2500 subscribers


1. Arch Daily: Bruce Goff Basinger House GONE
2. Blog TO: John B. Parkin
3. Blog TO: John B. Parkin
4. MinnPost.com: In St. Paul, modern buildings could soon become historic
5. Canadian Architect: Reviews on Two Books on Toronto City Hall
6. Cottage Life:10 of Ontario's Prettiest Historic Towns
7. Toronto Star: Once Upon A City: Opulent estate was doomed from inception
8. Ministry of Culture: Draft Ontario Culture Strategy

submit a link


1. Arch Daily: Bruce Goff Basinger House GONE

Bruce Goffs Bavinger House Demolished with Little Warning

The Bavinger House is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of Bruce Goff, an esteemed architect who was once referred to by his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the few creative American architects. Its spiraling form and integration with the landscape was one of the first instances of modernist bio-mimicry.

Originally built along with students at Oklahoma University, the house was damaged by a storm in 2011, after which its status remained a mystery due to its remote, private location and an unknown individual threatening reporters with gunshots.


2. Blog TO: John B. Parkin
Derek Flack

This architect changed everything in Toronto

Conversations about Toronto architecture often focus on the birth of the City Hall and the TD Centre in the 1960s as defining moments in the modernization of design in Toronto. It's tough to argue against the profound influence both of these structures, but it's also imperative to note the pioneering force that John C. Parkin was in making Toronto a modern city a decade earlier.

This process started well before Viljo Revell won the design competition to build a new municipal headquarters in Toronto. In fact, you'd want to go back to 1947 when John B. Parkin and John C. Parkin (no relation) joined forces to start the firm John B. Parkin and Associates. The similar names can lead to confusion, but John C. was the design lead, while John B. ran the business.

While far too many of John C. Parkin's buildings have been demolished over the years, including the glorious Bata Building on Wynford Drive, there's ample evidence of his footprint on Toronto. One of the most significant of these is a small building tucked at 50 Park Rd. in Rosedale.

Formerly the home of the Ontario Association of Architects, the structure dates back to 1954, and caused quite a stir when it first opened for its utter simplicity and unabashed modernism. It doesn't seem like much today, but Toronto hadn't seen anything like it at the time. Still, Parkin was only getting started.

Over the next 15 years, Parkin would change the face of Toronto with such landmark buildings as Rosedale Subway Station (1954), Sidney Smith Hall (1961), the Sun Life Building (1961), Yorkdale Shopping Centre (1964), Aeroquay No. 1 (1965), Don Mills Collegiate (1965), the IBM Canada Headquarters (1967), and the Simpson Tower (1969).

Wouldn't you know it, the firm would also play a supporting role in the design of the TD Centre alongside Mies van der Rohe and Bregman + Hamann Architects. It seems fitting that Toronto's best modern building to this day bears Parkin's name.

Editor's Note: If you want to see photos of his work, enter John B. Parkin in a detailed search on http://acotoronto.ca/tobuilt_new.ph


3. Blog TO: John B. Parkin
Derek Flack

The top 10 Toronto buildings from the 1960s

The 1960s were a massive decade for architecture in Toronto. In addition to the birth of New City Hall and the TD Centre, Brutalism left its mark on the city with grand concrete structures that would inspire designers to reach new heights in the 1970s. In the span of 10 years, Toronto had embraced modern design and there was no looking back.

Here are my picks for the top Toronto buildings to rise in the 1960s.

okeefe centre O'Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre)
One of architect Peter Dickinson's most grand Toronto works, the O'Keefe Centre opened in 1961. Recognizable for its stunning marquee canopy (a smaller version of which could be seen at the Four Seasons Motor Hotel), it now serves as the base of the L Tower.

colonade building torontoThe Colonade
I doubt that many young people find much beauty in the Colonade nowadays, but architect Gerald Robinson's concrete palace near Bloor and Avenue Rd. was a marvel when it opened in 1964. It's aged well, but concrete is no longer as sought after a building material.

yorkdale mall 1960s Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Mall architecture can be as bland as it comes, but Yorkdale was a stunning exception. Completed in 1964, the majority of the mall was designed by John Graham Jr., who's most famous for the Seattle Space Needle. John Andrews also took part in designing the Simpson's department store. Much of the original work has been lost through renovations, but some remains.

university toronto scarborough University of Toronto Scarborough
John Andrews' University of Toronto Scarborough campus was one of the most significant and studied architectural works in this city for decades after it opened in 1964. The Brutalist complex is still considered one of the chief examples of this brand of architecture and is surprisingly human in orientation when you explore the space.

city hall toronto City Hall
This was the building that changed everything in Toronto. The winner of a massive international design competition in the early part of the decade, Viljo Revell's modernist municipal headquarters still looks like it comes from the future.

castle frank subway station Bloor-Danforth Subway Stations
There's an understated elegance to the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line that's easy to spot if you look past the grimy walls and aging signs. Architects John B. Parkin and A. G. Keith provided a consistent design that alternated between five colours of tile and four versions of trim. Station entrances like the rounded one found at Castle Frank have become iconic over the last 50 years.

toronto dominion centre The TD Centre
Surely the second most important building that rose in Toronto during the decade, the black steel of Mies van der Rohe's TD Centre was like nothing Toronto had ever seen at the time. The city's modern Financial District was born with this imposing complex.

20 prince arthur 20 Prince Arthur
Uno Prii deserves more respect for being the pioneering architect that he was. As the Toronto began to see a boom in concrete slab apartment buildings, he injected Googie-influenced style into his buildings, many of which can be found scattered around the Annex today. 20 Prince Arthur (1968) is the cream of the crop, though.

ontario science centre Ontario Science Centre
Raymond Moriyama's Ontario Science Centre is a building that needs to be experienced from both afar and within to get a true appreciation of its best attributes. Despite its sprawling size, from a distance one sees how well it blends into the ravine wall, the topography of which is also used to invite the natural surroundings into the building as one descends each floor.


