FIRST REPORTED HERE ON FEBRUARY 22/2019, U OF T’S PLAN FOR ‘GATEWAY’ JUST MIGHT HAPPEN – UH, OH!

February 22, 2019 – The University of TORONTO plans a ‘gateway’ addition to Downtown’s Cultural Corridor. It’s under consideration by U of T’s governance, and could replace the former McLaughlin Planetarium, closed in 1995.The architects are Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who were behind New York City’s High Line & the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.The project will be home to the School of Cities, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, the Institute of Islamic Studies, the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and the Archaeology Centre. It will also provide facilities for the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Music.A recital hall with a large window will look out on the Toronto skyline. Above the hall – there’ll be a 400-seat event space with similar skyline views. A café will be opened on the ground floor and the designers will include a multi-storey atrium leading up to the recital hall.  <Renderings by bloomimages, courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro>OBJECTIONS are piling up, now that development is a real possibility. One of them comes from Ross Winter, B.Arch, M.Arch, MCP – “The Robarts Library (aka ‘Fort Book’) was a notable example of an inappropriate building thrust upon the community by the University of Toronto – inappropriate in form, scale, and materials.  Efforts are only now being made to humanize or better integrate it with its surroundings . . . “This proposal is fronted by Queen’s Park and backed by Philosopher’s Walk, meaning it will stand out like a sore thumb and not be absorbed into adjacent streetscapes.    The design here is overwrought and the site overbuilt. I urge the decision makers, at all levels, to reject the proposal.”

THERE’S STILL REAL MONEY IN TORONTO REAL ESTATE. INTEGRAL HOUSE SELLS FOR $18,000,000.

One of the most famous houses in TORONTO and North America has just sold for $18-million, along with a $13-million home in Forest Hill, and a $9-million condominium in Yorkville. In this pandemic market, these would seem to be all positive signs. Integral House was commissioned by the late mathematician and musician JAMES STEWART. Five storeys tall, it was finished in 2009, built into the side of a Rosedale ravine. It cost around $24-30-million to build, plus an additional $5.4-million for the original home which was torn down. GLENN LOWRY, director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, calls the house “one of the most important private houses built in North America.”  The 18,000-square-foot curvaceous home has 5 floors, a concert space, a stairwell ensconced in handblown blue glass, and heated limestone floors. It took six years to build. The concert space seats 150. Small theatre groups, music festivals, dance companies and fashion designers have all used the house for fundraisers and/or concerts.  JAMES STEWART passed away on Wednesday, December 3/2014 from a rare form of cancer. “My books and my house are my twin legacies. If I hadn’t commissioned the house, I’m not sure what I would have spent the money on,” he once said.  <INTERIOR PHOTOS by James Dow, Edmonton, Alberta>

THE NORWAY MAPLE VERSUS THE SUGAR MAPLE – THERE’S A DIFFERENCE

Little did we know when a Norway Maple seedling began to grow into a gigantic tree. It’s a beauty, but has been hollowed out three times at considerable cost. We also have two more Norways in the front of our house. They were planted by the city, and have also been cut back. I spend half the summer sweeping up seedlings.North America’s Sugar Maple is another story.  It has pride of place on Canada’s bank notes, and the Canadian flag. The Sugar Maple has three wide lobes (or main points), each with a few irregular wavy teeth, plus two one-point lobes near the stem. The Norway Maple’s leaves have seven lobes.

SPEED DEMONS BEWARE – TORONTO IS ON YOUR TAIL, ARMED WITH PHOTO RADAR, FROM JUNE 29TH

We had photo radar once, but then Progressive Conservative premier, Mike Harris, cancelled it, saying it was a cash grab. Well folks, it’s back tomorrow (Monday, June 29) at 50 locations around TORONTO. The cameras will capture an image of speeding vehicles, and the owners will get a ticket in the mail. Anyone driving over 49km/hour will be hit with a whopping fine of $718.Indirectly, the coronavirus can be thanked for this. The virus cleared traffic off TORONTO’s major streets and boulevards – which seemed to be an open invitation to drive as fast as you can. Do it this coming week, and the city will reach deep into your wallet. It’s about time.