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Higher Education : Development News

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UTSCís secondary plan balances growth and nature

Since approving its master plan in 2011, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) has invested almost a half a billion dollars in infrastructure, including the $205-million Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building and the Instructional Centre.
But that’s only the beginning of the reinvention of the campus, which will eventually be linked to rapid transit by the Crosstown LRT, making it more accessible to students, staff and the wider community.
“The opportunities here are just accelerating, I think, and we want to be able to leverage the best opportunities we can,” says Brent Duguid, director of partnerships and legal counsel at UTSC.
Last month UTSC held a public open house to examine its draft secondary plan, which will provide a finer grain rollout of the masterplan. Several new development projects are currently in the planning stages, including Highland Hall, which is the redevelopment of the old athletic centre that’s been replaced by the Pan Am complex, a new parking structure and a 750-bed undergraduate student residence, which will double the number of student beds at UTSC. A feasibility study for a hotel and conference centre is also in the works. Military Trail, which cuts diagonally across the campus, is being re-aligned, with at-grade retail uses encouraged along it to create an animated and vibrant streetscape and to compensate for the lack of shopping and eating in the area surrounding the sprawling campus. “The larger open spaces will be augmented by a series of walkways, landscaped streets, courtyards, lawns and other open spaces that will provide for an enhanced campus setting” states the presentation delivered at the open house.
Despite all the new building, the secondary plan aims to maintain the campus’ relationship with the Highland Creek Ravine, preserving natural and open space particularly in the south of the campus. “It is anticipated that some development, particularly the transit investments and realignment of Military Trail, may impact some of natural resources,” states the open house presentation. “Any impacts will be mitigated through restoration and renaturalization programs elsewhere on campus to ensure a net benefit overall to the campus natural heritage system.”
Duguid says the draft secondary plan should be ready for the City of Toronto to review within the next month.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Brent Duguid

OCAD U continues reinvention of McCaul Street

Last week when OCAD University announced its new a $60-million Creative City Campus project, it was giving itself a lot more room to grow, with an 55,000 square feet of new space and a renewal of another 94,700 square feet of existing space.
But it was also furthering the transformation of the intersection of Dundas and McCaul streets—already home to two of pieces of iconic Toronto architecture, Frank Gehry’s redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD U’s own Will Alsop-designed Sharp Centre for Design—and taking another step toward turning McCaul into a cultural corridor.
“There will be a real sense of continuity as one walks down McCaul from that gateway intersection. We are going to be revitalizing the George Reid House building, creating much better viewpoints to Grange Park, refurbishing the portico area and participating with the AGO on a thoroughfare from Grange Park to Butterfield Park and an upgrade of their park area as well as ours,” says OCAD U president Sarah Diamond. “We may also have the opportunity on McCaul Street to do some work with our neighbours to really beautify the street and create a dynamic entry point to the cultural community within the city of Toronto.”
The designs for renovations at 100 and 115 McCaul—the George Reid building and the new Centre for Experiential Learning in the Rosalie Sharp Pavillion, respectively—will have to take into account their proximity to two of Toronto’s most attention-grabbing buildings. OCAD U has decided to go ahead with the Bortolotto Architects design for 115 McCaul that would have a dramatic scrim wrapped around the building, peeling away at the corner to reveal what’s going on inside through a glass wall. The Diamond Schmitt Architects preliminary proposal for 100 McCaul, which is yet to be put out for an RFP, is less showy, as the building is below the famed Alsop building.
“I would say the Bortolotto is a powerful design intervention, really tasteful and absolutely considered in relation to the Sharp Centre and the AGO,” says Diamond. “Because we’re building out [at 100 McCaul], any architect doing that work will have to think really carefully to do something subtle enough and beautiful enough that doesn’t compete with what will be three iconic buildings—even though the Bortolotto is small, it will be gorgeous. It will require a lot of collaboration.”
The project at 115 McCaul is expected to be complete during the 2018-2019 school year; the 100 McCaul project in 2019-2020. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has invested $27 million in the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sara Diamond