4. MinnPost.com: In St. Paul, modern buildings could soon become historic
Peter Callaghan

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan - The Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance/Pioneer Press building at 345 Cedar St. in downtown St. Paul.

Even the names given the period and style of American architecture — modern, mid-century modern, international — seem to contradict the concept that such buildings could be “historic.” Many were built to replace, and in reaction to, the brick and stone structures that dominate historic registers.

But as buildings defined by glass, steel and concrete reach the 50-year standard for minimal eligibility, more are being considered for historic status. Now, two buildings constructed during the first attempts to stimulate a moribund downtown St. Paul may be the first post World War II buildings nominated for the honor.

The owners of the two buildings, the Degree of Honor Building at 325 Cedar St. and the Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance/Pioneer Press building at 345 Cedar St., have asked the state Historic Preservation Officer to forward applications for historic designation to the National Park Service. The state has agreed that both are eligible, and the park service has approved the request for the Degree of Honor building. The service is currently considering the request for the Minnesota Mutual building.

The reasons for wanting a building on the register are mostly financial. The federal government offers tax credits — including a 20 percent investment tax credit — for renovating historic buildings. In return, a developer must must follow guidelines on methods and materials and get approval for the work. Because the standards are strict and can add to the cost, however, the tax incentives are often vital in making a renovation financially possible.


5. Canadian Architect: Reviews on Two Books on Toronto City Hall

Danish architects 3XN to design condo tower on Toronto

Following a design competition, real estate firm Hines and developer Tridel have selected Danish firm 3XN as the design architect of their latest waterfront residential project at Bayside Toronto. Joined by 3XN principal and senior partner Kim Herforth Nielsen, the development partners and architect released initial renderings of the proposed condominium last week.

Architect Kim Herforth Nielsen described his firm’s intention to create a vertical neighbourhood, with the family home as its inspiration. “The design puts people first, paying particular attention to the quality of views, space and lifestyle,” he said. “The development will command extraordinary views of the water, neighbouring parks, and the city skyline.”


6. Cottage Life:10 of Ontario's Prettiest Historic Towns
Susan Laux

10 of the quaintest towns in Ontario

We know, we know—Ontario is overflowing with pretty, historic towns. Once you get away from the big cities, it’s hard to travel very far in any direction without coming across lovely Victorian storefronts and graceful heritage houses—so narrowing it down to only 10 towns was pretty difficult.

While it may be a controversial list, we’ve picked the spots that offer that perfect balance between old-fashioned charm, quirky culture, and welcoming community.


Editor’s Note: I say with a certain amount of pride as ACO President, almost all of these towns have or have had an active ACO branch. And there are many, many more, missing are some of my favorites, Meaford, Cobourg, St. Mary's, Stratford, Niagara on the Lake, Hanover, Walkerton, Collingwood, Guelph.....and....

7. Toronto Star: Once Upon A City: Opulent estate was doomed from inception
Carola Vyhnak

Stately Chorley Park is no More

. And with that announcement in the March 17, 1961 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, the story of Canadas most magnificent mansion ended in a heap of rubble.

Built in 1915 for more than $1 million  $26 million in todays dollars  the official residence of Ontarios lieutenant-governor was both vaunted and reviled. The opulent Rosedale estates glamorous early years were spent serving high society as a crash pad for princes and potentates, and host of soirees and charity balls.

But extravagance proved to be its undoing. With unmanageable maintenance costs, it slowly deteriorated and practicality stepped in to repurpose the building as a military hospital, RCMP headquarters then haven for Hungarian refugees. It cost a mere $6,340 to pull down the stone walls 46 years after the showplaces dazzling debut

Chorleys inception was cheerful enough when the province bought the 5.5-hectare site in 1911 to replace the demolished Government House at King and Simcoe Sts.

Its a beautiful location (and) one of the most desirable places & for such a building, the Star said of the wooded natural park overlooking the Don River Valley.


8. Ministry of Culture: Draft Ontario Culture Strategy
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport

Core elements of Ontario

Last fall, the Ontario government launched Culture Talks to start a conversation with Ontarians about the value of culture in their lives and communities to help us develop Ontario’s first Culture Strategy. 

We would like to thank the thousands of participants who shared their ideas and thoughts on what culture means and the many ways they contribute to and take part in culture.

We now invite you to participate in the next stage of consultation by providing feedback on the key parts of the draft Culture Strategy. The draft sets out a vision for culture and identifies three overarching goals to strengthen culture in communities, fuel the creative economy and promote cultural engagement and inclusion. These goals are supported by strategies and actions to guide Ontario’s support for culture so that it continues to grow and flourish in the years to come.  The consultation period on the draft strategy closes on Friday, May 13, 2016. Visit ontario.ca/culturetalks  to find out more and to learn how you can provide feedback. 

Our next step will be to review the feedback we receive. We will then finalize the strategy and release it in June.

We would also like to let you know about two additional documents we have posted on ontario.ca/culturetalks:

  • A Summary of What We Heard from Ontariansan overview of the first stage of consultations held from September 2015 to December 2015, in which we capture the key themes and ideas that emerged during the engagement process.
  • An Environmental Scan of the Culture Sector, a background document that describes key challenges, opportunities and trends affecting the culture sector in Ontario and emerging best practices in Canada and other areas of the world. 

We look forward to receiving your feedback and continuing the conversation.