On this pages I want to guide my guests through one of the fields of applied human ingenuity which fascinates me and keeps me inspired all the time.
Architectural Design - is a museum on the other side of our doors with free admission. This attraction is available all day, every day, throughout our lifespan. I do not practice any of this myself, but I do appreciate the work of others and have a desire to exhibit the artistry through my perception.
The pictures you are about to see were captured using my cell phone.
I moved to Toronto from Montreal. The weather that day was gloomy and the impression from the city was too. Few first days I spent traveling around in order to familiarise myself with the new place of living and to get rid of the effect. I would get on any streetcar and ride where it would take me completing the entire circle. General observation didn’t help. Numerous streets in the city look like an abstract canvas that were created by many “artists” with contradictory styles. I had to find an explanation to the awkwardness. Repetitive, mindful viewing helped me to understand the reason and to overturn negative attention to recognition.
Looks like the City of Toronto doesn’t have official regulations that would control interference in the Architectural design of the structures. Following natural urge to “improve” personal state of living populace can do to construction anything according to personal desire, taste and budget. In the life span buildings are going through several unregulated, unrestrained changes, finish up looking awkward and uncoordinated.
Those, who traveled or lived in Montreal would confirm that this kind of chaos is impossible to see in the city. It could be one of the reasons why Montreal is often compared with Europe.
My first picture was an attempt to unpuzzle the feeling of clutter, the following, the desire to possess the images of buildings I like.
I’d like to talk about historical buildings on Queen St. West, the stretch between Spadina and Roncesvalles Ave. and Spadina Ave., the length between College St. and Dundas St. West.
Some facades of constructed dwellings, show that the streets were built somewhere between the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th centuries. Most of the multi storey buildings of this period are varying from two to three levels, essentially built out of red brick. Some have four storey.
Two level houses, mostly built at the end of the 19th century.
Buildings are not too high in stature, long in stretch with few entrances, have small windows, low ceilings and modestly decorated. All indicates that they were purposed for working class mostly.
Modestly designed they have plenty of attraction in fashioned out of brick “fine lace”, which top edges the roof, window openings and entrances. There are two sorts of ornaments; an elevated “lace” in one color or a flat “lace” created by added a contrast color brick. Both styles are equally visible and pleasing for eye.
These senior dwellings take the biggest amount of abuse. We can see the entire structure with one part covered with paint, another buried under the tile or cement, then paint, third part would be totally neglected.
They are the first in line for demolition.
Three storey buildings were built at the end of the 19th and the beginning of 20th century.
Delightful discovery that draw my most careful attention. Red structures have a height of contemporary five storeys, varying in length and amount of entrances. The main characteristics are: very high ceilings, wide variation of stylish window openings and frames. Also, - elegantly decorated with elevated brick-lace, curves, carving or stucco molding , some have stone added in their design.
Ground levels are purposed for luxurious retail business - it is obvious. Second floors in some buildings were used as an office space, if to regard large, half circle windows with stylish wooden frame, for instance 1196 Queen St. West; 324 Spadina Ave.. Top, third level was used as a residence. I am totally guessing here, since never had a chance to be on a second or third floors.
When Architectural Design in Europe and US was progressing in two major directions as so Art Nouveau or/and Art Deco, an Architecture in Ontario, Canada took its own way. Although most structures were built at this particular period, they do not have a classic look of any of the mentioned styles. Thinking of dwellings I can not point surely on any architectural style of this time period. Due to little similarity in ornament of facades some could be related to a Victorian architecture. Few others have elements of Queen Anne style. 1288 Bloor sr. west very much looking like Art Nouveau. These structures are seldomly spread all over the city. I did not see two absolutely identical buildings in this style. Each building is built out of an individual project!
Gems of the City of Toronto are uniquely Toronto Style of mentioned term.
I absolutely fascinated by these magnificent structures. Unfortunately they live a challenging lives, like their smaller neighbours.
Buildings are struggling because of neglect and unbalanced facades due to contemporary elements implemented in an old age designs, for instance 658 Queen st.w. or 1245 Queen st. w. In non-cooperating Canadian weather the most difficult parts to preserve are window frames and doors. Whoever attempts to fix the problem goes for a contemporary “blind” style, almost completely eliminating the frame. The style looks amazing in Richard Mayer’s, Tadao Ando or any other contemporary architects designs, but not in the designs of the end of the 19th and the beginning of 20th century dwellings. Again, the City of Toronto must to take the expenses and restoration in their hands. Restoration has to be done by professionals, who knows wood carving and understands styles of times.
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Many of us payed attention to the Churches in Toronto. Majestic, admirable, well taken care of, sacredly untouched buildings. How many of us noticed that eighty and more percent of their appeal is “hidden” in the windows and entrances design. In the carefully thought, carved out of stone configurations, in florid wooden frames, in stained or paneled, ornate glass. Remove it all and what would be left?!...
At different periods of time were different styles (fashion). Any style would have a specific set of features that would differentiate one style from another, then - one Architectural project from another within the style. No matter time or style, Architectural Design always had, has and will have certain rules. Each Architectural project is carefully thought by architect. Balanced designs lead to the balanced, friendly energy that stabilizes environment. Isn’t it what we are yearning for - to live in a friendly surrounding?!
