ksun

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I can think of no other major city in the world that strives for mediocrity with more passion than does Toronto.

Where once we had original sculpture, we now have.....condos.

I think Ghery said it best “Three towers gave the scheme a sculptural quality,” Gehry told the Star recently. “With two, it ain’t there. But now I think it’s more Toronto." Ouch, that's a kick in the pants - but so true.

I was thinking about the same. This needs significant alteration while things like Infinity condo and all that sea of green dullness were approved promptly. I completely agree i is more Toronto.

- if I had to guess, I would say it was put together not by him but by his staff - Ghery himself doesn't seem to have the same enthusiasm for the project like he did before - we took away his verve and replaced it with practicality - too bad. We were offered an exciting ferrari and sent it back for a safe volvo.

Yep, this ceases to be a Gehry product. It is more like "OK, let's give what the city likes and get this condo built". It still has some design, and yeah we get to keep some warehouses and an old theatre we seem to love so much and can't say good bye to, but now it is definitely a Volvo, which is quintessential Toronto.

Most likely later 92 and 82 will be considered "too tall" and add "too much density" and "not appropriate for the urban fabric of the neighbourhood" and the whole thing gets chopped to 60-70s and everybody is happy.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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Yep, this ceases to be a Gehry product. It is more like "OK, let's give what the city likes and get this condo built". It still has some design, and yeah we get to keep some warehouses and an old theatre we seem to love so much and can't say good bye to, but now it is definitely a Volvo, which is quintessential Toronto.

You should ask the architect himself about that - clearly some knows what is a Gehry product better than he does.

Most likely later 92 and 82 will be considered "too tall" and add "too much density" and "not appropriate for the urban fabric of the neighbourhood" and the whole thing gets chopped to 60-70s and everybody is happy.

Actually, it is more likely we'd get a few more floors through the CoA instead.

AoD
 

freshcutgrass

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I think it's absurd to think that the initial designs of the projects were ever going to get built as-is, even with the city's approval. If someone wants to blame the city for axing the west tower, that's fine, but there was no mandate to re-design it architecturally. That's a choice that Mirvish and Gehry made - and a completely unsurprising choice given that the economics are simply not there to build the original proposals and never were.

Anyone who didn't expect the architectural features of the proposal to get significantly watered down or revised, irrespective of the city's stance on the matter, was living in a dream world and ignoring what was coming out of Gehry's mouth. Even 8 Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan (which unlike Toronto's Gehry towers, was sold at high-end luxury prices) didn't come close to the kinds of architectural flourishes that the original Mirvish+Gehry concept proposed, yet somehow people were expecting that this mid-market project was going to make that very bold project (in its own right) look like a conservative box. Could anyone honestly look at those original models and think they had any chance of being built as-is? What we're seeing proposed by Mirvish & Gehry now is much more in line with what could realistically be expected given the price point at which it would be selling - i.e. something more or less similar to 8 Spruce Street.

You edited your post...but not near enough.

You forgot to explain the part about your special ESP powers. ha ha

Of course the design was in flux...we all know that. But to pretend it was all BS and we were going to end up with what we see now regardless is also BS. You're just deflecting and rationalizing.

Do you really think they would have incorporated the existing buildings in the design...no effing way man. (And I'm surprised they did).

You can criticize and ridicule people who don't fall down and accept this blatant city-endorsed dumbing-down all you like...you aren't going to make me accept that concept.
 

gabe

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One quibble - I dislike how the Anderson facade is integrated into the project - it looks very out of place.

AoD


Agreed. It just doesn't fit with the project. This facade would look better on a simple 40 story glass box. On a 92 story Frank Ghery building it's just going to look clumsy.
 

Ramako

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Of course the design was in flux...we all know that. But to pretend it was all BS and we were going to end up with what we see now regardless is also BS. You're just deflecting and rationalizing.

