Friday, November 16, 2007

Toronto exploding with (crappy?) design

Having recently moved to Toronto from Montreal, I was impressed with my new city's skyline and mixture of old and new architectural marvels. Though, this didn't make up for my inability to satisfy my periodic Schwartz's smoked meat sandwich cravings or the lack of a true, Montreal bagel (OK, I'll admit, I've since come to enjoy Gryfe's brand of bready goodness), still, I enjoyed taking in the scenery. Until lately.

Sure, I'd always wanted to check out the CN Tower, once the world's largest freestanding structure (now dwarfed by the Burj Dubai, which will apparently stretch to the moon, or something ludicrous, by the time it's completed) and visit the Roger's Centre (nee Skydome). – Hey, I like it. I think it's a neat sports venue when compared to the death-trap that is the Olympic Stadium – and the multitude of cool buildings in the King and Jarvis area, to name but a few.

Then I started to notice some jarring sites that made me wince and wonder what Toronto was thinking in its architectural master plan. For instance - the Ontario College of Arts and Design's (OCAD) Sharp Centre for Design building:

I've never seen anything like it. And hope never to again. To me, it's a giant Lego piece with Crayola pencil legs. Hunh!? Designer: Will Alsop of Britain.

Next up, we have the newly-finished Royal Ontario Museum "Crystal" building. It was a much touted, hyped and reported upon structure. Many hailed the Daniel Libeskind design as visionary and risk taking. Well, in my opinion, the only "risk" associated with this building is the one people take every day looking at it. I mean, LOOK at this:

It's an Imperial Star Destroyer from the Star Wars universe come crashing into the old ROM building. What? Was Toronto city council hiding a rebel base inside the joint? Weird.

And now comes word that Libeskind, will once again be branding Toronto with another of his concepts: The "L" Tower. It's to be situated behind the old Hummingbird Centre (now the Sony Centre for Performing Arts) at Yonge and Front Streets. Voila! Here's an artist's rendering:

Here's one local blogger's assessment of this new project.

"Good lord," writes Eric. "This thing is going to be a permanent feature of one of Toronto's most important intersections? Visitors are going to arrive in Union Station and step outside to take a gander at the giant glass phallus across the street?... Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it isn't a giant penis, but just a huge metaphorical middle finger raised to the citizens of Toronto."

OK. Maybe it's not that bad. But at the very least, it looks like a giant boot about to crush everything in its path. Not only that, but to have the chutzpah to craft a building in the form of your family initial, that's going a little overboard. Might as well name it the "Liebskind uber-cool,best-building-ever-in-the-history-of-mankind-and-oh-did-I-
mention-that-I'm-Daniel-Liebskind building."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. But I'm not feeling beholden to Liebskind's vision on this one.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Blintzy does it again! Great post on the truly dismal landscape of Toronto Architecture.

Anthony.Parker.18 said...

Great article, Blintz. If you truly want to get a glimpse of Toronto's lack of architectural imagination, check out the billowing smoke factories lining the waterfront. Nothing is more aesthetically pleasing than industrial wasteland by the lake.

My dream would be to build and attach the mirror image of the "L" building right next to it, and then call it the "Atari Towers". How cool would that be?

Jorge said...

Why bother with this content on Heebonics? Where's the focus on young Jews?

Blintzkrieg said...

Hi Jorge,

Young Jews can have an opinion on architecture too, no?