1. Globe and Mail: 1914-2014 Commemoration at Tower of London
2. Globe and Mail: Toronto's El Mocambo saved
3. Toronto Star: Optimism for Detroit
4. Toronto Star:Toronto's Bloordale--A Main Street Revival
5. CBC: Weston Archaeological Dig Yields 57 Graves
6. Toronto Star: Tax Reduction saves Main Street Business
7. Toronto Star: El Mocambo Sign in Danger
8. AA: The Architecture of David Lynch
9. Toronto Star: Jaime Lerner at Urbanspace Gallery
10. CBC Radio: Talking Starchitecture post Gehry finger
11. Globe and Mail: Gehry Retrospective as new Paris Museum Opens
12. Stratford Beacon Herald:Designation of GTR Train Sheds Delayed
Why London's poppy memorial is so touching
A red flood spreads out before us as we emerge from a door in a wall. Ceramic poppies bleed from the Weeping Window in the bastion wall on the other side, rise in a wave over the causeway, filling the 10-hectare moat of the Tower of London.
Dressed in dark blue tunics with red trim, emblazoned with ER on the front, and high, brimmed hats with a Tudor rose, Beefeaters move through the field, as if on cue. They look like characters from a child’s imagination in a surreal, red landscape. High above us, thousands of people line the moat’s outer wall to witness the living theatre that marks the centenary of the start of the First World War.
We’ve been issued gloves, a red T-shirt with “Volunteer” on the back, a commemorative button and safety glasses. We’ve just watched a video in which a jolly Beefeater – or Yeoman Warder, as they’re called, all of whom are war veterans with at least 22 years of service – has carefully instructed us on how to assemble a poppy, a matter of pushing rubber washers and a stopper on a metal stick, then placing a ceramic blossom on top and securing it with a small cap. With a small mallet, each of us in the group of approximately 200 volunteers will then hammer another life into the ground, commemorating the nearly 900,000 British and Commonwealth servicemen, who died in the Great War. That number includes the nearly 66,000 Canadians lost in the one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.
Dragons' Den star breathes new life into the El Mocambo
He came for the sign, but ended up buying the whole club.
On the eve of its closing, Dragons’ Den star and entrepreneur Michael Wekerle announced that he has bought the landmark El Mocambo rock club and will preserve it as a live music venue.
For months, owner Sam Grosso had been looking for a way to keep open the historic building with its trademark green and yellow palm tree sign, which he could no longer afford to keep afloat. “I knocked on a lot of doors … and the doors kept shutting,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Two blocks from my office.....fantastic to see this landmark cultural venue back in action.
Detroit bankruptcy exit plan approved
A judge on Friday approved Detroit’s plan to get out of bankruptcy, ending the largest public filing in U.S. history.
DETROIT—A judge cleared Detroit to emerge from bankruptcy Friday, approving a turnaround plan that will require discipline after years of corruption, mismanagement and an exodus of residents brought this one-time industrial powerhouse to financial ruin.
“What happened in Detroit must never happen again,” Judge Steven Rhodes said in bringing the case to a close a remarkably speedy 16 months after Detroit — the cradle of the auto industry — became the biggest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.
The plan calls for cutting retiree pensions by 4.5 per cent, erasing $7 billion of debt and spending $1.7 billion to demolish thousands of blighted buildings, make the city safer and improve long-neglected basic services.
In signing off on the plan, Rhodes made a fervent plea to residents who expressed sorrow and disgust about the city’s woes.
The Motor City was brought down by a combination of factors, including misrule at city hall, a long decline in the auto industry, and a flight to the suburbs that caused the population to plummet to 688,000 from 1.2 million in 1980.
The exodus has turned entire neighbourhoods into desolate, boarded-up landscapes. With more square kilometres than Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco combined, Detroit didn’t have enough tax revenue to cover pensions, retiree health insurance and buckets of debt sold to keep the budget afloat.
Editor’s Note: Hurrah....!!! We loved our visit to Detroit. So many interesting things bubbling up in a place where it is affordable to take a chance. Detroit is on its way back.
Bloordale takes back the future
Long-neglected Toronto neighbourhood livens up without succumbing to the sameness that sometimes comes with gentrification.
After the drug dealers move on but before the Shoppers Drug Marts move in a neighbourhood in Toronto can, if lucky, find a modicum of balance that even when achieved is only temporary.
If it happens, it does so at that happy moment when the battle between the forces of deterioration and gentrification, entropy and homogeneity, comes to an end but before a winner is declared.
Right now, the closest Toronto comes to that much sought-after state could well be Bloordale, a shabby stretch of Bloor St. W. that extends from Lansdowne to Dufferin. Until recently, it was the sort of place where the only locals who enjoyed an evening stroll were streetwalkers. Crack sellers abounded as did the casualties of their trade — addicts and hookers.
Artist Dyan Marie moved her family to Bloordale 25 years ago; friends thought her crazy. It took her a while to figure out why. Today, she’s thrilled to be able to say that her ’hood is like any in Toronto.
Editor’s Note: The critical element to main street success is the fine grained pattern of individual ownership, allowing businesses and property owners to re-new in an incremental way. Intensification, as it has been delivered in Toronto, yields corporate sameness. Conservation of Toronto's main street fabric is critical to the creative economy in Toronto.
Dozens of old graves found under Toronto church parking lot
Archeologists have discovered remains of at least 57 people
Archeologists have found dozens of sets of century-old human remains under the parking lot of a Catholic church in Toronto.
St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, which is in the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West area, shares its name with an adjacent elementary school that is due for rebuilding.
