Sunday, December 27, 2009

Architecture shock

OCAD's extension, Toronto, Canada

Josephine paying for parking with OCAD's
addition in the background

I met a woman who teaches school in Florence,
on the plane coming home from Italy who explained
that part of the reason Florence is so well
preserved is because the people there are still living in
the 14th century. Watching people stride around in their
slick poufy down coats and super leather bags I didn't get
that impression. I've never seen so many scooters. But
I suppose she means in an ideological way. In that case
I said, deep in the throes of my missing the place I'd
just left, I'm glad.

The Duomo, Siena, Italy

Back home in this really wonderful city, which is politically
correct almost to a fault, I find the main problem I face
is that we rarely respect our older (and that is not that old
my friend) architecture, and frequently add weird and bad
onto old and not that great. I attended the Ontario College
of Art and Design before I went to university, and every
time I see this strange new addition I feel surprised. I
can't say I don't like it, because how can new things happen,
and they have to, if change isn't given expression? But the
contrast between quattro centro Italy, and present day
Toronto is dramatic. To say the least, and I admit it, one
a half weeks later, it's still giving me pause.

Have a learning-to-love-change day.


Gwen Bell said...

Ack! That is truly visually assaulting. Especially when compared to that incredibly beautiful church. What were they thinking? LOL! Welcome Home!

Davide Tonizzo said...

Not to start a war with my neighbour, but OCAD is my favourite building in TO. I can understand your feelings toward it having just gotten back from Firenze and I agree that our city has a horrible record of not preserving it architectural heritage. But Wil Alsop's design is incredible. It is a spaceship of creativity hovering over community and inspiring us to venture further into the avant garde. No other buidling can boost that kind of metaphor. Great cities are like great DJs, mashing classics and the new into amazing tunes. London, Paris and NYC have amazing examples of this.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

Well now -- I think visual assault is part of the deal. As in the excitement of visual assault.
Glad to be home!


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Davide,

I didn't say I didn't like it. I said it's a shock. Isn't that the point? And aren't you a surprise? The problem is that it sits over one of the most boring, bad 50's or earlier buildings, and it cost 42 million to build, and it would have made more sense to spend the money pulling the whole thing down and starting over. I attended that college. I know. You do so want to fight with your neighbour! And that's okay. Our tastes are very different. But I think we can settle this over a bottle of wine or an espresso. The four of us need to meet!

Yours from the hood,


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