Saturday, November 14, 2009


What is it with Toronto and tall tower projects?
Why this city is sooo thristy for high structures?

Ok. There is the fact that it's a "big city", with a lot of people living in it per square meters. I get that - tall projects can "parked" more people within the boundaries of the GTA. But do we want "this" at any price? Do we need to build "whatever" as long as it's tall and profitable? And why it seams like there is no vision, no urban planning behind all this tall-tower-mania?

Take the project at 2055-2057 Danforth Avenue. A lovely panel is telling us right now that they are trying to change the by-law application for this zone to build a 12-14 storey multi-something there. That portion of our city allows 5 storeys right now. 5 storeys.... Isn't that zoning there for something?

See, I may be a purist in terms of urban planning, but I like when streets are forming a nice visual ensemble. You know - when it looks good all together. What I don't like is when there is a giant thing in the middle of dwarfed buildings. It's just that it look.... well... It's ugly, that's what.

Call me negative and against the futur if you want. but there is nobody that will convince me that these projects were successful in that genre:

- St-James Town
- Most of Jarvis Street...
- Main Square Towers
- The towers at Gerrard East and River Street
- Victoria Park
... and many other ones.

If only they were pretty. If only that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Playter Farmhouse

Take the house of an old family of Toronto settlers (the Playters - famously known for being successful dairy farmers and what's not), put it into one of the best 'hood in town (Playter Estate, right there in the Greek/Danforth area), what do you get????

Well, first you get a very impressive historical house. Nice enough to get "the plaque treatment and all. This red-brick, rectangular house, sitting at 28 Playter Cres is decorated with a white brick pattern. A "grande dame" who was built in the mid 1870's by John Lea Playter.

You can't really miss it right now... It's under a masive reno.

Actually, at this point I will call this an overhaul. I don't know who is the owner(s), but they have a vision, that's for sure. But is it the right one? Restaurating an historical structure is very noble, but changing it into a massive multi-something? Is that keeping the spirit of the place?

When you look at it from the front, not much has changed. They bricked the gables on the roof, but the house still has the same proportions. It's when you look on the sides that you discover this:

It's like if 2 houses were growing back there! Call me a purist if you want, but what is the point exactly? My first guest is to split it into many households. I see $$$ here. Very mad to see this "protected house" going down this route (thanks again Toronto to have such an eye for heritage). And I am not the only one to think so: while taking the above pictures a cyclist stopped to tell me how sad he is that they are doing that to the house.

Sadness... And nostalgia when you compare the now with the then, before the early 1900's alterations.