Do you really think they would have incorporated the existing buildings in the design...no effing way man. (And I'm surprised they did).

You can criticize and ridicule people who don't fall down and accept this blatant city-endorsed dumbing-down all you like...you aren't going to make me accept that concept.


I certainly wasn't surprised that they incorporated the existing buildings in the design given that it was one of the city's major problems with the project. The entire point of the working groups were to try and make this project work within the planning framework, and that's exactly what they did. I'm actually surprised that you're surprised by the outcome.

Furthermore, I'm not trying to rationalize at all. I won't bother to go back and find my posts (as some might have been on SSP or SSC) but from the very outset I was among the group who, despite loving the design, thought that it basically had zero chance of ever getting built... at least certainly not without massive revisions and value-engineering. I genuinely don't see how the city's demands had any impact on the changing architectural design and I think making the city out to be the bad guy (in that regard specifically) is lazy scapegoating. Economics have always been the biggest hurdle here and I think people are conflating the city's demands with economic demands. This narrative that the city is supposedly afraid of change, height or bold design is patently absurd and I'm tired of people pushing it.
 
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Lenser

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I genuinely don't see how the city's demands had any impact on the changing architectural design and I think making the city out to be the bad guy (in that regard specifically) is lazy scapegoating. Economics have always been the biggest hurdle here and I think people are conflating the city's demands with economic demands. This narrative that the city is supposedly afraid of change, height or bold design is patently absurd and I'm tired of people pushing it.

Well said! Too much hand-wringing and moaning about how this city supposedly shoots itself in the proverbial foot, every time. Too much anxiety and self-loathing. It feels like some kind of weird circular logic trap.

This is a great project and it remains the most daring thing this city has seen in a very long time. It's going to be a landmark achievement despite some people's tendency to go bananas and rail on about notions of brilliant designs arrogantly trashed by those evil gubmint overlords.

We're living in a raucous, complex, growing city - not some stylized comic book where you only have inky blacks or vacuous whites. This project is going to emerge from the welter of noise and fear and it's going to be pretty spectacular.
 

Torontovibe

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This is kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand I am happy that we will keep the theatre and some of the historic buildings but I am not happy with the design of the towers. I was hoping for a development that would be one of Gehry's greatest works but I don't see that in this design. I don't think these towers will get much acclaim or attention, anywhere outside of Canada.

The design just seems like a pile of boxes at weird angles, with a few indentations here and there, to make it a Gehry. Isn't it basically just 8 Spruce Street light, with a little brother? Those podiums will not help to make the street interesting or beautiful. They are just big and boxy, with a bit of a sculptural quality but still a little boring. There is no variety in textures, shapes or curves. What I love about Gehry's projects are the CURVES and we will get none of that here. I just can't help but think that this will be another AGO, which = Gehry light and the AGO just doesn't work for me at all. You almost never hear the AGO mentioned in articles about Gehry. This is not what I think of, when I think of Gehry.

I know this is a work in progress, so I hope some new details emerge to animate this project, especially in those podiums. The arts centre is going to be a pretty small attraction, if it's under 10,000 square feet. I say go big, or go home. Mirvish should donate that art to an organization and try to get a major Modern art museum build, maybe somewhere on the waterfront. I also don't see much of a public space here.

I'll be happy if it's built but right now, I just can't get too excited from what I've seen so far. I really expected better from Gehery. I wanted something that would be his swan song, bold and original. (YES, even in not so bold and original, Toronto)

I'll keep waiting and hoping for more.
 
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freshcutgrass

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I certainly wasn't surprised that they incorporated the existing buildings in the design given that it was one of the city's major problems with the project.

Oh...but I thought the city had nothing to do with it?

Eliminating the existing buildings (except for the Royal Alex of course) was the superior choice, and that's why the people with the brains didn't include them in their designs. The people with less brains demand they remain. What fun it must be for the people with the brains to be working in this fabulous "planning framework".


despite loving the design, thought that it basically had zero chance of ever getting built.

