The Greying of Toronto

TheStar.com | News | We don’t deserve this horrorchitecture

I loved the words Christopher Hume uses to describe the new structure finally arising out of the ashes of Yonge Street’s old has-been, city-expropriated architecture: “nasty dark grey bunker”, “galactic coal-carrier”, “lumpen excuse for a building”, “dead and inert”. And what is this lumpen grey bulky coal carrier called? “Time Life Square.” I had no idea. Did you?

I haven’t see it. But it doesn’t surprise me that a city that thinks cluttering up our sidewalks with garbage bins once a week and converting our neighbourhoods from flora to trash showcases would A-OK horrorchitecture. After all, a city hall that couldn’t care less about the downward spiral of our collective living space from being the cleanest and greenest on the continent to littered and stinky, is not going to care much about what the buildings look like. We really are dependent on individuals, corporations, and developers to ensure we have architecture that one can admire and that provokes (good) thought. For the most part, they’ve been letting us down.

Still, there have been a few shining lights, especially recently. The Crystal at the ROM is a masterpiece that adds to Avenue Road and Bloor, no matter whether one likes it or not. The new opera hall elevates the intellectual life of our city. And Citytv, now owned by Rogers, its iconic building stormed by CTV, may yet save Yonge and Dundas.

The Yonge-Dundas Square is attractive, in a urban, hard-edged way, until one looks to the east side and sees that rather messy temporary structure. It really brings the whole place down. How about erecting a permanent stage of beauty, like the shell at the CNE? (Perhaps Citytv with their penchant for taking over the area around their building may do just that.)

But no matter what a few good corporations do, somehow the citizens of Toronto are going to have to find their moxie and counter the efforts of city hall to turn our urban oasis into a grey dump.

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