Artscape mulls designs for Launchpad space in Daniels Waterfront

The Launchpad creative space, scheduled to open in 2018 in the Daniels building going up at Queens Quay and Jarvis, sounds like a quintessentially Artscape kind of project—but it’s not quite.
Known for creating affordable residential and studio spaces for artists and cultural organizations, Artscape is been the force behind Wychwood Barns, Young Place, Triangle Lofts and Daniels Spectrum, among other place-making projects. Launchpad, described as “part incubator, part co-working facility and part entrepreneurship centre,” builds on the success of those projects, but takes a more proactive approach in supporting artists, partnering with educational institutions to help creative types build sustainable businesses. The idea came out of a study Artscape did few years ago on how to help creative people thrive, which suggested that affordable spaces are only half the equation—boosting income is the other half.
“A lot of the [existing programs] were focused on short-term survival-oriented things, rather than growth and development from a business perspective,” says Artscape CEO Tim Jones. Though the space has yet to be built, Launchpad is already on the fourth cohort of the program’s various pilots.
So it makes sense that designing the Launchpad space has also been a different process for Artscape. It will inhabit, 30,000 square feet within the mixed-use Daniels Waterfront—City of the Arts complex on the former site of Guvernment nightclub. The organization has worked with Daniels twice before, and has also worked before with Quadrangle Architects, who designed the interior of the Corus Entertainment building across the street. But while many of Artscape’s previous spaces have been designed from the ground up to be site- and community-specific, based on intensive consultation with stakeholders, Launchpad will be shaped as a project built for export.
“For most of our projects, we’re trying to make them as unique as possible,” says Jones, “Launchpad is a different kettle of fish for us because, if this model works and is effective in serving the needs of a broader group of people and growing their entrepreneur skills, then this is the one project that we’ll start to replicate across the country and around the world. The issues we’re addressing here are faced by other major cities around the world.”
The look and feel of the space will be important to that success. “In some cases we’ve had a light touch, but here we’re looking to develop a stronger design sense,” says Jones.
And what will that sense be?
“That’s a good question. When I can communicate that, I’ll need to write it down,” laughs Jones. “We want it to be really welcoming. We’re dealing with a lot of interesting disciplines that will have to live side by side, making noise and dust, so it will have to accommodate that. Our offices will be located within the complex, so there are a lot of practical considerations along with the aesthetic ones.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tim Jones

New Downsview campus opens whole new world for Centennial College aerospace students

Centennial College’s new Downsview Park Aerospace Campus, slated to begin construction this fall, has big shoes to fill.
The campus will provide aerospace training for up to 900 students at a time in a 130,000-square-foot space that’s the former home of the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., a storied company founded in 1929 that built planes for the Second World War. The massive building also hosted the Canadian Air and Space Museum from 1997 to 2011 and was slated for demolition just four years ago.
Instead, it will be renovated into a teaching facility and innovation hub that will be Centennial’s fifth campus, a project expected to cost $55.4 million and create new partnerships between Centennial, other academic institutions like the University of Toronto, and the private sector.
The design is by MJMA, the architecture firm behind the Regent Park Aquatics Centre and Centennial’s own Ashtonbee Campus Library and Student Hub. While most of the building’s exterior will be preserved, maintaining the ample natural light, the interior will accommodate larger aircraft than the original builders could have imagined. The area where 7,000 employees used to work at the main assembly line will become the main foyer.
“The spirit is intact and will remain the same,” says Andrew Petrou, director of strategic initiatives and external relations at Centennial and executive director of the Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR). “The design pays homage to the history of what’s come out of that building.”
Adjacent to the Downsview Airport and close to Bombardier’s Downsview plant and Defence Research and Development Canada, students in the aviation program, currently based in Scarborough, will have unprecedented access to the aviation sector.
 “It’s a real game changer,” says Petrou. “Students can look at the latest technology in seconds.”
The college also has plans for outreach to the local community, and to build bridges between small and medium sized businesses and the academic community that will inhabit the campus. The result, Petrou hopes, will be a more vital aerospace ecosystem that will keep Canada at the top of its game.
“Canada’s currently fifth in the world, but other countries have their eye on our spot,” says Petrou.
The campus is slated to open by fall 2017.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Andrew Petrou

