ART IN CON­DOLAND

Canadian Art - - Legacy - By Chris Hamp­ton

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

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