That opinion and a token will get you on the streetcar. Who are you again to be so sure about what people like Gehry and Mirvish can...and cannot accomplish???? Sorry...did I manage to overlook your considerable credentials somehow? Keep in mind that the considerable public realm contributions of this project was largely philanthropic in nature. Mirvish was spending big money on things "normal" developers purely interested in profit would never do.

I genuinely don't see how the city's demands had any impact on the changing architectural design

By demanding that Mirvish cut the profit-generating portion of this project by more than 25%, the city has ensured that those considerable public realm portions of the project have either been eliminated or drastically reduced by doing so. That's before we consider the elimination of the more costly unconventional architectural elements that "could" have been done.

So please don't tell me the city isn't responsible for affecting the quality of the project. They certainly are.


This narrative that the city is supposedly afraid of change, height or bold design is patently absurd and I'm tired of people pushing it.

How can you say that with a straight face when the evidence is so overwhelming.
 

Ramako

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Oh...but I thought the city had nothing to do with it?

Of course the city had something to do with the incorporation of the existing buildings, and while that resulted in the loss of one of the towers, I don't see how it automatically necessitated the wholesale re-design of the remaining two towers, which is what people are lamenting.

Eliminating the existing buildings (except for the Royal Alex of course) was the superior choice, and that's why the people with the brains didn't include them in their designs. The people with less brains demand they remain. What fun it must be for the people with the brains to be working in this fabulous "planning framework".

I appreciate the merits to either option. I liked the idea of giving Gehry a clean slate but I also lamented the loss of the Princess of Wales, (which helps to animate the streetscape) and I feared the deadening effect that a single blocked-sized podium could have on the area. Ultimately Gehry still has a lot of room at ground level to do something dramatic if he and Mirvish really wanted to. He's not being forced to build on top of a heritage base (a la Hearst Tower) and the floorplate is just as large as any other major tower out there, aside from a couple of the big office towers. I can understand why he would have preferred a clean state, but claiming that he's straightjacketed by having to incorporate a small heritage façade is a huge cop out. I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve with your "brains" comment - that's some pretty non-constructive rhetoric.

That opinion and a token will get you on the streetcar. Who are you again to be so sure about what people like Gehry and Mirvish can...and cannot accomplish???? Sorry...did I manage to overlook your considerable credentials somehow? Keep in mind that the considerable public realm contributions of this project was largely philanthropic in nature. Mirvish was spending big money on things "normal" developers purely interested in profit would never do.

The point I was trying to make is that I wasn't trying to rationalize this outcome (as you charged) because I held this position even before the new design was released. That being said, you don't have to be an engineer to appreciate that the costs to build those buildings as initially designed would be prohibitive, and if it's true that money is no issue for Mirvish, then there's absolutely nothing stopping him from having Gehry take the prior designs for two of the three towers and re-applying them to the remaining two. Please point to me where anyone from the city made any demands on Gehry with respect to the architectural designs of the towers.

By demanding that Mirvish cut the profit-generating portion of this project by more than 25%, the city has ensured that those considerable public realm portions of the project have either been eliminated or drastically reduced by doing so. That's before we consider the elimination of the more costly unconventional architectural elements that "could" have been done.

So please don't tell me the city isn't responsible for affecting the quality of the project. They certainly are.

I'm not sure what you're on about here. The OCAD space has remained in full, and though we're getting a smaller Mirvish Art Gallery we're effectively gaining a massive performance venue. We're also gaining a quasi-public square on Duncan Street which previously had not been part of the design, and was added after consultations with the city. Your argument seems to be that the city could somehow extract more public benefits from a developer by being more of doormat when it comes to negotiations. That's completely false and backwards.

How can you say that with a straight face when the evidence is so overwhelming.