We love to travel to Europe for the reason of friendly, comforting, warm surrounding. We are perfectly able to create the same environment in our city by capturing the Spirit of the Past and to be no lesser of an attraction for Europeans.
Urgent healing-restoration would bring remaining, more than one hundred years old, historical dwellings back to former glory. Uncluttering - removing oversized, painfully ugly billboards that are sitting like humps on a body of structure. The 1095-97 Yonge st./Price st. is an excellent example when perfectly kept structure of the same period and style holding a successful businesses, without having dreadful billboards attached to it.
The necessary rehabilitation of facades - unifying measures of removing concrete, paint, tiles or any other added unnatural inclusions and “accessories”. Windowstyle restoration.
Exhibiting respect to our history will go a long way. Recovered streets would be the perfect attraction for tourists. Good for business, good for the citizens , good for the city.
The process has been started already by some individuals (CB-2 on Queen st.w./ Bathurst st.). It just needs a speedup by our understanding and support.
I want to call your cautious attention to some more structures that are in need of salvation.
The gorgeous 950 King St.West, Palace Arms, - building was largely modified, Facade covered with unflattering paint. Difficult to be politically correct, but can be purposed differently.
950 King St.West, Palace Arms
The incredible structure on the south/west corner of Ossington Ave./1149 Dundas St.West - abused in all possible ways.
south/west corner of Ossington Ave. 1149 Dundas St.West
I hesitated if it has to be mentioned, but the idea keeps coming back to me each time I am passing the “Transportation Complex”, 1116 King St.West. Complex belongs to the City and located in the heart of growing, dynamic to be area. I visualize this not theatrical, quietly attractive, built in 1955 structure, as a gourmet marketplace. The superb place to have many small, exquisite food boutiques, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants all under one sunroof with grape trees planted under it. Does someone see what I see?
1116 King St.West1116 King St.West<>
I wish to have fewer reasons for pointing on our adverse actions, but looks like something stronger than my will directing me to the apprehensive places.
Lately Toronto is changing in a very fast pace. We are witnessing ongoing and proposed developments.
Land in the city became a goldmine. Gold rush of XXI century brings to the world cheaply built, inhospitable Glass Monsters. They are growing around the city in denial of thousands of years of evolution in Architecture .
The proposal FILE# 10 247063 STE 28 OZ Howard St. and Sherbourne St. will wipe out a big part of the green space and sweep off a numerous historical buildings, all in favor of four towers with heights of 46, 50, 53 and 56 storeys.
The FILE# 12 193918 STE 27 OZ on 592 Sherbourne Street proposing to relocate the heritage building in favor of 52 storey building. Why is this absurd is possible? Because the ridiculous procedure the hundreds of times will compensate the time and the money spent on it. Unfortunately money not just talking, they screaming in the decisions of those who signing the permissions. The question is, - there and how precise the building will be put back together?
The FIFTH CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST on Chatsworth Dr./Duplex Av. is planned to be destroyed for the sake of a condominium building, in favour of those who saw a benefit in “unused” by community territory and had got a permit to get rid of 1950s “historically insignificant” building. Toronto doesn’t really have so many structures with character of this period, to be careless to those that accidentally survived.
Fifth Church Of Christ, ScientistFifth Church Of Christ, ScientistFifth Church Of Christ, Scientist<>
I feel like reminding everyone, myself included; - history doesn`t turn back. Once something is lost, it is lost for ever. Canada is a young country with very little history. I do not wish us to reach times when we will helplessly, painfully regret our spineless negligence.
Moving to the end of the article on an optimistic note...
While working on the project I visited the ”Indigo”, bookstore. Separately set table with a “Toronto” announcing-stand and the amount of books on it confirmed my belief that there are many others who has passion to the city. Like in an art class, - one still life, twenty different approaches, - different authors have different visions and perceptions. Geoffrey James’ introduction to Toronto by Mark Kingwell caught my special attention. The letter format book is in a landscape style. Matte, off-white paper gives to the photographs a warm impression of old pictures with patina. Different sides of Toronto shown in many hues of one colour. It is hard to point out what photographs have on, but they are definitely showing the soul of the city. Soul of mature enough, yet young, full of life woman, who is quietly intelligent, with not so flourishing past, but a promising and optimistic future.
As long as there are people with passion, the city will be well kept for the present residents, for the growing generation and many others to come.
P.S.: The list of buildings I recommend to see with your own eyes:
- Bloor St. West # 926-928 ( absolutely marvelous ), 1288 Bloor St.West.
Bloor Street West
- Queen St. West. # 1087 (windows style), 1247!!, 1376, 1380, 1388, 1408!!, 1420!!, 1424, 1460, 1484
In general both sides of the street, starting from Spadina Ave.
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- Ossington Ave.# 92-94
- College St. # 279, 283, 306, 320, 356, 366!! (modified), 426-430.
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- Spadina Ave.# 221-229, 322, 336, 352, 382, 414, 448, 395-415,
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- Markham St.399/Ulster St.113 until Synagogue (both sides).
I also see them on Queen St. East, Dundas St. West, and Junction area.
All work © Sabina Frank