Mike in TO

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I attended the meeting last night... a couple of thoughts & observations:

1. For those who had become wedded to the previous design... it was still a design in flux and would have continued to evolve – what you saw what not what you were going to get anyway.

2. For 90% of projects out there, the public only sees the final or close to final design - this was a unique process in which we've been "invited" into Gehry's studio to see the many incarnations of an ever evolving design.

3. There were literally dozens of models on display at the public meeting showing variations of the proposed "skin/façade" of the new towers - they displayed variations in texture, materials and various different "ripple effects" - none of the pictures posted on the forum yet do justice to the potential details that Gehry is considering for the towers. I've read a couple comments in this thread concerned about a watered down "box" - from what was on display last night, I think it is fair to say that the "skin" of the new proposal is still very much up in the air and that Gehry has some very very interesting ideas that will be unlike anything ever built in this city.

4. Again, for those that are trashing the "bureaucrats" & planners in this process.... planning is politics period. There are a few people on this thread who became wedded to the original proposal and spend a lot of energy here on their keyboards typing away - okay great - where were you at the public meetings? Where were you at Toronto East York Community Council? with the local councilor (Vaughan deserves a lot of credit for pushing this through - I think the project would have likely failed without his involvement at the city level and would have been declined by the OMB) with the planning department, trying to get involved with the BIA, community or the working group etc? Screaming at the internet does not accomplish anything.... I think a lot of people have failed to recognize that for every "pro M-G proponent" there were a lot more highly vocal and highly motivated people against the project.

The heritage issues weren't just a "planning" issue - they were a political barrier to the project being approved. The loss of the Princess of Wales was not a "planning" issue - but it did motivate a lot of people to vocally oppose the project....As much as some people liked the pretty pictures and renderings there was a lot of very real political pressures and planning issues that stood in the way of either planning department support, council support and made for an OMB approval very very unlikely - the only solution was for various factions to work together. This is the real world, not SimCity.

5. Back to the project and something that hasn't been discussed on this thread, but that was a key point of discussion last night was the re-orientation of the new project to Duncan Street - Duncan is to now have no sidewalk/street/curb differentiation and is to become much more like a square with special paving that will become the public space and cultural focal point of the project... the previous three tower design never really had a public realm focal point whereas this project does - the design team made comparisons to the Rockafellar Centre.

6. Previous podium was much more whimsical - but may not have been practical in our winter - new base feels a lot more "urban" and very strongly frames King & Duncan.

7. Trade-offs: 2,700 units down to 2,000 (which may actually increase the economic viability by reducing carrying costs, speeding market absorption and lowering a number of risk factors). Beyond the world of renderings and models and the political approval process – the project actually has to sell and be economically viable to become a reality.

8. Trade-offs: The new gallery space is much much smaller - with 700 fewer units and less space to work with & there were physical & cost constraints

9. Trade-offs: Mirvish losses the gallery space for his collection, but we gain a theatre that was going to be lost

10. Pure speculation, but if this project is successful, maybe in a decade Mirvish will bring a new project to Toronto for his art collection... he seemed genuinely pleased that the Princess of Wales theatre is being saved and in the past has seemed somewhat conflicted about losing the theatre.
 
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NBGtect

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Hi Mike in TO,

You seem to understand that we live in a country and a city where the public has great influence over what and how something gets built. This is a very good thing and one that shouldn't be taken for granted.

I think a lot of people on UT would be more comfortable living in Shanghai or Dubai. Things get done there and with zero public input. Enough said.
 

alklay

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Mike in TO, thanks for the update and comments (all of which I agree, although I am sure we will continue to hear complaints about "bureaucrats, Vaughan and Keesmaat" although they have done a terrific job in pleasing most every party). I am looking forward to seeing what Gehry and Mirvish come up with for the near final and final designs.
 

Haljackey

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I for one am happy to see this change.

I thought there was no chance in hell of the original design becoming reality, so this compromise is great news!
 

interchange42

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At 92 storeys, that's above a thousand feet or damn close. Will our height dorks finally get a bona fide "supertall" to swoon over?

Some people define a supertall as 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet. Those people (who cling to an outdated system of measurement only really recognized by a last century power to the south of us) will not be happy as the taller building only hits 998 feet. Generally, however, 300 to 600 metres is now accepted as the definition of a supertall, so the broader world-wide base of skyscraper geeks who adhere to this definition will accept the west tower as one of the clan.

I attended the meeting last night... a couple of thoughts & observations:

8. Trade-offs: The new gallery space is much much smaller - with 700 fewer units and less space to work with & there were physical & cost constraints

9. Trade-offs: Mirvish losses the gallery space for his collection, but we gain a theatre that was going to be lost

10. Pure speculation, but if this project is successful, maybe in a decade Mirvish will bring a new project to Toronto for his art collection... he seemed genuinely pleased that the Princess of Wales theatre is being saved and in the past has seemed somewhat conflicted about losing the theatre.

Points 9 and 10 need to be addressed: This gallery, while much smaller, will still be used to exhibit the Mirvish Collection. The works of the collection will need to be rotated through it on a more regular basis, but along with other exhibitions of related artworks, the intended use of the venue remains the same.