The only thing that's overwhelming is just how much taller the city has gotten in the last decade by taking the official plan and blowing it to smithereens (which I'm totally happy about, by the way). The notion that the city that has built more skyscrapers than any other city in the western world is afraid of height or change is insane. Step back and think about the fact that the Chief Planner just came out in support of a 300+ metre tower in the middle of the Entertainment District, which was pretty much a low-rise 5 years ago, then try to claim with a straight face that we're afraid of being bold. I think people in this city are beyond spoiled when it comes to development, so I'll just leave it at that.
 

MetroMan

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This is kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand I am happy that we will keep the theatre and some of the historic buildings but I am not happy with the designs of the towers. I was hoping for a development that would be one of Gehry's greatest works but I don't see that in this design. I don't think these towers will get much acclaim or attention, anywhere outside of Canada.

The design is just seems like a pile of boxes at weird angles, with a few indentations here and there, to make it a Gehry. Isn't it basically just 8 Spruce Street light, with a little brother? Those podiums will not help to make the street interesting or beautiful. They are just big and boxy, with a bit of a sculptural quality but still a little boring. There is no variety in textures, shapes or curves. What I love about Gehry's projects is the CURVES and we will get none of that here. I just can't help but think that this will be another AGO, which = Gehry light and the AGO just doesn't work for me at all. That's not what I think of when I think of Gehry.

I know this is a work in progress, so I hope some new details emerge to animate this project, especially in those podiums. The arts centre is going to be a pretty small attraction, if it's under 10,000 square feet. I say go big, or go home. Mirvish should donate that art to an organization and try to get a major Modern art museum build, maybe somewhere on the waterfront. I also don't see much of a public space here.

I'll be happy if it's built but right now, I just can't get too excited from what I've seen so far. I really expected better from Gehery. I wanted something that would be his swan song, bold and original. (YES, even in not so bold and original, Toronto)

I'll keep waiting and hoping for more.

You took all the words out of my mouth.

I was hoping for Gehry's final bow to be a lifetime of his work culminating in his biggest masterpiece. The previous design was ambiously reaching for that goal. This is just... safe. It feels like he's just fulfilling his contractual obligations to Mirvish but isn't putting his soul into it as he had given indications previously that he wanted to do.

I'm hoping that once he starts fleshing out the details, that the podiums are transformed into the organic masses that he's known for, reaching over the PoW and landing on top of the Eclipse Whitewear building to form the art centre on its roof.

I hope Frank wasn't disillusioned over the squabbling over this project and that he regains his ambition. If this is lost, then I hope he gives it one more go and is commissioned to build something on our waterfront. Third time's the charm.
 
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ushahid

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Agreed. It just doesn't fit with the project. This facade would look better on a simple 40 story glass box. On a 92 story Frank Ghery building it's just going to look clumsy.

it will look better on Hudsons bay centre. if they ever renovate that dumb tower they should use the same dumb design.
 

syn

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You took all the words out of my mouth.

I was hoping for Gehry's final bow to be a lifetime of his work culminating in his biggest masterpiece. The previous design was ambiously reaching for that goal. This is just... safe. It feels like he's just fulfilling his contractual obligations to Mirvish but isn't putting his soul into it as he had given indications previously that he wanted to do.

I'm hoping that once he starts fleshing out the details, that the podiums are transformed into the organic masses that he's known for, reaching over the PoW and landing on top of the Eclipse Whitewear building to form the art centre on its roof.

I hope Frank wasn't disillusioned over the squabbling over this project and that he regains his ambition. If this is lost, then I hope he gives it one more go and is commissioned to build something on our waterfront. Third time's the charm.

While I like the towers I can't help but have similar feelings.

At his age this seems like the best bet for his signature project in Toronto, unfortunately.

What I don't understand is why he had to eliminate curves we saw in the last iteration. It's not as though the city demanded they be removed.

While this will be a good project with these towers, I hope the final design implements more of his signature flourishes.
 

adma

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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.

