1. Globe and Mail: Review of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
2. Globe and Mail: Casey House Back in William R. Johnston Mansion
3. CBC.ca Toronto Council Asks for City Wide Survey
4. Architectural Record: Video-Up Close with the Cover
5. OHA+M Blogspot: Next Steps for Bill 323
6. Toronto Star: Call for City Wide Building Survey
7. Toronto City Council Motions - You can help identify more of Toronto's Heritage Property
8. Spacing.ca: The Ward Musical
9. Toronto Star: Hurrah, Crystal Ballroom at King Edward Re-Opens
10. Photo-documenting theTransformation of the Hearn Ruins
Why our Jane Jacobs world needs a little Robert Moses, too
Everybody likes an underdog. And looking back a half-century at the urban battles of the sixties, we find one in Jane Jacobs: the bespectacled activist standing astride the highway that threatened to wreck her kids’ park. She was the writer who saw the poetry of the polyglot city where everyone looked after each other’s kids, and who, in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, captured “the ballet of the good city sidewalk.” For many progressives, she personifies the small and the bottom-up.
That was nearly 60 years ago, and today Jacobs is on top. Urban planning theory takes her insights to heart. Her name is sung by local activists across the land. But what does she have to teach us in 2017? Do her lessons translate to an era when people, money and power are heading into cities, rather than out of them?
These are some of the questions raised by Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, which is now playing at the TIFF Lightbox. Matt Tyrnauer’s film looks back at that most famous period of her life, before she moved to Toronto, and pits her against her famous nemesis: the “master builder” Robert Moses. It’s a David-and-Goliath story, the imperious civic official against the troublemaking writer from Scranton, Pa.
As a history lesson for the unititiated, the film is a winner. Moses looks and sounds like a B-movie villain, and in life he was an extraordinary figure: Never elected, he reshaped the continent’s most important city over a 50-year career. He held up to a dozen city and New York State positions at a time, coming to personify the blend of big government, business and Modernist planning that produced “urban renewal.” Cities everywhere followed his example. Montreal’s sixties expressways and office towers, and the razing of Halifax’s Africville, bear the mark of Moses.
Jacobs, of course, opposed it all. The absolute commitment to the car; the contempt for urban dwellers, particularly people of colour, who dared to complain about their “slums” being reshaped; and the blind faith in credentialed planners and their grand schemes.
In that context, she was right about almost everything. She emphasized a mix of uses – stores and homes and schools and offices cheek-by-jowl; the value of old walkable city blocks; a diverse population; and lots of people. She argued for bottom-up planning and listening to the wisdom of those who knew a city best: its people.
A big red home to match Casey Houses big red heart
Those who know Casey House, Canada’s first stand-alone HIV/AIDS hospice, know that their logo consists of an open door and a big red heart.
Now, they’ve got a big red home to match.
If you hadn’t noticed the 1875 Italianate building at the corner of Jarvis and Isabella Streets until now, you’re forgiven. Designed by Langley, Langley and Burke – designers of the Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street West – for wholesale clothing merchant William R. Johnston, the home had been dubbed “The Grey Lady” by locals when heritage-restoration superheroes ERA Architects were handed the keys in 2012.
Behind unkempt shrubbery, battleship-grey paint obscured architectural delights of bright red brick and bands of decorative, pinky-beige sandstone, most of which was in an advanced state of deterioration. Dirty white paint on window frames caused the eye to skip over their delicate beauty. And while Casey House had used the grand old mansion for outreach services upon acquiring it in 2000, they were forced to retreat back to 9 Huntley St. in 2009, where they’d been since 1988, because of safety concerns.
Indeed, ERA’s assessment listed windows and doors to be in “fair to poor condition,” found many areas of spalling brickwork and, inside, documented multiple ceiling cracks, issues of peeling paint and crumbling plasterwork and water damage – all to be expected, of course, but still a tall, expensive order.
Today, however, after years of fundraising, report writing, drafting, power tools, hand chisels and the combined sweat of hundreds of experts, those deficiencies are but a memory as staff prepare to move in, officially, in June. And where there was a small coach house at the rear of the property, there now stands an amazing, modern building by Hariri Pontarini Architects that provides the main entrance to the hospital.
David Shiner pushes for 'heritage survey' that could help save historic buildings
Toronto city council is expected to vote Friday on a series of motions that would direct staff to study ways to enhance protection for heritage buildings.
Councillors will consider three separate motions, including one moved by.Coun. David Shiner proposing that staff study a city-wide survey that would list "all buildings that have potential heritage value."
Shiner's motion asks the "Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to report back to the Planning and Growth Management Committee in September 2017."
