ART IN CONDOLAND
Development mania across the country is marked by eye-catching public art— intended to beautify, and in many cases mandated by law. But what makes for a successful piece of public art? No one, it seems, can quite agree
Right now, it’s a pit. At the centre of Toronto’s so-called Condoland—the band of residential towers that over the past 15 years have transformed a decommissioned rail yard at the city centre into a master-planned community for 18,000 residents—there’s an excavation the size of a city block.
The site is scabbed over with goldenrod, something that looks like thistle and various reedy grasses. Trees there have grown woody, with some reaching almost a storey high in the time the site has sat waiting. Bordered to the west by an artificial-turf playing field and to the east by the patio of a Fox and Fiddle pub, it is an unlikely meadow among Cityplace’s glass-skinned peaks. The City calls it Block 31.
In time for the 2019 school year, if construction goes as scheduled, Block 31 will become the site of two 550-student K– 8 schools (one Catholic, one public), a 52-spot daycare and a community centre with a gymnasium, dance studios and a whole suite of programming functions. There’ll be rooftop gardens, basketball courts and a year-round marketplace. These facilities represent crucial elements of social infrastructure, two decades in the
Jaume Plensa Wonderland 2008–12 Painted stainless steel 12 m high COLLECTION ENCANA CORPORATION, CALGARY COURTESY RICHARD GRAY GALLERY, CHICAGO/NEW YORK PHOTO THOMAS POROSTOKY