The 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.”
If 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
Toronto-based architect Siamak Hariri walked an excited roomful of dignitaries through his plans for a revamped Alliance Français de Toronto headquarters at 24 Spadina Road earlier this afternoon. Hariri described the redevelopment as a “small but important project” that will enhance the existing Victorian-era building with modern glass cubes housing additional classrooms, a cafe, even a small theatre. The vision, according to Alliance Français de Toronto President Gordon MacIvor, is to transform the facility into a francophone cultural hub in the city with a space capable of presenting salons, cabarets and musical events. Hariri noted that the building will be completed in stages over the next couple of years as funding is secured: Trillium Foundation Board Member Kathleen Freeman was on hand to announce a grant of $500,000 to help get construction underway.
Photo by Christopher Jones, architectural rendering courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects
Architect Don Schmitt (far right) of Diamond Schmitt Architects addresses press and well-wishers at the grand opening of Regent Park’s new Citadel studio/theatre, which he designed. A former Salvation Army soup kitchen, the adaptive re-use of the 1912 building was spearheaded by Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux, founders and co-Artistic Directors of contemporary dance company, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Ward 28 Councillor Pam McConnell officiated at the ribbon cutting. READ MORE
Art Gallery of Ontario president Tony Gagliano shares a laugh with Senator Linda Frum, left, and AGO CEO Matthew Teitelbaum and Tamara Rebanks (George Weston Limited VP), all of whom spoke at this morning’s opening of the new 35,000 square foot Weston Family Learning Centre at the AGO. The new facility offers innovative art education programming to children, youth, families and students of all ages, and features 6,000 square feet of studio space. The new wing was designed by Toronto firm Hariri Pontarini Architects.