Saturday, April 11, 2009

Photos of Toronto!

I went on two architectural tours while I was at the annual VRA (Visual Resources Association) conference in Toronto and saw some really terrific buildings and sites! I took about 150 images to add to the VRC's digital image database.

The first walking tour started at the historic Osgoode Hall (Law Courts) right across the street from the conference hotel. The Great Library is in Osgoode Hall; it is considered one of the most beautiful spaces in Canada.

We visited another beautiful space on the second walking tour: Santiago Calatrava's Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place. It was built in 1992 after a competition, and was incorporated into the development of Brookfield Place to satisfy Toronto's public art requirements. It is a soaring space that brought to my mind both gothic cathedrals and a forest of tall trees.

We had the good fortune on the second tour to be able to visit the top floor of Mies van der Rohe's tallest building in the Toronto-Dominion Bank Center. Mies envisioned the 54th floor as a space for entertaining and gathering; it has spectacular views of the city.

Mies furnished the building with red oak paneling from the Mountbatten Estate in England, travertine floors, Barcelona chairs, and woven rugs. The bank has preserved Mies' work beautifully, even through a retrofit of updated mechanical systems.

At the other end of the architectural spectrum in Toronto is the Sharp Center for Design buidling by Will Alsop for OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design). This unusual and colorful building is perched high above existing OCAD buildings in a display of bravado which is quite mind boggling. It is visible from the 54th floor of the TD Bank Center, as is its neighbor, the AGO Transformation by Frank Gehry.

The tour also included a visit to the Le Corbusier-inspired Toronto City Hall, built in 1959-65 by Viljo Revell with John B. Parkin and Associates. This view of the City Hall Complex is taken from my hotel room! The two curving office towers surround the domed council chamber like the lids of an eyeball. The rectangular base for these three elements contains the public space of the City Hall. The base is connected to the Nathan Phillips Square in front of the complex by a series of concrete walkways and ramps.

These images and many more are available in the VRC's digital image database:

I will write more about the VRA conference soon!