More than 40 years later, Robarts Library is getting its third pavilion

When the University of Toronto’s iconic John P. Robarts Library was completed in 1973, two pavilions flanked the enormous main building: the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Claude T. Bissell Building.
But on the Huron Street side, there was supposed to have been a third pavilion, which was never built.
When Diamond Schmitt Architects studied Robarts for the first phase of a $65-million renovation of Robarts—a phase which maximized the study space inside the triangle-shaped library and brought in more light—they uncovered breakout panels that were intended to connect to the unbuilt third pavilion on the loading dock side of the building.
“There is no plan that anybody can find anywhere, but there is a diagram in the opening-book brochure that shows a dotted line where that third pavilion was supposed to be,” says Gary McCluskie, a principal at Diamond Schmitt. “As part of that renovation work we started working on a plan for what could be built on that west side of the building.”
The discovery turned into an idea. The development application for the new Robarts Common expansion, about 56,000 square feet over five storeys, was filed earlier this month. And so more than 40 years later, Robarts will finally get its third pavilion.
But while original plan was for a 500-seat classroom/special events room, the new building will instead provide 1,222 seats of study space. The free-standing structure, which will connect to the main building via bridges over the loading dock, also shuns the brutal concrete architectural style that has made the original building so famous—or infamous, as the case may be. The five storeys will have a much more contemporary look that recognizes Robarts dramatic style without replicating it. Metal facets will mimic the metal on the existing building. There will be lots of glass, but blinds and fretting on the glass will reduce the amount of light that comes out of the building.
“What was really engaging about this project was finding the ways we could be similar so it fits in but is of our time today building for something that’s serving a new purpose,” says McCluskie.
Rest assured, since the new build is on the Huron Street side, the building’s striking resemblance to a turkey or peacock, when seen from the George Street side, won’t be affected.
If everything goes according to plan, construction could start next winter with an opening two years after that.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Gary McCluskie and Larry Alford
Photo Credit: University of Toronto

Moving on up: Community college gets a residence

Ground broke last week on a new residence that will form the gateway to Centennial College's Scarborough campus.

Designed by Donald Schmitt, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects, the new building will house 740 beds, a rooftop conference centre, and a glass-walled culinary school and restaurant on the ground floor. It will double the height of the current tallest building on campus, a library also designed by Diamond Schmitt.

"It will be the first building you see as you approach the campus," Schmitt says, "and it's designed specifically to be the landmark that defines the entry. It will be eight storeys in height, so it will be seen from the 401, and it will give the college quite a bit of presence."

Though the facade and materials will not match the library, Schmitt says the massing and configuration will complement the earlier building.

"We're trying to articulate each of the parts of the building," he says, "with a high level of transparency in the culinary areas, and on every floor of the residences there are these enormous lounges that are all clad in glass, so there will be huge bay windows that project on every level on all four facades."

One of the more novel aspects of the building has less to do with how it was designed than how came together. It's a partnership between Centennial and Knightstone Capital Management, who are the developers and will be managing the building once it's complete. (As Schmitt points out, though government funding is available for academic buildings, academic institutions have to come up with their own schemes for residences.)

Schmitt estimates the 353,500 square foot building, for which Knightstone will be seeking LEED Silver certification, will be ready for students by September, 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Donald Schmitt

Massive reconstruction of U of T law school underway

Though regularly ranked first in the country, the University of Toronto's law school has long suffered from a lack of physical identity. It's tough to find, for one, and when you do, it just seems a scattering of buildings with nothing tying them together other than the impressive earnings of its graduates.

Hariri Pontarini hopes to do something about that.

Working with several extreme restrictions, including space and money (odd, that, given the aforementioned alumni earnings), Michael Boxer, the lead architect, has pulled together an agglomeration he hopes will fix the problem, and give the school a more coherent relationship to its surroundings, both academic and urban.

"We started with this idea of pillars," Boxer says, "reinterpreting the columns from Flavelle House. The portico and those pillars in red brick are one of the first things you see as you're driving south, and we set the new building behind it with a sheer glass, mirror-like surface to reflect the old building and the sky, and have the syntax of that orderly symmetrical column grid. The portico columns are like the front teeth, the foremost columns, and there's the offspring, smaller derivatives that then spin through the site at more of a filigree. Off of Philosophers Walk you see the same thing, there's an echoed portico with four columns. The materiality is trying to echo the traditional masonry construction.

