Six projects elevating the city’s cultural profile BY SARA CUNNINGHAM
Six projects putting a fresh spin on seasoned city spaces BY SARA CUNNINGHAM
1 DUE PROGRESS Paris, New York and now, Hogtown. The new Toronto Courthouse is the first project in Canada for the celebrated Renzo Piano Building Workshop, whose resume boasts cultural landmarks like the Centre Pompidou and The New York Times Building. Located on
10 Armoury Street, just north of City Hall, the building’s 20-metre-tall atrium is enclosed by a highly transparent, glazed facade that will create continued dialogue with the city. Another inclusive feature is a new learning centre, where students delve into indigenous history and the intricacies of the Ontario justice system.
2 MINK FOR MILES When your neighbours are Hermès and Louis Vuitton, looking good is a raison d’être. Accordingly, the Manulife Centre, first completed in 1974, is undergoing a grandiose mid-life makeover care of B+H, in association with MDEAS architects. The transformation calls for a chic glass wraparound facade at street level that connects with the existing aesthetic. Retro precast concrete accents, like the tower’s distinct conical shape, will thankfully stay in focus. Meanwhile, the Giannone Petricone-designed Eataly, an upscale
4,645-square-metre Italian marketplace and restaurant, will join a slew of glitzy new storefronts. MANULIFECENTRE.CA
3 CASTLE IN THE SKY The late American artist and furniture-maker Wendell Castle – dashing in bow tie, oval-rimmed glasses and fur collar – beams in front of his sculpture, “Full Moon” (1988), at the corner of Yonge and Bloor. The six-metre-tall clock, created for Hammerson Canada, acts as an archway, time-teller and meeting place for curious passersby. Since his death earlier this year, the post-modern oddity has become a memorial to Castle’s functional art, from his innovative moulded plastic Molar chairs (1969) to genre-bending carved wood furniture that engages walls and floors at once.
4 BENTO TOWERS Celebrities teetering on the red carpet at TIFF will be steps away from Nobu, the luxury hotel, residence and restaurant by the eponymous Japanese chef. Situated on Mercer Street, two mirror-image, 49-storey towers will soar above the former Pilkington Glass Factory in contrast with the Art Deco heritage building below. Chief architect Stephen Teeple likens Nobu’s silhouette, overlaid with a slanting grid pattern, to a “tuning fork in the sky.” The perforated black aluminum frame and tinted bronze windows are sure to resonate with passersby. Another local talent, Studio Munge, brings a slatted wood podium – wrapped around a wish-granting-looking pond – to a central terrace visible only from suites on high. NOBURESIDENCES.CA
5 SOUND GARDEN While it looks like the oyster shell Botticelli painted for Venus, Limelight Bandshell by Paul Raff Studio is more rock ‘n’ roll than Italian Renaissance. Installed in Lee Lifeson Art Park in North York, the steel sculpture is designed to make noise. Taking its name from a hit Rush song, “Limelight,” the bandshell has a parabolic shape (a riff on coastal sound mirrors from the 30s that helped English military guards detect airstrikes) that concentrates and reflects sound. Ringed by the park’s amphitheatre seating, the artwork becomes the focal point for open-air concerts. To complete the look, glass mosaic tiles reflect and absorb light, almost like camera flashes from a nocturnal audience. PAULRAFFSTUDIO.COM
6 ISLA BONITA If you can’t find Atlantis, make one yourself. And so, Waterfront Toronto is creating a thriving mixed-use community, Villiers Island, at a newly formed mouth of the Don River. Over the next seven years, the multi-step Port Lands Flood Protection project, spearheaded by landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, will develop the area with bustling public parks, wetlands and enticing tracts of shoreline, all while protecting the Lower Don Lands from future flooding. Accessible to Torontonians and island dwellers alike, the isle will be dotted with restored heritage buildings that nod to the Port Land’s industrial past, plus recreational spots for everything from kite-flying to in-line skating. WATERFRONTTORONTO.CA
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