Shiner says such a survey would send a message the city is serious about protecting Toronto's historic structures..
"It's saying we have an interest in building. There may be facets of the building or the whole building we want to protect," said Shiner, who represents Ward 24, Willowdale,
Why are beloved Toronto buildings torn down — even when people fight to save them?
Tenants fighting to save 140-year-old home being demolished 'piecemeal'
Toronto's Kensington Market one step closer to becoming heritage site
Currently, there are only two ways to protect buildings in Toronto that may have historical value: an official heritage designation or a conservation district study, which Shiner said require time and effort to complete and can be appealed.
Shiner, who is also the vice chair of the real estate committee, said a heritage list would streamline the system and also benefit developers who would understand the city's explicit interest in a building.
"Anyone who owns it or goes to purchase it knows. And if you do apply for a permit to demolish it or to redevelop it you know we're going to be there."
Shiner's motion inspired by demolition of century-old bank building
Shiner's motion specifically mentions the loss of 2444 Yonge Street, a century-old bank building near Roselawn Avenue, saying the demolition "identified the urgent need to better protect Toronto's built heritage."
There was widespread frustration among conservation and historical associations about the destruction of the beaux arts-style Bank of Montreal building earlier this year.
Linda McCarthy, the vice-president of the Lytton Park Residents' Organization, was in the process of applying to have that building officially designated.
'There's not much left in north Toronto in terms of buildings on Yonge Street.'
- Linda McCarthy, Lytton Park Residents' Organization
But the developer's application to tear down 2444 Yonge St. was approved within the 30-day period required by the province and the developer demolished it.
Editor’s Note: Shiner's is one of three motions, all asking for similar things. The motions come from all sides of Council which suggests widespread support for action.
A little tour of the world's architecture, see how many you recognize before they give you the title.
Probing Bill C-323
The legislation we’ve been following, private member’s Bill C-323, is headed to committee! But it’s uncertain when that will be. The Environment committee is still busy with a major review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The committee is off the last two weeks of April and only has five weeks in May and early June before rising for summer break.
So it may not happen until fall. In the meantime, we in the heritage community should be thinking hard about what to say to the committee — and who should say it — when they hold public hearings on the bill.
There is no question that the principle of the bill deserves strong support. The principle being ... that the income tax system should be used to provide incentives for the rehabilitation of heritage property.
That doesn’t mean everything in this particular legislative proposal is fine and dandy. A too-uncritical stance may not be the best course — either policy-wise or politically. Now is the time to closely scrutinize the bill’s details.
Editor’s Note: Dan has been analyzing heritage policy for over 30 years, it is terrific to have him as chair of the ACO Policy Committee. He will be working closely with the National Trust for Canada and others to develop a submission from ACO.
A better way to protect Toronto
|Bank of Montreal, 2444 Yonge Street-Recently lost|
But, there is another culprit — the City’s woefully ineffective process for the protection of Toronto’s built heritage.
Under the current approach to heritage preservation, we will continue to lose buildings. We need to rethink how heritage is protected in the City of Toronto. We believe there is a better way.
The Ontario Heritage Act has two levels of protection: “listing” and “designation.” A building that is listed cannot be demolished legally without heritage preservation staff having a chance to review it and determine if it merits formal designation.
The problem with Toronto’s current approach is that we’ve concentrated on designating a few buildings at a time, or embarking on years-long heritage conservation district studies and not simply “listing” important buildings, such as the former Bank of Montreal building 2444 Yonge St.
The local branch of the Bank of Montreal, built in 1907, was a significant local landmark designed by the Montreal firm Peden and McLaren. Peden (1877-1969) was responsible for designing Bank of Montreal buildings across Canada in the early 1900s, many of which remain in use as banks today. This building featured a simplified Beaux-Arts style and its construction represented the emerging growth and prosperity of North Toronto during this early part of the 20th century.
The number of other architecturally and culturally significant buildings that have not been listed by the city, and are therefore unprotected, is staggering. One only needs to think of the Stollery’s building at Yonge and Bloor Sts., never listed, and now demolished. Or the Davisville School, currently proposed for demolition, and again, never listed.
What we’ve lost is distressing, but it also spurs us to demand better protection for the important buildings that still stand today. To save Toronto’s built history we recommend the city prioritize a shockingly simple approach: do a survey for the entire city, identify all the potential heritage buildings and list them.
Bizarrely this has never been done; the result is that we lose buildings to wrecking balls even though everyone agrees they are culturally valuable.
Editor’s Note: I was a co-signer to this Opinion piece -- what is proposed would be a massive project, but with assistance from citizens across Toronto, it could be doable.
