Toronto Corus Quay | ?m | 8s | Waterfront Toronto | Diamond Schmitt

Thems' fightin' words


only because I believe that it is now "our time"...we are lucky enough (as skyscraper junkies) to be witnessing some modest kind of a golden age here, where I believe the City of Toronto is embracing a bolder vision of what is possible for it....and this vision has been getting help from a good portion of the world's architectural talent, most of whom seem to believe in our town.

But not these guys (Diamond and Schmitt)...they seem to be stuck in some suburban wasteland bland vision which, imho, just wont cut it anymore.
Its a very vague rendering that to me could turn out as neet as the Centre CDP bldg in Montreal. Can't really tell by that rendering. Let's not get our collective knickers in a knot.
Time to call a spade a spade..Diamond and Schmitt are hacks...and the sooner we are rid of Jack Diamond and his ilk, the better

Wow ... the opera house is a dignified modernist structure and the Hudson is probably the best condo of 2006 - dump Diamond and replace with one of dozen Burka Varacallis?
I made it down to the presentation, but had to leave before the discussions took place. I'd love to know - jayomatic (nice to meet you) and spmarshall (good to see you again of course) - what the tone was during the discussions.

I agree that this is a terribly disappointing building. Why does it only barely acknowledge that it's on the water? Why are we all down at Metro Hall discussing such a boring box? Diamond had the nerve to call the tacked-on lighthousey tower 'iconic', but there's nothing iconic about an ornament that has nothing to do with the building it's attached too. This lighthouse is akin to taking the Christmas Tree angel out of your box of ornaments and leaving it sitting beside the box, no tree. Boy, I'm so glad we got the damn box of ornaments out and left it sitting around.

I'm not one to think of Diamond as a hack. I have always considered Diamond Schmitt buildings to be handsome, if not exactly stunning, but they've stunned me this time. I'm certainly stunned to be asked to ostensibly give input in regarding animating the public space around such a dull building.

Here's a way to animate it: build something engaging instead of just a stupid box that could be absolutely anywhere! If you want to draw people down to the water here, give them something to marvel at! It doesn't have to be cheap, flashy, and tacky, but it does need to have some kind of spirit to it, some kind design. The best Diamond could do vision-wise was somehting like 'as an alternative to a tall building we have a building that reads like two because there's an atrium in the middle to help break it up.' Snore. No vision, no spirit, no imagination, no art, no real evidence that humans were involved in the creation of this thing.

Time to retire, Jack. Let's make your Project Symphony into Project Unfinished Symphony. There's still time to back out unnamed-lead-tenant!

astonished and disgruntled 42
I believe our anger is misdirected and should be aimed instead at tedco.

Absolutely useless organization that needs to be taken out to trash.

"Diamond had the nerve to call the tacked-on lighthousey tower 'iconic'"

If by iconic he means talked about, and by talked about, he means the sort of lousy that will elicit negative comments for years after it's built.
Realizing this plan would be another great opportunity wasted. If you plow through all of the precinct plans and design guidelines produced for the East Bayfront, you'll see that this was always supposed to be a "special use site," with a diagonal build-to line extending from north of Queen's Quay to create a wide, cone-shaped view corridor. The illustrations (creative placeholders - none was a concrete proposal) were always glass pavilions, sliver towers, golden balls - like them or not - something to catch the eye and take advantage of the site's exposures.

But of course, as pointed out above, Diamond never embraced those plans, and collaborated with TEDCO to do an end-run around them a while back. Having lost that battle, they're back, thumbing their noses again at years of careful, gradual work by other imaginations. What's special about this use? What's even mildly interesting about the use of the site?

Although I didn't agree with the most negative of opinions about the Four Seasons Centre, this in-way-over-its-head effort confirms some of them. Diamond's philosophy seems to have devolved into "take a box shaped lot, divide it into sub-boxes, and then fill it to the edges with big box made of littler boxes."

It's not that we never want to see another building made only of right angles. There are a lot of great ones left to be designed and built. This isn't one of them. This is not where to put one.

What this is is just the sort of thing the design review panel was assembled to prevent from getting built, and it will be interesting to see whether they try to take on TEDCO, which, one must assume, loves this, boxes being cheapest and easiest to build, and the single dim eye in it's corporate forehead being blind to anything but crudely scratched $$$.
I agree that this is a disappointment. I think it is important to register discontent with the project. Why and how is it starting so quickly?
From the Post:

How can you comment on a secret project?
TEDCO remains tight-lipped about 'project symphony'
Peter Kuitenbrouwer, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Last night the Toronto Economic Development Corp. held a public meeting to gain public input, they said, into a proposal for a new, 10-storey, $140-million building they want to put up on Queens Quay, at the foot of Jarvis Street.

But how is the public supposed to have any opinion at all? TEDCO won't identify the tenant for the building, for which they will begin excavation in July.