Undated photo of old St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
This undated photo shows the old St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, which was originally founded in the 1850s in the old Village of Weston. The image appears to show grave markers behind it. (Weston Historical Society)
The archeologists, who were brought in to do test digs, found the graves of at least 57 people under the parking lot.
Mom-and-pop store saved by property tax reduction
Donny and Sue Lee have been running the Roxborough Smoke & Treats shop on Yonge St. for 12 years.
Donny and Sue Lee’s mom and pop smoke shop on Yonge St. won’t have to shut down.
In April, the Star published a story highlighting a 350 per cent property tax increase that would have forced them out. Following the article, their landlord successfully appealed the assessment and had it reduced by more than $10 million.
Because of the nature of their lease, those savings will be automatically passed on to the tenants, said Rae Buchan, the real estate adviser who appealed the ruling.
“The mom-and-pop store owners don’t have to move out after all,” he said.
The Lees run Roxborough Smoke & Treats, a small convenience store in a commercial strip mall near Rosedale station.
Editor’s Note: This is an important case for Ontario's older building stock. In Toronto where development is running amok, property taxes are set by potential redevelopment value rather than what is actually happening. This puts huge pressure on our older building stock, and the small businesses and creative enterprises that occupy them. To extend Jane Jacobs' thought a bit...New ideas need old buildings---Cities need new ideas...ergo older building stock is very important to the creative economy.
El Mocambo sign for sale on eBay
More than 60 people have already placed bids on the iconic El Mocambo Tavern entrance sign, which unexpectedly popped up on eBay on Monday afternoon.
Posted by co-owner Sam Grosso, the price of the iconic neon palm tree sign was above $10,000 on Wednesday night with bidding to remain open until 2:03 p.m. on Oct. 31. The buyer will also be expected to pay for the cost of taking the sign down and shipping.
Since 1948, the sign has marked the entrance of the legendary club, which was put up for sale in March and will host its last show on Nov. 6.
When Grosso, owner of Cadillac Lounge, and his partner Marco Petrucci, owner of 99 Sudbury, took over ownership of the club in 2012, they restored the trademark sign in an effort to bring the club back to its former rock ‘n’ roll glory. At the time of the sale, Grosso told the Star that he hoped the sign could be preserved.
“I would love to have that sign somehow maybe stay on the building or be moved somewhere else in the city,” Grosso said.
Editor’s Note: This one is in my neighborhood...hoping to keep it here. This morning the Star reported that the sign had been taken down off ebay.....and Grosso is hoping to find a location in Toronto for it.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF DAVID LYNCH Review
On the 23rd of October, there was a huge turnout for author Richard Martin’s new book ‘The Architecture of David Lynch’. The launch event at the AA Bookshop featured the author in conversation with architectural theorist Adam Kaasa, leading to a discussion of not only the book in question but the larger issues around film, photography and architecture and Richard’s ideas about the ‘architecture of film’ as an area of research.
Lerner fights congestion
As the wildly innovative former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil likes to say, the car has taken us as far as it can.
“To me,” says Jaime Lerner, leaning in conspiratorially, “the car is the cigarette of the future.”
Lerner, who served three terms as mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, starting in the 1970s and a couple as governor of the state of Parana, stands among the great civic leaders of recent decades. Not only did he transform the city of 3 million into one of the most desirable in that country, he introduced changes that serve as a model to cities everywhere.
In town to talk about his book, Urban Acupuncture, Lerner remains as revolutionary as ever. Though his ideas are simple, even obvious, their implications are radical: Faced with the question of how to pay to cut the grass in Curitiba’s many parks, Lerner brought in a flock of sheep. When garbage trucks were too big to get through the narrow streets of Curitiba’s favelas, he paid residents with bus tickets to collect the trash. And when the roads of Curitiba grew congested with cars; he took them back for bus transit and pedestrians.
“When we tried to change just a bus stop, we had to fight, so you can imagine what it was like to change a whole system,” Lerner, 76, recalls. “Starting is important; if you wait till you have all the answers, you’ll never begin.
Editor’s Note: A great talk, and a great summary by Christopher Hume....evening marred by the Keesmatt/Murray dust up over Toronto transportation options....not the polite Canadians Lerner may have been expecting!
Frank Gehry: Most architecture today has 'no sense of design, no respect for humanity'
Fiction's most famous architect, Howard Roarke, destroyed his own building. But you don't have to be a fan of the Fountainhead to want to demolish a lot of modern architecture. Which brings us to Frank Gehry, his outrage, the middle finger and the uneasy questions of Ego and Edifice. We're on Starchitects today.
Editor’s Note: Lloyd Alter, Don Schmitt and Elsa Lam talking architecture post Gehry finger to 98% of his profession
Frank Gehry: With a new Paris museum open, the architect is far from finished
Frank Gehry was in Paris, and he was holding court. He’d just finished a day of press to unveil his new museum, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and he was in a celebratory mood. As we sat in the café of a luxury hotel off the Champs-Elysées, friends and admirers – and Pharrell Williams – lingered to shake hands and congratulate him on the building, which is opening to critical praise and warm words from the French establishment. “You’ve got a real winner there,” said an old friend.
“Maybe,” said Gehry. “Maybe.”
Is he really so unsure? At 85, he is unquestionably the leading architect in the world, and the new museum is being hailed by its billionaire patron as a “masterpiece.” And yet. “I’m so fucking insecure,” Gehry told me. “Still. I call it a healthy insecurity; it keeps me going.”
Cooper Heritage Decision Delayed
For full story follow link: Short version
Stratford City Council deferred decision on designation of the GTR trainsheds to the incoming Council. Strong reasons for designation prepared by Heritage Stratford. ACO Stratford very active in support of preservation.