Comment 6625

By Bumpy Ride (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2007 at 20:15:05

And at the same time our new mayor is angling to knock city hall down in favour of a new something deemed architecturally significant. Maybe like the new city hall in Toronto, which helped that city advance form its "Toronto the good" heritage into a new travel destination. But then, they didn't knock down the old city hall either. It's still a courthouse and popular spot for movie shoots.

Okay, we're not TO, and we could stand to make an architectural statment to herald the new Hammer. But the old hall ain't so bad as far as that goes. I was around when it opened and recall how the council chambers were positioned out front, floating above the surrounding plaza as a symbol of access and openness to the citizens, who could be addressed directly by their representatives from a balcony. Pity that message was appreciated more by the citizens than our elected reps, but a valuable statement nonetheless.

And the surrounding plaza has turned out to be quite an attractive collection of open and surprisingly delightful small spaces, if you include the gaps around the Football Hall of Fame, the McQueston gardens, the Family courthouse and the injured workers memorial. Only the back parkinglot and garage seem cramped and utilitarian.

But wait, that garage was originally built as the foundation for a future expansion of city hall. Why not renovate the existing building and expand where intended. Maybe not expand with another mid-century modernist building, but with something more up to date and architecturally significant, bridging along a covered walk to the newly renovated old city hall. Today's architecture seems to be more frivolous and fun, making use of the structural qualities of new materials to bring surprising delight to the eye.

I'm thinking here of something like the Pencil Box addition to OCAD in Toronto. Wouldn't that be a kick, to see somthing like that floating behind the old CH, with a second major entrance facing Hunter St. and a short stroll to the GO station further east.

Not exactly that, of course, but something like it. Something like, well, that's what architects are for, but my question is, why do we have to throw away something significantly old in order to accomplish something significantly new?

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