All they'll say about this project, code-named "Project Symphony" like some bad James Bond movie plot, is that it involves a publicly traded company in the "knowledge business," which will run a 24-hour operation on the site, and whose workers will move to the new building "from all over the place."

Jack Diamond, the architect on the job from Diamond and Schmitt, displayed some pretty watercolours of his project, with sailboats on the lake and cranes unloading raw sugar for the Redpath sugar refinery next door; he asked for the public's input.

But about half the 100 people present, in the rotunda of Metro Hall, left after the presentation and didn't stay for the discussion. Small wonder: how can you discuss a mystery?

As the meeting began, Andrew Gray, vice-president of East Bayfront Development at the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp., told the assembled, "I'm going to turn it over to TEDCO, because really this is their show tonight." No kidding.

When the city, province and federal government created TWRC to develop the waterfront, the public was given assurances of involvement in the planning process. TEDCO, the city agency that owns most of the port land, showed again last night that it has another model: it works behind closed doors.

Jeff Steiner, the president of TEDCO, did confirm that he hired Diamond and Schmitt to design the building, without a tender.

"Jack Diamond was assisting us with the Queen Elizabeth Docks," he said. "We showed [the tenant] his work. We asked, 'Do you want to proceed with this architect?? They said yes. There's very little time on the front end to get this done.

"The construction contract will be tendered," he added. "We will have a mix of tendered and untendered."

Mr. Steiner also said that City Council directed TEDCO to go find a commercial tenant for the waterfront site, and, he said, the tenant (with whom he is now negotiating) apparently approached him about the site.

In February, TEDCO evicted Cinespace Studios from Marine Terminal 28, the cargo terminal that had become one of Toronto's busiest movie studios, to make way for the mystery tenant.

Jim Mercopolis, who works for Cinespace, was bewildered at Metro Hall last night.

"I came here to find out what was the rush to kick us out," he said.

"Based on what I see tonight I don't understand what the rush was. They still don't have a deal. The meeting reinforces the cloak of secrecy that follows TEDCO around."

Another participant said he has attended a number of public meetings over the years about this site.

"The consensus about the Jarvis Street Slip was to have an iconic use, such as a museum or a performance venue," the man said.

"If you put a commercial tenant, what's going to draw me down to that site? I want to go down there for something unique and special."

Mr. Steiner responded that no museum or university made a proposal.

And Mr. Diamond only said, cryptically, "Don't assume it won't be iconic."

Jill Hicks, who runs a tour boat on Lake Ontario, said, "You are going to negate 300 jobs that are using that dock wall."

Mr. Steiner responded, "I think the plan is to continue to have waterfront tourism."

Well, Mr. Steiner, I don't want to buy a pig in a poke.

Please don't organize any more "public meetings" until you either (a) have something to announce or (b) care what the public thinks.

© National Post 2007

Citywriter, Luggee, Sir Novelty Fashion: please get on this story! (Or someone, please tell Lisa and Chris what's going on down at Jarvis.)

The public should know what is about to be foisted upon them down at the water's edge, and how and why.

For the record, here are the city appointees to TEDCO:

Joe Pantalone
Michael Feldman
Kyle Rae
Howard Moscoe

If there is going to be any letter-writing to be done, they should be directed to these individuals plus the office of the mayor.

Here is a link to the TEDCO board of directors:


Hume already know about this story - he wrote about it a month or two ago highlighting the spat between TWRC's Design Review Panel and TEDCO, as well as the pretty unanimous agreement that this project sucked from a design perspective.

Here's one version of a letter I've been sending:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to express my extreme displeasure with the plans for ‘Project Symphony’. I had hoped that TEDCO would produce a building – especially working with Diamond and Schmitt Architects – that would be something special, iconic and exciting. That you would produce a special building for a special site. Something that would reward Torontonians for their patience regarding the sorry state of the Waterfront, and give them hope as to what would be coming.
The design, according to the renderings unveiled last night, is retrograde, banal, unexciting and uninspirational. It ignores the site, the cultural and civic possibilities of where it is situated, and feels like a betrayal of the architectural momentum that Toronto has been building as of late. It feels like a rebuke to our patience, our hopes for the city and the talented minds that inhabit it. It reminds me of the initial Toronto City Hall proposal unveiled in 1955 by Marani & Morris, Mathers & Haldenby, Shore & Moffat - a design so banal that even the provincial Toronto of that time rejected it.

I belong to an online community called the Urban Toronto Forum. You've probably heard of it. It's a loose collection of architectural and urban issue enthusiasts, from amateurs to professionals, and from all parts of the city and walks of life. If you took a look at the Urban Toronto Forum, you might be piqued to see the disappointment, outrage, mockery and disdain that is meeting the renderings of your project.

I would ask that TEDCO seriously reconsider their current plans for the building and the site, and dismiss the current proposal as unworthy to the civic aspirations – and aesthetic baseline – of Toronto. Please don’t let the city – and it’s citizens – down by giving us something so easily dismissed.