the six towers about it. Philip Johnson described the project as the largest Mies in the world.

Although his buildings are "cold", how he places his structures and uses space is extremely humane. Most developers maximize their downtown real estate to where their buildings huddle against the sidewalks like bums about a fire pit. Mies allows his buildings (and inhabitants) to breath by stepping back from the street. His architecture is as much as what's not built as it is about what's built. After walking about the city for a couple hours, it was a relief for the sky and land to open up and for his zen-like structures to let you enjoy the open space.


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    1. Removed to protect Laurie's contact info.

    2. Laurie: I send you an email, so please post again if you don't get it (or check your spam folder). -bubba

  2. I was in Toronto last week. Mostly just saw the airport. Actually, that's all I saw.