Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

"Imagine Grange Park" meeting tonight / that damned OCAD building

I’m rather busy today, so this entry is somewhat unfinished. I’m

posting it anyway because it refers to an event that takes place


Someone dropped a flyer off in my mailbox (the physical one, just outside the front door to my house) which reads:

Grange Park Preservation Group est. 1987

The Grange Park Preservation Group is dedicated to the protection of

Grange Park, the preservation of green space surrounding the Grange and

the architectural conservation and integrity of the Grange. The Grange

Park Preservation Group works toward the protection of the green space

and the skyscape in the Grange neighbourhood.

A community forum on the proposed expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario

“Imagine Grange Park”

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

7 pm – 9 pm

University Settlement House

23 Grange Road

Moderator: John Sewell, former Mayor of Toronto

Invited Speakers:

  • Adam Vaughan, Political Specialist, CityTV
  • Christopher Hume, Architectural Columnist, Toronto Star
  • Catherine Nasmith, Architect
  • Debbie McGuinness, parent and area resident
  • Pearl Quong, area resident
  • Lenore Richards, Dean of Design, OCAD
  • An unnamed representative from the Art Gallery of Ontario
Sponsored by the Grange Park Preservation Group, members of the Grange

Historical Society, individual residents and tenants of Dundas

Beverley, Deep Quong, Hydro Block, Grangetown, 11 Sullivan, Beverley

Sullivan Co-op, present and former residents of the Grange


If can make the time, I’ll drop by the meeting and see what’s going on.

One might think that the presences of Hume, the architexpert for the

Star, and Richards, Dean of Design at a well-known art and design

school, would be a good thing. I’m not so sure; after all, they like

the retrofit of the Ontario College of Art and Design, pictured below:


it actually looks like this. It just screams “I learned everything I

know about design by studying old Duran Duran album covers”. The

building is already up, and the new addition will be open for regualr

use in October.

Hume likes the design of the new OCAD building. In this article, he is quoted as saying “[Architect Will] Alsop’s scheme is best understood as a celebration of creativity”.

Richards also likes the design, and according to the same article, said

“The boldness in its vocabulary of form, materials and colour results

in buildings that are engaging and extremely memorable”.

Sir, Madam, I must say that after having seen the architect’s sketches

for the building, I can only respond with “I’ve seen better paper after

wiping my ass”.

My leanining is closer to James Howard Kunstler’s opinion. He saw fit to name the new OCAD building his Eyesore of the Month for November 2003:

Behold the new $30 million Ontario College

of Art & Design classroom and studio building by British architect

Will Alsop — a totemized retro-futuroid coffee table joined umbilically

to its Soviet-style predecessor below. The message, apparently:

art and design are nothing but fun fun fun. Nothing to get serious

about. A playful spirit of induced hazard will keep students wondering

when the checkered box might wobble free of its cute swizzle-stick

legs and come crashing down on their heads. This exercise in hyper-entropic

avant garde faggotry is so cutting edge that it is already out of

date. The only question: which of the two conjoined buildings is

more cruelly ridiculous?

If it’s any indication of Alsop’s design sense, the site for his firm, Alsop Architects,

is an exercise in “my art, above all else” user-hostile art-wankery.

The Flash-based front page provides no cues as to what is clickable and

what is not. Some of the clickable items aren’t even visible until you

pass your mouse over them, and none of them hint at what happens when

you click on them. It emphasizes quirkiness over design or usefulness;

instead of “here’s the information you need”, it merely announces “oh,

what a clever boy am I!”

8 replies on “"Imagine Grange Park" meeting tonight / that damned OCAD building”

No matter if you think it’s nice or ugly, I just think it doesn’t belong in a residential area.

Pray, pray that an earthquake never hits Accordion City. That thing’d go flat as a pancake.

i love it, it’s brilliant. the pictures really don’t do it justice. it’s a landmark, and it’s an amazing one.

Augh! The Martians are attacking!

I mean, thing is, it fails even as “breaking the bounds” architecture. You put a box of a building in the middle of the sky and you Don’t Even Add Windows In The Floor Of The Box? This isn’t the building of an architect who was really thinking, exploring the possibilities of a new location for buildings… This is the building of someone who said, “Whoa, dude, it’d be wild if we took a building, you know, and painted it weird colors and put it on really high stilts, man…”

I’m with sef on the “avant garde faggotry” characterization, though. Yuk.


Although I wouldn’t want many buildings to adopt anything approaching this… er… bold style of design, you have to stop and think:

It’s the Ontario College of _Art_. If you’re going to have a building that’s completely off-the-wall out there, where _else_ would you put it? Why shouldn’t the College of Art make a statement as bold as this one?

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