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2006 11 30
Is Toronto Ready For Great Architecture?
imageA while back, we reviewed the Teeple/Morphosis Graduate Residence design on the University of Toronto campus. Whenever a discussion about the city's built environment begins, someone inevitably asks, "Well, what do you think of THAT building???" as if it represents the end of good, clean Canadian life as we know it. Good grief. When architects stop inventing new forms and visual languages that is when we will have to worry. Until then, let's embrace the few, great pieces of architecture that come our way.

The original Reading Toronto story on the Graduate Residence follows but we wanted to run an update. Last week Teeple Architects won an award for a residential project here in Toronto. Today, the CBC announced that Morphosis won a 1.2 billion dollar competition to build the highest skyscraper in Paris. The image on the left is a rendering of the proposed building. The CBC writes:
The project is the first in France for the 61-year-old Mayne, whose body of work last year won him the Pritzker Prize, the world's top architecture award.

A rebellious sort famous for employing cutting-edge ideas in his work, Mayne has designed the unique-looking Sun Tower in Seoul, Diamond Ranch High School in Ponoma, Calif., and the University of Toronto Graduate House, completed in 2000.

In a generation the Graduate Residence will, no doubt, be acclaimed as one of the city's great architectural works, signifying a complex, polyvalent age. Until a time when we can all agree on the building's merits, here is what Reading Toronto wrote last year:

Does Toronto Get The Architecture It Deserves?

imageimageSomeone once said that a city gets the architecture it deserves. If that's true then Toronto must have made a karmic error sometime in its history because our architectural fabric is a bit, let's face it, dull. That began to change a few years ago when local architect Steve Teeple teamed up with Morphosis Inc. to design the University of Toronto's Graduate Residence. This building is anything but dull. The oversized text that helps shape the U of T's western boundary causes more than its share of apoplectic rants from Toronto citizens more accustomed to ivy and brick then glass and steel. After all isn't a university best symbolized by a doric calm?

That is not to say this is a perfect building. There is much that an informed critic can take issue with. And many do. But the energy and technical spirit of the building almost single handedly launched a discussion about civic architecture in the city that continues to bring us buildings that we do deserve. These buildings celebrate intellectual curiosity, worldliness, and openness - qualities that represent the best of Toronto.

Photographs by Tom Arban
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 11/30 at 02:58 PM

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