Much more coming on the front page soon.

42
 

freshcutgrass

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King West works exceedingly well currently, and taking the wrecking ball to it for the sake of giving a starchitect a 'clean slate' would have been the truly unsophisticated course of action.

On the contrary...it doesn't work well currently. In fact, density bonuses should have been awarded to this project for replacing them with something better.

But the motto here is..."make it shittier". And it looks like they have complied.

The real money was going into the podium...that's why is was represented as being such a spectacular, complicated working design. And this is where the public was going to experience this project...not the towers. I still think the towers will look pretty good, but the budget has been decimated on the podium, and the public realm aspect of this project has been greatly reduced. So go take your big bow Toronto. Although I somehow suspect the city isn't quite done with this yet...I think they will ask that it be made just a teeny bit shittier yet.

R.I.P. Awesome Mirvish Gallery. (not that Toronto will care)



You seem to understand that we live in a country and a city where the public has great influence over what and how something gets built. This is a very good thing and one that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Toronto is fast becoming the poster boy for the shortcomings of democracy.
 
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junior43

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So 2 of the 4 warehouses are being saved. Do we know how much of them? Is it just another facadectomy, or is a substantial amount of the building being saved?

Just curious, and I won't be amazed if we don't know yet.

I'm split on the new plan. Loved the first one, but thought it impractical for TO's climate (specifically the frosted white one). But, from just one look, you knew it was a Gehry. This one, although nice (and still lots of work to be done/refined) looks very anonymous, in that any above average Architect could have come up with it.

I'm very optimistic overall. I didn't like the very first iteration of Gehry's plan, but the second was vastly better. Hopefully the same happens on this one as well.
 

Lenser

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Toronto is fast becoming the poster boy for the shortcomings of democracy.

You said it, dude! Bring on the fascism!

/sarcasm

We always knew this thing was a project in flux, that it would evolve over time. It's going to look different yet again and the final realization may be pleasantly surprising - doomsayers notwithstanding.
 

rpeters

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Well Toronto, you'll now be able to lay claim to the ugliest Trump tower in the world, the ugliest Frank Gehry buildings in the world, and probably the ugliest communications/observation tower in the world. Congrats!
 

modernizt

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I'm highly amused by the Toronto shaming and blaming going on in here; BRB, grabbing my popcorn.

If you don't like the towers' aesthetic, perhaps you may want to blame the architects? You know, the team who designed it? But naw, it must be the city's fault; Gehry is a grand visionary, a sculptor, whose original sketches are sent to him by God and are not to be sullied by humankind. Pleeease, spare me. Architecture is a process of responding to conditions with architectonic solutions. Any good, experienced architect could respond to the conditions provided to them on this site; the context, the planning framework, the politics, the restrictions on the site, the client, etc. etc... If you don't think Gehry has done that, then that's a criticism you can direct his way.

As you all know, I'm quite excited by this new plan, and was not nearly as impressed by the original. I will state that I don't think Gehry is experienced with residential buildings to the degree that would push the doubt out of my mind that these condo boards are going to have a hell of a time affording to maintain a building with the extreme detailing that his firm is renowned for. Alas, I am quite enjoying what I see proposed in this current iteration; we'll have to see how the design develops.
 
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buildup

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I think the towers are more refined than before, and when you examine them there is a very clear Gehry signature. I'd be very interested to hear someone expert on the topic of precast. I'm assuming this will not look at all like Uptown. M+G aren't going to settle for bad pre-cast. There are probably many levels of quality and texture to choose from.
On the PLUS:

1) Two fine towers, one 92 floors
2) A public square
3) Gallery 10,000 foot, not too shabby at all!
4) OCAD

If the designated properties are refurbished, it could be interesting. Maybe one of the warehouses could contain the Gallery?
 

freshcutgrass

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You said it, dude! Bring on the fascism!

/sarcasm

Why....is a more intelligent electorate too much to ask for? (zero sarcasm)



We always knew this thing was a project in flux, that it would evolve over time. It's going to look different yet again and the final realization may be pleasantly surprising - doomsayers notwithstanding.

Of course we knew it was a work in progress, but not compromised by a much lower budget and forced to include inferior buildings. That's not "progress"....."dude"
 

freshcutgrass

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I will state that I don't think Gehry is experienced with residential buildings to the degree that would push the doubt out of my mind that these condo boards are going to have a hell of a time affording to maintain a building with the extreme detailing that his firm is renowned for.

So then...it really isn't Gehry that you have no faith in...it's the mere mortals that you feel aren't capable of living up to their Gehry (I feel I am partially plagiarizing Wilde).



Any good, experienced architect could respond to the conditions provided to them on this site; the context, the planning framework, the politics, the restrictions on the site, the client, etc. etc... If you don't think Gehry has done that, then that's a criticism you can direct his way.

Well, there aren't that many good architects for one thing....and any example of good architecture in this city is not a result of such compromise for another. From Revell and City Hall to Mies and TD Centre.

And if you think bureaucracy is the key to good architecture, then I'm afraid I'm gonna have to call you on your claim as the latest anonymous self-appointed chat forum expert on the subject.
 

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