Three Motions Recommending Staff Report on Feasibility of a City Wide Survey to Identify Heritage Properties
Got this nice note from Michael McClelland this week.
"Great news from City Hall! On April 26th three motions dealing directly with Heritage Preservation will be brought before City Council in response to our Op Ed piece."
Please find links to the motions below:
These three motions will be referred to Planning and Growth Management, unless for some reason 2/3 of Council decides to hold the items and refuse them, which in my opinion is highly unlikely to happen!
As ACO President, I was a signator to the Opinion piece that spurred these three motions. (above) ACO Toronto's TO Built is identified in one of the motions as a place to gather whatever information is out there on Toronto property into a central database. To Built has been a key project for ACO Toronto, one which we developed for just such a task, so it is exciting to see it recognized by Council as a potential support in such an important process.
We are many steps away from implementing a City led, city wide survey, but there is no reason for you not to start putting whatever you know about Toronto property where we can all find it -- on TO Built. You will need to join ACO, which you can do online, but from there you can upload photos, pdf drawings, the names of architects who may have been involved and so on.
ACO Toronto is particularly interested in having architects in Toronto upload what they know, their projects as well as a bit about their firm to TO Built. Every architect has files of drawings relating to past projects which could be placed here.
Whatever the City decides to do about identifying properties, simplifying its listing process to catch a wider number of properties or not, as interested citizens we can help by just starting to share what we know and putting it where everyone else, including Toronto City staff, can see it.
Songs and Sounds of a Lost Toronto Neighbourhood
If you try to imagine your way back into the early 20th century streets and laneways of The Ward — the dense immigrant enclave razed to make way for Toronto’s City Hall — you might pick up the sounds of newsies and peddlers hawking their wares, the clanging of the area’s junk and lumber yards, and shrieking children playing on the Elizabeth Street playground north of Dundas.
Those streets would also reverberate day and night with a jumble of languages — Italian, Yiddish, Chinese. The dialects and accents of these newcomers were considered to be not only “foreign,” but also proof (to the keepers of Toronto’s Anglo-Saxon morality) of the area’s worrisome social and physical failings.
But despite the fact that many mainstream Torontonians saw The Ward as an impoverished blight on the face of the city, the neighbourhood resonated with energy and culture and music — evidence of the resilience of the stigmatized newcomers who settled there in waves from the late 19th century onward.
Editor’s Note: I wish I could attend tonight, and that a theatre impresario picks this up and runs with it......such an interesting way to tell history.
King Edward Hotel
|In its glory, now returned.....|
It’s been empty for 38 years.
And slowly Torontonians began to forget what the Crystal Ballroom in the Omni King Edward Hotel looked like, except for the occasional bride allowed in to take photographs, or the handful of fly fishermen who practiced casting from the balcony.
But on Wednesday the ballroom in Toronto’s first luxury hotel, which once played host to Toronto’s elite, opened its doors to the public once more.
It first opened almost 100 years ago, in 1922; the hotel itself opened in 1903. The 5,000-square-foot space hosted a variety of events, from a state dinner with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the Prince of Wales in August 1927, to performances from some of the great musicians and orchestras of the 1920s to 1940s, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
But that ended in 1979, according to Christophe Le Chatton, the hotel’s general manager, because the room, which sits on the 17th floor, did not measure up to current city codes. And after some time, it fell into disrepair.
“The room always looked phenomenal. It was not stripped of the details,” Le Chatton said. “It just looked tired.” for the rest of the story
For the slideshow of King Edward's Crystal Ballroom restoration
Editor’s Note: Hope this space is in Doors Open this year!
Generation: Designing New Spaces
Jonathan Castellino is a photographer based in the city of Toronto, Canada, and an adjunct architectural photography instructor at the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts. His work has appeared in magazines and journals such as Brick, Image, Spacing, and Now, and has been featured in galleries and on photography websites, including several ongoing series pertaining to his exploration of the city. His main photographic subjects are urban and industrial spaces, within which he explores the intersection of architecture and culture, and of personal meaning and the build environment. While most of his work documents these intersections in his own city, he has pursued similar projects elsewhere in Southern Ontario, New York State and Michigan. Here, he presents “Generation”, shot with the Leica M ( Typ 240).
My photography documents the transformation from space to place. I tend to operate at one speed across all of my work. The attempt is to document the physical and emotional landscape of buildings, as they change with use. Technical accuracy is important, but should always be at the service of creating an image (or series of images) that are organic, and that describe the entire essence of a place within each detail. The idea is to go beyond what something looks like, and show how it feels.