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2005 11 18
Building the ROM Crystal - Status 16
The Crystal continues to evolve. Soon the external envelope will begin wrapping over the internal structure. Visit the site soon if you're a fan of steel girders.

In today's Globe John Bentley Mays wrote a compelling article about the ROM's lost tower. While I don't necessarily agree with his take on "NIMBYism" in this case, Bentley Mays' article got me thinking about James Surowiecki's book THE WISDOM OF CROWDS and how Surowiecki's theories might apply to this situation.

"The Wisdom of Crowds" discusses how crowds can often be more accurate than individual experts when making a decision. For example, crowds at a local market guessing the weight of a cow are more accurate than individual estimates by cattle experts.

Applied here, the 350 or so people who came to express their displeasure with the ROM's tower, we could argue, provide a statistically accurate sampling of the relative worth of the proposal. Culture is not a cow, I can hear people saying, and there has to be room for things that push the envelope of cultural acceptance. I agree. But the ROM provides a unique case study. One the one hand, these same types of people supported what is truly a radical and conceptually different addition to the ROM's main building, one that breaks all sorts of cultural norms for Toronto.

One the other hand, the crowd that gathered to deny the ROM permission to build the condo tower were not making a cultural statement, if this argument is correct. They were talking about other factors like density, site-lines, and the ability of the rich to buy up property made valuable by years of public investment. So it is important to separate the two concepts.

I'd be interested in hearing your take on the story.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 11/18 at 03:26 PM

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