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10/1 2012

Big Plans for King Street West

Starchitect Frank Gehry, right, and theatre impresario David Mirvish fielded questions this morning at a press conference where they confirmed plans to transform King Street West from the Royal Alexandra Theatre, which will be preserved, to the Princess of Wales Theatre, which will be demolished along with the rest of a city block to make way for three gargantuan condominium towers and a sprawling six-story podium containing retail space, an art gallery housing Mirvish’s extensive collection of contemporary abstract art and a new home for OCAD University‘s Public Learning Centre.

Gehry stressed that “It’s precarious to show projects like this and make them look finished because they’re not. The base sketches are far from finished, these are works in progress.”

The plans have not been approved by the City but Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughan was on hand this morning to voice his support for the concept, which will transform a major portion of his ward.

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09/20 2012

Daniels Spectrum Unleashes the Arts

For months we’ve been calling it the Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre but on the eve of its official opening Toronto’s newest and shiniest arts hub has been christened the Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East) following the announcement of a $4 million gift from site developer Daniels Corporation and the John and Myrna Daniels Charitable Foundation to building operator Artscape.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the purpose-built facility houses a range of performing and visual arts tenants including ArtHeart Community Art Centre, the Regent Park Film Festival and Regent Park School of Music, the Collective of Black Artists (COBA), Native Earth Performing Arts, Cahoots, Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre and fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company. The third floor of the space houses the newest Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

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08/10 2012

Architectural Digest Spotlights Toronto

Simcoe Wave Deck in Toronto
Architectural Digest
has singled out Toronto’s Simcoe Wave Deck and its creators West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture for innovation in design. “Guided by cofounder Adriaan Geuze, a Dutch landscape design group conceives settings both startling and sublime,” writes AD. “In Toronto, West 8 recently built balance-testing boardwalks that rise up like waves along the downtown waterfront, some two miles of which the studio is helping to rehabilitate.”

In the same issue of the magazine (September 2012), Toronto writer Alex Bozikovic interviews three movers and shakers — TIFF’s Cameron Bailey, star chef Susur Lee and designer George Yabu — about their favorite haunts and shopping destinations, all in honour of the Toronto International Film Festival September 6 – 16. “Canada’s largest city is becoming a capital of cool,” trumpets the sub-head. As if we didn’t know.

Simcoe Wave Deck in Toronto
Photos courtesy West 8

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05/24 2012

City Building at Doors Open Toronto

JackDiamond SMThe offices of Diamond Schmitt Architects will be humming all weekend as firm designers including the internationally acclaimed Jack Diamond, left, lead talks about various projects and design trends centered on this year’s Doors Open Toronto theme of city building.

This marks the third year Diamond Schmitt has opened its doors and programmed a full slate of engaging show-and-tell sessions including models, videos and first-hand dissections of design challenges and solutions.

Firm co-founder Diamond sees the DOT programming as a public service, “a way of heightening the appreciation of what the profession does. We have found there’s an extraordinary appetite, a hunger to know about this, to get into buildings and figure things out.”

“I myself think that the so-called iconic buildings that people ‘ew’ and ‘ah’ about are a bit like baubles in front of savages, they’re bright and they glitter but they’re not worth a whole lot. So I think that if people come to our office they’ll see the seriousness with which we deal with the connection between content and context.”

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05/22 2012

On the Heels of a Gargoyle Hunter

TerrySMIf you have even a passing interest in architectural ornament you won’t want to miss this weekend’s Doors Open Toronto walking tour led by Terry Murray, left, author of Faces on Places, a 2006 guidebook from Anansi Press.

Murray’s passion for gargoyles, grotesques and the panoply of carvings adorning Toronto’s oldest structures inspired her to start photographing and learning what she could about how and why they came to be staring down on our busy streets. Her curiosity and perseverance gained her access to some of the city’s best architectural details; in the photo at left, she poses on a scaffold with one of the gargoyles perched on the clock tower of Old City Hall.

In her research Murray discovered that the original stone gargoyles eroded to the point where pieces started raining down onto the street below. In 1920 one of the beasts actually broke free and crashed through the roof, nearly killing an unsuspecting employee. Still, it took the City another 18 years before the gargolyles were removed and replaced with bronze replicas weighing a fraction of the original stone figures. These are the kinds of stories Murray will be sharing on her DOT walks Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm (meet in the City Hall rotunda and come early to ensure a spot as space is limited). READ MORE