CONCRETE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL – OFFICE BUILDING, 180 BLOOR STREET, DECEMBER/2015

<PHOTO – Vic Pahwa, City of TORONTO Archives>

THE PARKSIDE STUDENT RESIDENCES ARE ABOUT TO ADD SOME COLOUR TO TRAFFIC-HEAVY JARVIS ST.

The Residences are housed in a former 1970’s-era Brutalist hotel, not far from the University of TORONTO, OCAD University, George Brown College and Ryerson University in or near downtown. The precast concrete building now provides beds for 620 and several communal spaces – a gymnasium and cafe among them. <PHOTO ABOVE – Lisa Logan/Contactdesign.com>

Knightstone Capital Management enlisted TORONTO-based Diamond Schmitt Architects to “establish a dialogue with the previous architectural character of the building,” says Bryan Chartier, DSAI’s director of interior design.

Coming this summer – a brightly coloured mural by Spanish street artist OKUDA, on a blank eastern Parkside wall, facing traffic-heavy Jarvis Street at Carlton. The project is a partnership between STEPS (a public art-funding charity), the City of TORONTO’s StreetART program, and Parkside’s property owners. The city will provide $50,000 as part of its Graffiti Management Plan.

For OKUDA’s biography and more examples of his work go to http://www.streetartbio.com/about-okuda-biography

MERRIL RESEARCH COLLECTION OF SCIENCE FICTION, 72,000 ITEMS, IS ONE OF THE PLANET’S LARGEST

Housed in the state-of-the-art Lillian H. Smith library at 239 College Street, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, is made up of 72,000 items.  A gift to our city from Judith Josephine Grossman (1923-1997), pen-name Judith Merril, this archive is one of the planet’s finest popular culture collections.  Its focus is science fiction fantasy, speculative fiction, magic realism, experimental writing, parapsychology, UFO’s, etc.

“Judith Merril was not only a vital member of the literary community, but a vital person in the largest sense of the word.  She lived her times and places thoroughly and enriched us all.”  <MARGARET ATWOOD>.  A founding resident of TORONTO’s Rochdale College, television broadcaster; magazine, book and short story writer; anthologist, activist – Judith Merril was all of these and much more.

American-born, she became a Canadian citizen in 1976, and spent 40 years writing about and researching science fiction and the paranormal.  A book on the life and times of Judith Merril – “Better To Have Loved . . . ” – is available on Amazon.

A BRITISH LIBRARIAN PLANTED THE SEEDS FOR TORONTO’S PRE-1910 CHILDREN’S BOOK COLLECTIONS

The OSBORNE COLLECTION OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS (BEFORE 1910) began with a visit from British librarian EDGAR OSBORNE. He was greatly impressed by the range and quality of children’s services within the TPL (Toronto Public Library) system.

OSBORNE donated his personal collection of some 2,000 rare books in 1949. The numbers have grown to over 80,000 rare and notable modern children’s books. Now there are several collections within the collection.

The oldest artefacts date from 2,000 BCE; others include a 14th century manuscript of Aesop’s fables, 16th century school books; Florence Nighingale’s childhood library; Queen Mary’s children’s books; penny dreadfuls, chapbooks, Puritan works, and fifteen-century traditional tales

Lillian H. Smith library is located at 239 College Street, not far from the University of TORONTO.

AFTER A 30-YEAR SEARCH, MASSEY HALL’S BACH & BEETHOVEN WINDOWS HAVE BEEN FOUND

<PHOTO – @The York Pioneers>. Massey Hall’s Bach and Beethoven have been found in the basement of Roy Thomson Hall. The two stained glass windows were there all along, both in need of restoration by architectural historians from GBCA Architects.

On opening night, June 14, 1894, about 100 stained glass windows were in place around TORONTO’s brand new concert hall. Twelve composer portraits were the most expensive, painted by hand in lead, enamel, glass and silver. They were all lined up on the main floor – the ‘12 apostles of music’.  The 100 windows comprised the largest collection of commercial art glass in Canada, not in a church.

Handel, Haydn, Beethoven and Bach were removed in the early 20th century to make room for emergency exits. Then Beethoven and Bach went AWOL in 1991. They turned up this year after an extensive search.

In July/2018 the Hall will close for two years after a week of concerts by GORDON LIGHTFOOT. The interior will be refurbished; stained glass windows re-installed; there’ll be a new building at the rear; expanded loading docks, two new performance spaces and a small museum.  The lower level bar, which features the photographic history of the building, will no doubt remain intact.

<RENDERING – the new Massey Hall, as it will look in September/2020>

TORONTO & SAN FRANCISCO ARE TOUGH NUTS TO CRACK WHEN IT COMES TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

<QUOTE – Christine Mountsteven/TORONTO>. Two downtowners, about 2500 miles (4,000 kilometres) apart, set out to find living space they could afford. Both succeeded – one of them 24-years ago, and the other in 2018. Each is thrilled to be living in the centre of it all.

Now 83, CHRISTINE MOUNTSTEVEN, former teacher and member of a co-op, landed a two-bedroom suite not far from the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1994. Her modest rent allows for a high quality of llfe thanks to pensions and subsidized housing. Discovering something like this today would be like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. <PHOTO – Vince Talotta, Toronto Star>

An Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario has just been released. It’s a partnership between the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association & the Co-operative Housing Federation and makes these recommendations: the creation of 69,000 new affordable rental homes over 10 years; 30,000 units for those with addictions & mental health issues; financial support of $10,000 for each of the existing 260,000 social housing units over 10 years; and rent supplements or income support for 311,000 households.

PHOTO ABOVE by Kevin Van Paassen/Globe and Mail – TORONTO’s Regent Park (shown in 2005) is an example of what can be done. Total redevelopment has been happening there for about 10 years – mixing market-value with affordable social housing, and building a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, a high-tech playground, a running track, ice rink, theatre centre, soccer fields, a new community centre, outdoor art, a supermarket, bank, coffee shops and parkland.  The Regent Park Project has brought forth a new downtown community. Funded by the city, province and federal governments, redevelopment there continues.

ADRIAN CARATOWSA’s struggle to find his way through the labyrinth of SAN FRANCISCO’s 2018 lottery system – after years of trying, has come out a winner. He now has an apartment he loves, near the Financial District, in the thick of it, and says “To be able to look down on this chaos and not hear anything, and then to open the window . . . I love the sound. This is so downtown.”

Before managing to get his apartment, Mr. Caratowsa, 31. admitted he would walk the streets of the Financial District yearning to live there, “seeing people in suits, going to work, they’d have their coffee in hand – to me it was like being a little girl who wants to be a princess and she wears her mom’s high heels . . . “That was me in the Financial District.”

What’s it like searching for affordable housing & entering the SAN FRANCISCO housing lottery? Find out by reading the New York Times’ in-depth article These 95 Apartments Promised Affordable Rent in SAN FRANCISCO. Then 6,580 People Applied.’ – and you’ll find out.

<PHOTO – “Affordable Housing Now!” demonstration in Parkdale, TORONTO; blogTO>