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Building Boom Architectural Quality

I'm not a fan of Toronto's recent architectural boom from an aesthetic perspective. I know this thread is precisely about aesthetics as most consideration on this forum are. I just wanted to point out how disproportionately weighted aesthetic concerns are here relative to their overall importance to how a city functions.

I'm not so sure I agree. Ugliness, decrepitness and unkemptness may be indications that a city isn't quite functioning right... and as for architecture/design specifically we've seen in Toronto that a prevalence of uninspired and/or cheapened design, sub-par materials and obnoxious developments (inappropriate height/density, destruction of heritage, ignoring of urban pedestrian realm etc) also point to problems such as the lack of planning and political leadership in the city, and the general frontier town-type free for all that exists where developers are the dominant force shaping the city rather than policy etc. In many respects beauty is more than skin deep, in other words.


I am far more concerned about people living great lives. Living in the most aesthetically pleasing surrounding is no substitute for an impoverished life. To consider it the other way, that aesthetics are the most important or primary consideration is like looking at the world through the shallow glasses of a narcissist.

Not necessarily. Spaces that are aesthetically pleasing are uplifting spaces. It's a pretty basic human impulse/drive to seek to elevate one's surroundings to one degree or another, and pleasing communities are really just collective extensions of this. I really cannot base it on any solid evidence but my hunch is that if you look around the world you will find that those who live in inspiring, uplifting and aesthetically 'beautiful' places are living better lives, that there probably is a connection on some level. I mean, how often is poverty beautiful?
 
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First of all: good job in taking the initiative to start a thread that many people seem to have a strong interest in. That said, you probably did yourself a disservice in how you presented your initial argument. Presenting a series of buildings that haven't even been built yet to be representative of a boom that's so far lasted 6-7 years is going to cast in doubt your objectivity. Not only do they not presently exist, but they're arguably the 10 best proposals out of the 150+ buildings that have been proposed this building cycle. They're hardly indicative.

Secondly, I think you've missed the crux of 'trixcalhoun's point when making the Sao Paulo comparison. Toronto's built form is obviously taller and of better quality than Sao Paulo, but the point is that north of Queen our skyline resembles a non-descript sea of quite forgettable buildings ... just like Sao Paulo. Cities like Chicago and New York have such buildings too, but they have enough show stoppers scattered about to draw the eye away from the mundane.

Thirdly, is Toronto's architecture banal? You evidently don't think so, but overall I'd argue that it is. Sure we have some gorgeous buildings, but the vast majority of what we build is relatively low brow, monotonous, cookie cutter, and quite forgettable. The proliferation of glass on huge swaths of the core like City Place and now Southcore certainly don't help. A glass tower can do wonders for a neighbourhood, but a whole area like that ends of looking sterile, cold, and completely lacking in charm, character, or solidity. Glass buildings feel so temporary. They don't act as an anchor or give Toronto a sense of place or permanence.

In conclusion, the scale and longevity of Toronto's boom is impressive but it does leave me feeling with a sense of opportunity lost to a degree. The saving grace is that the quality of proposals has steadily gotten better each passing year. What's being proposed today is infinitely better than the typical proposal from 6 years ago.

Let's just say that I'm confident that Toronto is heading in the right direction, but architecture isn't why I moved here. I've actually always viewed it as Toronto's achilles heel. I suppose when you have your main street looking as Yonge Street does, a modern building is a vast improvement. Sure, but that doesn't change the fact that the majority of these new buildings aren't all that memorable, beautiful, or engaging.
 
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Somehow, I'm left feeling that Sao Paulo gets a bad rap. Or at least, it's better from street level than from up above. (Or, it *should* be--if you factor out safety, et al)
 
Secondly, I think you've missed the crux of 'trixcalhoun's point when making the Sao Paulo comparison. Toronto's built form is obviously taller and of better quality than Sao Paulo, but the point is that north of Queen our skyline resembles a non-descript sea of quite forgettable buildings ... just like Sao Paulo. Cities like Chicago and New York have such buildings too, but they have enough show stoppers scattered about to draw the eye away from the mundane.

Most skylines are a "non-descript sea of quite forgettable buildings." Sao Paulo's getting a lot of flack here, but I could easily say the same thing about Tokyo or Seoul or Brooklyn or Berlin or San Francisco or Los Angeles or Hong Kong....

Fundamentally, I'm not sure how exactly a skyline is really very important to anything beyond the post-card industry.

I'm not even disagreeing with you that much of Toronto's condo boom is kind of unremarkable from a skyline perspective, but so what?
 
I have to agree that having pretty buildings is nice but not necessarily a fundamental factor that drives a city's growth or provide an accurate gauge of a city's health. The cities of Italy and Spain are beautiful but does anyone really think they're doing well nowadays (economically)?
 
We do not appear to have a general 'architectural qulity' thread so I post this interesting piece here. It may give us some useful phrases to use to discuss developments here:

https://www.theguardian.com/artandd...buildings-ilona-rose-house-charing-cross-road

I can think of several local examples of ..." buildings whose components seem to have met on a blind date."

The author need to come to Toronto and have a look - he'd claw his eyes out. Components seem to have met on a blind date in the discount bin.

AoD
 
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