June 11, 2008
Build in the Beaux Arts style that is common throughout the city, the 1885 Bank of Montreal Headquarters building was designed by Darling and Curry. What were they thinking? It’s rococo stylistic flourishes suggest that all the stops were pulled out for the Bank of Montreal. The facade features numerous gargoyles, and eight carvings with a dropped jaw hold the eight symbols in their mouths: communication, industry, writing and the arts (Yonge St) and farming, architecture, music and commerce (Front St). Behind the tree, Hermes, the messenger of the gods peers down on pedestrians with a stern look.
As the home of hockey, it has a fond place in the hearts of Canadians and under the tree you can find the sculpture “Our Game.” Young hockey players are lined up ready to hop the boards and take on the world. The sculpture was done by Edie Parker in 1993.
30 Yonge Street
June 11, 2008
One of the most stunning indoor spaces in Toronto, the Allen Lambert Galleria is sometimes described as “the crystal cathedral of commerce.” Featuring a soaring vaulted ceiling and the heritage facade of an 1890’s bank building, there are surprises with every turn. The Galleria was designed in 1991 by Santiago Calatrava, one of Spain’s most famous architects.
His tropical tree canopy is one of the most elegant spaces in Toronto and is complemented with his “Heritage Square.” The arching frond theme is continued in the adjacent square with an equally stunning atmosphere. Note the “venetian blind” styling around the walls and the two windows “cranked open” to let the tropical breeze in.
181 Bay Street
June 7, 2008
Built in 1930 as the headquarters of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the 34-story tower was the tallest building in the British Empire until 1962 and one of the most opulent corporate headquarters in Canada. Constructed in the Romanesque Revival style, by Pearson and Darling, its vaulted Main Banking Hall is modelled after Rome’s Baths of Caracalla. In 1972, three other buildings were erected, thus creating the Commerce Court complex: Commerce Court West.
The building is famous for its “Giants of Jordan Street.” Sixteen enormous faces vigilantly stare out to all corners of the city, each face alternating between a grin and a grimace. They represent the bank’s goals of courage, observation, foresight and enterprise.
“Mother of Elephants” is a bronze sculpture created in 2002 by Derrick Hudson, a Windsor artist who’s work features wildlife forms in bronze, silver and stone. He focuses on wildlife art because he finds the animal form dynamic, diversified and, tragically, disappearing. “I hope to make people aware and concerned about animals in the wild” says Hudson, “and to assist in channelling this concern into greater animal protection efforts.”
199 Bay Street
June 7, 2008
Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the TD Centre is considered one of the 20th Century modernist masterpieces of the International style. The original TD Centre consisted of a grouping of two steel-and-glass towers and a banking pavilion. The 55-storey Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower was the first to be completed, officially opening on Canada’s 100th birthday, July 1st, 1967. Mies Van der Rohe sought to create an architecture where “skin and bones” buildings were perfectly balanced and orderly while creating a “free flowing” open space between them.
The towers sit back from the street with space between each building to create a quite different sense of scale. In fact the entire city block can be reduced down to five black obelisks of pure form. “Less is more.” Look for the Barcelona Chair which is another “Mies” masterpiece from the 1929 World’s Fair in Spain. For many, he is more famous for the chair than the building.
Prairie Sculptor Joe Fafard is famous for his rural art themes. His “The Pasture” collection of seven placid cows all created from the same basic mould, hint at the district’s ever hopeful “bull market.” The 1985 installation adds a simple serenity to the grounds. Also look for Al McWilliams’ “Wall and Chairs” sculpture bringing a suggestion of “stonehenge”to the grounds.
66 Wellington Street W.
June 7, 2008
While Barbara Hepworth’s museum sculptures fetch millions of dollars at auction, one of her finest works quietly rests in front of the Sun Life Building. It does raise the question of how public art is viewed outside of a typical context of white walls, small placard and security guards. Of her sculptures, Sir Herbert Read said “She infused the formal perfection of geometry with the vital grace of nature.” The forms are archetypal and instinctual- tapping into a sense of the prehistoric. This sculpture is from a collection of nine bronze pieces titled “The Family of Man” and was created in 1970.
Modernist abstraction was a common theme in the sixties when Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore were very popular sculptors. Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore were in the same art class at Leeds School of Art in 1919 and enjoyed a lifelong friendship.
150 King St. W
June 4, 2008
Built in a kindler, more gentle modernist style, the Four Seasons Performing centre has received much acclaim since it opened in 2006. Designed by Diamond + Schmitt, and built to house the Opera Company, it features the longest unsupported glass staircase ever built and a subterranean storey filled with sound-absorbing pads to stop subway noise from filtering upward. Some of the little extras include a backstage machine to dry wigs and individually heated seats. Each seat (there are 2,000) has been computer tested for the best possible sitelines.
This building is part of the architectural renaissance of Toronto that has appeared at the beginning of the twenty first century. Toronto has not seen this level of design and growth of public buildings in over 100 years.
145 Queen St. W.
June 4, 2008
The fifteen-floor Beaux Arts building was built by Sproatt & Rolph and completed in 1931. The colour of the weather beacon are either White(Snow), Green(Fair), orRed(Rain). When the Tower is lit its either Slowly Rising(temperature), Fast Rising(temperature), Steady, Or Falling Slow / Fast. It remains one of the largest office buildings in Toronto with windows that can be opened by the occupants. It had been originally built as a mooring point for airships like the Zeppelin. Air travel at the time was just beginning and flights were starting up across Europe. Unfortunately, a number of airship accidents, including the Hindenburg catastrophe in 1937 brought plans to a halt. Eventually, the tower became Toronto’s first light sourced weather beacon in 1951.
330 University Avenue