"There's a crispness to the glass and detailing, but at the same time there's robust stone pillars and textured masonry base that's going to be very heavy and of the earth."

Seen from above, the buildings seem a little smushed together, but Boxer says that it won't affect students and others who use the buildings.

"The massing might appear challenging at different levels," he says, "but internally, and the way you'll experience the building at grade, they should work well together."

Hariri Pontarini has been working on its designs since 2000, a reflection of the complexity of the project, which includes dismantling much of a late 1980s, early 1990s addition, which itself enveloped an expansion from the 1950s, much of which is being uncovered after decades during the process.

"It's almost like a snake that eats a frog," Boxer says, referring to the newly discovered relationship between the two previous projects.

"What we're doing is remodelling the 1980s addition for the expansion, and so there's three layers of renovation that's going on there. As they undo parts of the 1980s addition, they're discovering the 1950s remnants that are inside the 1980s body. The 1980s structure kind of piggy-backed and grabbed as much of the 1950s structure as it could."

One of the main aspects of the brief from the school was to create a social centre for the school.

"The school as it stood was a bit in disparate pieces," Boxer says. "A part of the faculty is located in Falconer, across the courtyard, and the community wasn't being fostered, so we developed this idea of a forum, the central heart of the scheme right next to Flavelle House. The main entrance of Flavelle leads under the house to a large central space to a skylight, and from there, it springs off to a new crescent wing, to take advantage of the site, to hug Queen's Park Crescent, we're as close to the property line as we're allowed to be there."

Though there have been some slow-downs related to what Boxer refers to as the "surgical" demolition required, he expects the job to be finished within two years.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Michael Boxer

New Ryerson building shaping up to be a lively addition to Yonge

Ryerson's oddly named but Snohetta-designed Student Learning Centre is fast taking shape, with work just completed on the seventh of nine floors. Though calling a campus building a student learning centre is like calling a wing of a hospital the patient care centre, the SLC is obviously going to be among Yonge Street's most aesthetically distinctive façades.

Snohetta, the Norwegian firm in charge of re-imagining Times Square and rebuilding the Alexandria Library, has created a building with a sneering, upturned lip for a corner entrance, and a snowy glass skin that sets it apart from its glass-centred condo neighbours.

When finished in January, the building at 341 Yonge – on the site of the old Sam the Record Man -- will be 155,000 square feet.

"Student facing services such as academic supports - access, math, writing, test centres and English Language and Learning Success Services - will be moving into the SLC from their current locations around the university," says Ryerson public affairs rep Michael Forbes. "The DMZ and library administration will also have a presence in the new building."

When asked about the building's generic name, Forbes said, “Currently, Ryerson students do not have a dedicated space on campus. We've designed this building to create a space specifically for students to study, collaborate and create."

Writer: Bert Archer

Ryerson's new architecture gallery seeks to bridge academy and public

Ryerson’s got a new architectural gallery.

Designed by Gow Hastings Architects, the small (3,150 square foot) space occupies an old storage area just off the main entrance of Canadian master architect Ron Thom’s Department of Architectural Science at 325 Church Street.

“The brief was to provide a flexible gallery space to mount a wide range of changing exhibitions," partner Valerie Gow says. "It was to provide a new learning space for the architectural students and simultaneously connect the public and architectural community to the building."

Built for $465,000, work on the Paul H. Cocker Gallery was begun in the summer of 2012. It’s most striking features are its three oversized glass pivot doors, and the thin white floor tile that serves to distinguish the space from the rest of the building’s lobby, and also doubles as a potential display space.

Gow Hastings specializes in educational spaces, and had renovated studios and offices in the Thom building before this latest commission.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Valerie Gow

Architects gather at Ryerson to discuss their changing role

As anyone who looks at Toronto's new skyline will be able to tell you, architects are not what they used to be.

"Architects used to be a profession that was all encompassing, from the broadest formal and aesthetic things down to technical details," says Alex Bozikovic, the Globe and Mail’s new architecture critic. "Architects are no longer in the driver seats, even on projects where their input is valued."

Architects are now just members of committees, Bozikovic says, along with developers, engineers, and often whole groups of consultants on things like acoustics and lighting. Though we praise or blame the architect when the building is complete, she can be as much a victim of circumstance as we bystanders.

