ERA Architects is helping out with an upcoming forum on North York’s modernist architecture that is taking place this Tuesday evening at the North York Civic Centre. The forum focuses on raising awareness for modernist buildings and landscapes in the city. The event includes a panel discussion consisting of Dave LeBlanc (Globe & Mail), Leo deSorcy (City of Toronto Planning Division), Kim Storey (Brown and Storey Architects) and Lloyd Alter (Architectural Conservancy of Ontario). The discussion will be moderated by Matt Blackett of Spacing Magazine.
We will be contributing to the event by printing an update to the document, North York’s Modernist Architecture, put together by the City of North York in 1997. The original document was developed to underline the importance of modernist buildings, and many that were featured found their way onto the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties. The updated document – available exclusively at the forum – will include the original in addition to new essays by the featured panelists and current photographs of a number of these buildings.
Tuesday, October 27th 2009
Council Chamber, North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge Street
7 – 9:30pm
Modern buildings are funny things. Their proliferation has been accepted as the common typology for city forms, yet they are often perceived as a banal insertion to the city’s skyline and an impediment towards a richer public realm.
Following a recent talk at Heritage Canada’s annual conference on the adaptability of modern buildings, I was asked about the possibility (if any) of “fixing” the maligned relationship between these buildings and the public realm. I perceived this question as one that considered this association over with little chance of reconciliation.
Modernism’s indifference does not sit well with many, and it was evident that an optimistic approach on its structures’ adaptability would not be accepted with immediate enthusiasm.
In their book Collage City, Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter critiqued the city of modern architecture against the built conditions of the traditional city. With the adeptness of the ‘bricoler’, Rowe and Koetter state that these early city builders had the ingenuity to maneuver within and around the city’s built forms and spaces in order to complement and integrate with their surroundings. Referring to existing conditions became a moot point in the Modernists’ agenda and was largely disregarded for an opportunity to begin anew.
With some irony, it is this disregard that opportunistically positions the current generation of city builders. Presented with these latent resources, the buildings and landscapes of the recent past are now prime for reconsideration.
As they move well beyond the years of their life expectancy, the bricolers for this generation need to rethink, react to, interrogate, exploit, and most important, understand these buildings and landscapes in order to reconsider their initial ideals and to fully explore these inherited opportunities.
Coach House Books and ERA Architects are pleased to announce the receipt of a Canadian Council for the Arts Grant for their upcoming publication Concrete Toronto. Dedicated to the plentiful yet often misunderstood concrete structures from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s which define much of Toronto today, this publication re-examines this unique heritage and contemplates concrete’s role in shaping our city. Continue reading…