As the population density increases in Toronto, so does the demand for more buildings and residences. However some architects argue Toronto lacks an architectural identity and there is a strong desire to modernize the city’s appearance.
“We seem to be adopting from everywhere else but here,” says Yuri Sura, program co-coordinator of the Architectural Advanced Diploma Program at Humber College. “Canada’s too young, it’s trying to find an identity but in the meantime we have to build buildings to keep up with what the rest of the world is doing.”
In addition, Hoordad Ghandehari, principal of ICON Architects Inc, says Toronto possesses an array of different styles spanning all across the city. Therefore it’s hard to pin a main influence for Toronto’s overall architectural design. However, Ghandehari says there is a specific difference between residential housing and consumer buildings.
“Mostly houses are traditional and mid-rise, and high-rise buildings are more contemporary,” says Ghandehari. “If you drive around Toronto, what you’ll see is mostly Victorian and traditional Georgian-styled architecture in single-family houses and you’ll see a lot of modern architecture in the larger buildings.”
Furthermore, Ghandehari sees housing evolving to a more modernized theme in the near future because of the city’s popular demand to construct contemporary work.
Marco L. Polo is an associate professor and undergraduate program director in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University. On Tuesday, Polo did a lecture at the North York Central Library where he spoke about Contemporary Canadian Architecture and the direction it is going towards in the future.
Polo says contemporary architecture, particularly in Toronto, consists of three themes of modernism: minimalism, naturalism, and the concept of “the idea being better than the thing itself.”
Two examples of those themes are: the main entrance of the Royal Ontario Museum: the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, by Daniel Libeskind and Will Astop’s Sharp Centre for Design at OCAD University. Both are strong models of contemporary work because the forms are simple, yet the designs are so abstract the meaning and art behind the pieces overshadows the objects and their purpose.
Also, Polo concluded his speaking event by hinting Toronto is experiencing a “return of the towers.
“There was an explosion of tower construction in the 50s and 60s and then there was a huge back lash against that in the late 60s, early 70s,” says Polo. ‘‘Recently we’ve seen a resurgence of the construction of towers.”
For instance, the King Street West Project is a three-tower condominium complex, which will replace the Princess of Wales Theatre. Architect Frank Gehry and King Street estate holder, David Mirvish, announced the project in 2012 and it should reach completion in the next 10 years.
Overall, as much as Toronto’s population is multicultural, its architecture is too, which Ghandehari says is better than having a specific architectural identity.
“Architecture basically talks about the culture of a society and it reflects on the history, on the artistic direction of a community,’’ says Ghandehari. ‘‘It creates diversity in styles and beliefs and it ordainments the city visually. If everything looked the same, it would be a very boring city.’’