Understandably, students of architecture are concerned. Which is why the master's degree class of 2015 has organized a rather nifty talk, not on the future of architecture but on the future of architects, which Bozikovic will moderate.

Speakers include practitioners and teachers from Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and U of T, as well as Jonathan Mallie, a principal at Shop. Bozikovic is especially impressed with how Shop put together the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

"The façade is a very complicated series curving steel panels," he says. "These were made in a shop somewhere else, fabricated using digital specs that Shop created. Each panel was given a specific ID and they were able to track production and delivery using an iPhone app Shop built for this purpose."

By pursuing such avenues, Bozikovic thinks architects may be able to get back the care that used to go into every aspect of a building, from plaster work to pilasters, while maintaining the efficiencies created by the current Mechano-set system of mass-produced modules being put together in limited numbers of ways across increasingly generic buildings.

"The current era in architectural design is a real paradigm shift," says Lee-Ann Pallett, the lead student organizer of the symposium. "I think that really not since architects came into power has such a paradigm shift occurred. The advent of digital technologies is affecting not only the delivery of materials but the organization of firms. They’re creating a change in the industry, which is something we want to discuss from a critical standpoint."

The symposium, which is aimed at students and building professionals, will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Design Exchange from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Alex Bozikovic and Lee-Ann Pallett

Mississauga gives U of T $10 million for innovation centre

After 12 years on the back shelf, the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus is going ahead with a new "innovation complex."

"The Innovation Complex is a new facility that will house UTM's signature Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI)," says Deep Saini, principal of UTM. "The Institute is taking a novel approach to management education by offering sector-specific management education. IMI will be focused on educating mission-oriented graduates whose skills are aligned to specific sectors of industry and commerce, and who are deft at translating novel ideas into innovative applications for the society’s benefit.

"In addition to strong undergraduate programs in commerce and business administration, IMI also offers established and new professional graduate degrees in key economic sectors such as biotechnology, health care, professional accounting and environmental sustainability. UTM plans to grow student enrolment in IMI by 35 per cent – or by 700 – and hire approximately 30 new professors from around the world. Some space in the new building will be also occupied by administrative and academic offices, especially those involved in enrolment management."

The project is being funded by $25 million from U of T and a newly announced $10 million from the city of Mississauga.

The centre, which is being built on an open space behind the existing Kaneff Centre, will be headed up by Professor Hugh Ganz.

Writer: Bert Archer    
Source: Deep Saini

U of T unveils plans for newfangled engineering building

The proposed Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship at U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering was unveiled Oct. 29. According to one of its biggest proponents, it represents a great leap forward in the often retrogressive world of engineering education.

Designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects in Toronto and the UK’s Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the new building -- estimated to cost considerably more than the $50 million already raised for it – is meant to encourage students to learn from each other as much as from the lecturers.

The 500-student auditorium will be the centrepiece as well as a model of how the school intends to conduct its teaching in this realm. Professor Emeritus Ron Venter, former chair of mechanical engineering and a consultant on the current project, explains.

"Normally the seats are next to each other, and the lecturer stands in front," he says. "We are trying to build the lecture theatre so it will still be tiered, but instead of the seats being one next to another in rows, the rows aren't there. What you've got are tables, a work surface with six students or four students being able to sit around, to discuss things in groups. You can lecture, but the group has a dynamic going on on its own. Then that group can interact with the lecturer. Everything is electronically connected, so if you've got a laptop on your table looking something up and find something that's pretty good that supports what the concept is of the lecture going on, you can, with the lecturer's approval, be beamed onto the Jumbotron at the front."

Another novel concept is the "alumni attractor" rooms, conceived as a place engineering alumni can hang out with current students, do some of their own work, and casually mentor the next generation.

If Venter’s optimistic timetable were followed, ground on the new building, to be put up next to Simcoe Hall on land that's currently a parking lot, would be broken next fall, with completion set for December, 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ron Venter

George Brown tops off Green Building Centre

The Green Building Centre at George Brown College’s Casa Loma campus celebrates its topping-off this week, having reached its full height on the way to a March, 2014 completion.

And perhaps not unsurprisingly for a building that’s part of the college’s Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies, things have been going pretty smoothly.