Actually, when it comes to compromise--Revell's City Hall, 1958

s0843_fl0134.jpg


1965

photo-toronto-new-city-hall-opening-night-note-on-left-construction-big-crowd-1965.jpg


Had UT existed in the Mad Men era, there'd be lotsa moaning about the compromises.
 

Big Daddy

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If you don't like the new design, the only people you have to blame are Mirvish, Gehry and your own unfounded expectations.

You just proved my point. Stand tall and tell all that anyone who had any hope that a project of such magnitude could be built in Toronto is clearly carrying unfounded expectations.
 

freshcutgrass

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I'm not sure what you're trying to achieve with your "brains" comment - that's some pretty non-constructive rhetoric.

Actually, it should become increasingly apparent that brains play a far more integral part in this drama than you think.



and while that resulted in the loss of one of the towers, I don't see how it automatically necessitated the wholesale re-design of the remaining two towers

Please point to me where anyone from the city made any demands on Gehry with respect to the architectural designs of the towers.

I am now going to the kitchen to get a fork...so I can stab myself in my freaking eyeball.


you don't have to be an engineer to appreciate that the costs to build those buildings as initially designed would be prohibitive

I'm quite sure Mirvish didn't hire Gehry to save money on the architectural bill.

I'm also quite sure you have no clue as to Gehry's working style involving his visions as translated through his mind...to the models...to the actual working plans...to the physical completed building. He has managed to build some pretty interesting stuff...and yea...they tend to be expensive to execute.


if it's true that money is no issue for Mirvish, then there's absolutely nothing stopping him from having Gehry take the prior designs for two of the three towers and re-applying them to the remaining two.

Oh really?? Can they take the profits from 700 condos in a Gehry building and transfer that to the remaining two as well? (see where the "brains" bit is starting to be more than just rhetoric)


I also lamented the loss of the Princess of Wales, (which helps to animate the streetscape) and I feared the deadening effect that a single blocked-sized podium could have on the area.

Eliminating the POW solved a couple of problems...freed up space for a much better project and was a good business move for Mirvish. If you have been paying attention at all I shouldn't have to even be repeating this. Fewer seats to fill in a theatre down market means the remaining theatres are healthier (including the Royal Alex located on this site).

And I think you overestimate the "animation" the existing buildings add to the street. People aren't using POW 24/7. The rest of the tenants in the old warehouse buildings hardly add any animation to the street, unless you count the panhandlers outside Tim Hortons. Obviously, the original podium would have contained components better able to animate the street. And a better animated street requires wider sidewalks than currently exists (far more important element than people give credit to). You can just kiss that goodbye now.

What else is it you lament about the POW????
The shows?...you will still be able to see them...at the remaining venues.
The POMO street facade? I hope you wouldn't trade a Gehry to keep that.
The Stella art? Don't worry...Mirvish Has Stella on speed dial. (wait a minute...you're an art-hating Torontonian...never mind)


Your argument seems to be that the city could somehow extract more public benefits from a developer by being more of doormat when it comes to negotiations. That's completely false and backwards.

I did not claim that as a blanket statement at all. I am strictly referring to this project, and these players specifically.

Like I've said...if it's the same height, same density, same precedent setting situation, but instead with zero public realm or cultural benefits (ala Aura), then it gets approval from the City (in fact is given height increases).

What we have here, are two men...both of which are Toronto-born and world class in their respective fields, contemplating what is essentially their going out with a bang legacy projects.

And you are telling me we have "gained" from the city-directed dumbing down of this project? Your are indeed rationalizing...or you just have bad taste.


Step back and think about the fact that the Chief Planner just came out in support of a 300+ metre tower in the middle of the Entertainment District, which was pretty much a low-rise 5 years ago, then try to claim with a straight face that we're afraid of being bold.

The lack of boldness is not based on what we get....but what we turned down. Step back and think about that.
 

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