PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE WITH A MULTI-YEAR REFIT OF THE ROBARTS COMMONS IN TORONTO

The Robarts Commons are named after John Robarts, the 17th Premier of Ontario from 1961. He served there until 1971. The libraries contain more than 4.5 million book items, 4.1 million microform items, 740,000 other ones which kept on growing. He was an advocate of freedoms, and promoted rights of the provinces against initiatives of the federal government. Mr. Robarts is remembered for improving education, being Chancellor of York University, the Ontario Science Centre and Ontario Place – plus the GO Transit railway system, and he introducing nuclear power to Ontario’s electricity grid. Unfortunately his son, Timothy, died of suicide in 1977. John also died of suicide on October 18, 1982. He is buried in Toronto’s St. James Cemetery. Universities and research centres carrying Mr. Robart’s name are impressive. York University, was founded in 1963. Mr. Robarts was Chancellor from 1977-1982. The Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario opened  in 1986 in London.  There are also Robarts School for the Deaf and the John P. Robarts Research Library at the University of Toronto.
Now we come to the magnificent John P. Robarts Research Library, commonly referred to as ‘Fort Book’ at 130 St. George Street, a branch of the University of Toronto Libraries. The new Robarts Commons, a five storey glassed-in addition to the U.of T’s Robarts Library isn’t completely finished, but with the pandemic restrictions it will soon happen. The project is part of a multi year refit to prepare for the future as most libraries are progressing technologically. The University of Toronto’s collections are spread over 42 heavily-used libraries, popular with students. About 20,000 people pass through on a busy day, and some students work at their desks late into the night. The original plans for the Robarts Library, drawn up in the 1960s, called for a pavilion on the west side. Now, almost 50 years since the library was built, the western pavilion is finally being realized. Gary McCluskie of Architects’ Diamond Schmitt says on their website: “When the new Robarts Common opens in the 2021-2022 academic year, the library’s 18,000 daily users will quickly see and feel that the million square feet of the entire library complex are more social, collaborative and human,”

THE WINTER STATIONS, TORONTO, 2022 – AN INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION

The Competition missed a few years during Covid. It asks for temporary structures associated with the lifeguard stations along Woodbine Beach. This year’s theme is ‘Resilience’. Here are three of a larger group of this year’s winners.
Enter Face (MELT, Turkey). The pandemic significantly shifted our perception of the world to digital screens. The two black boxes have outward looking screens so that those inside (for adults, their heads, for kids, their entire bodies) are subtly aware of each other, and together are watching the world outside.
Hive (Canada). Honey bees demonstrate resilience by working in unison in their hive, feeding the queen, keeping warm with their body heat in the winter, colony-level responses. Visitors to this station become, briefly, the Hive cluster, sharing the experience.
One Canada – (Guelph U School of Environmental Design and Rural Development) Our Indigenous people demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity and oppressive policies. The seven levels wrapping around the lifeguard station represent the Grandfather Teachings. The enveloping structure invites a coming together of disparate people in unity through its protective embrace.  <Photos by Ross Winter>

JILL PRESCESKY WAS AGHAST WHEN MAUD LEWIS PAINTINGS WERE STOLEN FROM HER RENTED COTTAGE

The rented cottage once was formerly occupied by deceased Maud Lewis and was on site in Smith’s Cove, near Digby Gut, Nova Scotia. 100-years-old it connects Annapolis Basin with the Bay of Fundy. The paintings are unique, partly because oxen are rare and iconic in this part of Atlantic Canada. The financial appraisal of the work is close to $80,000. Nova Scotia’s RCMP said the cottage break-in was unlike any they’d seen in the area. The Lewis paintings have doubled in value in recent months. International buyers try to collect Nova Scotian folk artist works. Maud Lewis would doubtless have been at the top. Possible thieves are aware of auction values of sharply rising artist works. For sure.
Alan Deacon, a Maud Lewis collector says the rise in value of Lewis’s work may cause some people to sell them fearing break-ins.

BROOKFIELD PLACE IS A FIRST-RATE LOCATION TO TAKE-IN SOME OF TORONTO’S BUSINESS DISTRICT

Designed by Santiago Calatrava. close to Bay Street. and near the corner of Front and Yonge Streets, with the Hockey Hall of Fame in the lower level – that’s part of Brookfield Place. If you’re wandering down Bay or Yonge be sure to go inside and admire Calatrava’s superb architectural success. Stop for lunch at Marche inside and then walk through the giant hallway. Generous space is provided for plenty of spectacular photography.

THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM’S ‘CRYSTAL’ IN TORONTO MAY NOT BE LOVED, BUT AFTER DARK IT’S QUITE FINE

This entrance way addition is all angles of glass and aluminum in a powerful display. Behind The Crystal is the museum, known locally as The ROM. The glass and aluminum seem to jut out of the ground displaying power. It’s in sharp contrast to the stately ROM that has been standing there since 1914.  Urban Affairs writer Christopher Hume was a defender. He once said “It seems to express a desire to bring not just the Museum, not just the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road, but the whole city, into the 21st century without diminishing the past.”

CANADIAN ARTIST, JENNIFER MACKLEM, GOT A SUPER SITE FOR “DRAGONFLY”ALONG A TORONTO EXPRESSWAY

“I love dragonflies and that piece. It intersects philosophically with what we believe,” said Di Lorenzo, president of Mirabella Development Corp., creator of luxury condominiums, and an advocate of environmental responsibility. ‘Motion In Air (Ma),’ longer than a football field, consists of more than 500 custom-printed aluminum panels. It’s become one of Toronto’s most ambitious public arts – facing around more than 100,000 daily commuters on the Gardiner Expressway, along with GO Train passengers on the Lake Shore Line. Artist Macklem, associate professor of sculpture at the University of Ottawa grew up in Montreal – thus ‘Motion in Air (Ma)’.

THE NEW ‘NORTH’ SAINT LAWRENCE MARKET IS GOING UP AND IT’S WELL UNDERWAY.

Lawrence Hall and both the North and South Market buildings have served as landmarks for more than 200 years and remain the most valuable of our city’s historical complexes. Work continues on replacing Toronto’s 1968-built North St Lawrence Market structure.  It’s been wearing out.  The new creation by Rogers Stirk Harbour+ Partners will replace the old former one-storey North structure with new multi-levels. The South building opened in 1845 as Toronto’s City Hall and municipal complex contains a major public market, and in an upper level there’s an art gallery (which may or may not always be open). You’ll find the Saint Lawrence Market Complex, North and South on the southwest corner of Front and Lower Jarvis Streets.  <Photo below shows the completely finished North structure as it will be>

 

I’VE OFTEN WONDERED WHAT’S BEHIND THOSE COLOURFUL FACES IN REGENT PARK – FOUND OUT TODAY

Artist Dan Bergeron created the portrait series, dubbed ‘Faces of Regent Park’, installing them within another park across from Daniels’ Spectrum. The large laminate glass pieces feature mixed-media portraits of a dozen Regent Park residents in vibrant colours, highlighting the community’s diversity.