“I've been waiting for shoes to drop," says the school’s dean, Nancy Sherman, “but as far as we can tell, everything’s going according to plan.”

The $4-million renovation and construction is part of a $13-million school overhaul, including $3-million in new equipment. When the renovation and expansion began, the school had 3,000 students. This includes $6.6 million in federal funds from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative. By completion, the building should be able to accommodate 5,000.

With the extraordinary amount of construction going on in and around the city, the school is in particular demand and has been for sometime. The current expansion is meant to take a bite out of what Sherman describes as fairly substantial student waiting lists.

The centre was designed by KMA Architects and is being built in conjunction with MHPM property management.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Nancy Sherman

U of T releases new design for architecture school at One Spadina Crescent

It turns out, One Spadina Crescent, the big 19th-century building Spadina curves around just north of College, was never completed.

The University of Toronto School of Architecture is going to change that.

The school's Dean, Richard Sommer, announced this morning that U.S. architect Nader Tehrani has designed an addition to the north side of the building, which will be built in conjunction with thoroughgoing renovations to prepare the building to be the new premises for the expanding architecture school, the country’s oldest.

"It's one of those early buildings in the history of the city, like Upper Canada College or the provincial legislature, that was a kind of a frontal building, positioned to face the lake," Sommer says.

"It was a U-shaped building, what we call in architecture single-loaded. The north end of the site was never developed, and over time it just got filled in with stuff. Before it was even [the] Knox Theological Seminary and later college, it was built as a prospect for wealthy landowners. That was the original function of that circle. Then the seminary took over and had a building facing south."

Sommer says there have been a number of additions added haphazardly to the north of the building over the years, which will be demolished.

"The project is part of making design and city-building front-and-centre for the city of Toronto," he says.

John Daniels, of developer the Daniels Corporation, and his wife Myrna have given another $10 million towards the project, in addition to the $14 million the couple gave in 2008 that triggered the renaming of the architecture school in his name.

Daniels graduated from the school of architecture in 1950.

"I would compare the Daniels benefaction to what Alfred Taubman gave to the University of Michigan more than a decade ago, and which completely transformed its prospects," Sommer says.

Some excavation of hazardous materials has already been done, and Sommer hopes that if the rest of the fundraising goes well, the entire project will be completed within three years.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Richard Sommer

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

David Mirvish proposes 3 new Gehry-designed towers

In the midst of the most crowded condo market in the world, David Mirvish has made a bet that Frank Gehry can make his proposal rise above the rest.

That, and the fact that he is proposing the city's first full-blown condo cultural centre, with a major new art museum and a new campus for the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Early skepticism concentrated on the demolition of the Princess of Wales Theatre, which Mirvish built in 1993 to accommodate a production of Miss Saigon. But at a well-attended press conference at the AGO on October 1, Mirvish did a credible job of laying money-grab fears to rest by reminding the crowd that architecture is also an art.

"I do theatre, I do art, and I'm interested in saying who we are as a people through architecture," he said at a podium set up in front of a wall full of sketches and several early models of the proposed two-podium, three-tower proposal. "Having theatres that are not full all the time is not better than having art galleries." The proposed 60,000-square-foot gallery would house Mirvish's private collection.

In a speech that referred to artists Frank Stella (who was in attendance), Ron Davis and Gaudí, Mirvish told the press that he had spent his life travelling, looking at paintings and architecture, making the proposal sound more like an ambitious art project than a development deal. "I am not building condominiums," he said in what has already become the most quotable quote from the announcement. "I am building three sculptures for people to live in."

Gehry spoke after Mirvish, revealing, among other things, that we might have had several more Gehry buildings in Toronto, the architect's native city, but he had been beat out repeatedly in competitions and calls for proposals by Jack Diamond.

These buildings, he said, would "connect to the John Street cultural corridor, which is a great idea. As a kid, I used to go up and down John Street, and to think of it now as a major cultural corridor is exciting. I hope, I pray, it happens."

The proposal will now begin the approvals process, and if everything goes perfectly smoothly, which it rarely does, the towers, between 80 and 85 storeys each according to the current design, would be ready for residents by 2019.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Mirvish & Frank Gehry

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

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