A growing number of TORONTO companies are cutting back on suburban office construction, and regrouping in the city’s expanding urban core. Says David Gerofsky, president of FirstGulf Development Corporation: “The biggest reason by far is the ability to find young talent and to retain employees. It’s related to the fact people aren’t happy with the long commute. Young professionals want to live downtown because it’s an exciting and vibrant place.”
QUOTES OPPOSITE - Blake Hutcheson, president of Oxford Properties
The big move began with telecommunications giant, Telus. Their 30-storey building, just south of Union Station, holds 1600 people, consolidated from 15 offices across the Greater Toronto Area. The Royal Bank of Canada Centre is a few blocks over on Wellington Street West. SNC-Lavalin set up shop on King Street East, near the new Coca-Cola headquarters (with 400 employees). Coke checked out 50 locations across the GTA before settling on the Downtown East Side.
A Peter Dickinson 50′s modernist box at 111 Richmond Street West, is being totally renovated into Google Canada’s headquarters. Oxford Properties is spending more than $100 million to rebuild the adjacent Richmond-Adelaide Centre. Blake Hutcheson, president of Oxford Properties says “We are huge believers and huge bettors on the core becoming more and more prominent.”
PHOTOS BELOW - 1, 2) Google Canada Headquarters, 111 Richmond Street West 2) Telus Headquarters 3,4) Corus Entertainment, waterfront, photo - Richard Johnson 5) Royal Bank of Canada Centre, Wellington Street West
TORONTO’s multiplicity of architects, designers and urban planners get much deserved recognition when the annual Urban Design Awards are announced. A few of this year’s Award of Excellence recipients: 1) Housing Co-op, 60 Richmond Street East 2) Salvation Army Harbour Lightbox, 160 Jarvis Street 3) West Toronto Railpath 4) Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, scrapped by the Ford administration 5) Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West 6) Shops of Summerhill, 1099 Yonge Street
Inspired by the graffiti paintings of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the subway chalk drawings of Keith Haring, TORONTO City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been working behind the scenes to revolutionize the downtown streetscape.
The Ward 27 Councillor has convinced one major developer – Diamond Corporation – to spruce up hoardings around construction sites and get some art up there. Diamond contacted a children’s arts group, offering to supply materials, and the kids (ages 6-13) jumped at the chance. The result – a massive mural at the corner of Wellesley Street East and Sherbourne, and a big writeup with pictures in the Weekend Star.
Ms Wong-Tam: “For a city so rich in arts and culture, I’m always surprised to see how little there is in terms of public art. And when you have an entire block wrapped in hoarding board, sometimes for three, five, seven years, well, it’s done absolutely nothing to inform me as a resident; there’s no interaction.
“The construction hoarding is an excellent venue, otherwise what do we look at? Post no bills signs? Public art adds a poetic note to our every day; it draws our attention to things that people might otherwise overlook. I’m already in talks with another builder at Yonge and Bloor. This is only the beginning.”
TORONTO has 9 fully operational streetcar lines. Some are several kilometres long, and are vital parts of the city’s public transit network. For visitors, taking a trolley ride is an excellent way to see neighbourhoods of every description. PHOTO - City of Toronto Archives
When TORONTO’s subway opened in the 1950′s, a distinctive lettering style was used exclusively throughout the system. “It was as if it was designed by an engineer and not a typographer”, says type and graphic designer David Vereschagin.“To see the Toronto Subway lettering fall into disuse and being absolutely eradicated is really sad.”
Edmonton-born Mr. Vereschagin began a project in 1999 to resurrect the typeface and ensure its continued existence. Several examples are in the collection of Dominion Modern, a non-profit charitable organization founded in 2003. Lacking a permanent gallery space, this volunteer organization mounts pop-up exhibitions, maintains a website, archive and an oral history project on Canadian architecture, engineering and design. It’s in TORONTO.
PHOTOS - 1950′s era stations, City of Toronto Archives