Frank Gehry refers to Toronto as his hometown. Yes, he left here over 60 years ago, but clearly he retains a sentimental attachment to the city. And yet he has never designed a new building here. That could change – in a big way – if David Mirvish succeeds in building three very tall condo towers and two new galleries at this location, replacing the 2000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre and three adjacent loft buildings.
Images via Urban Toronto.
Mirvish says in a press release: “Our vision is a project that will encompass three distinct and remarkable residential towers that will be unlike anything that has been built in Toronto. They will be grounded by stepped podiums that will house a large, new public gallery called the Mirvish Collection, a new campus for the OCAD University, and planted terraces that will create a green silhouette overlooking King Street.”
I support the vision and (more or less) the densities of these buildings at this extremely central location, which is rapidly transitioning to high-rise residential.
Even at this early stage, the planning of the project reveals Gehry’s long experience (he spent two decades designing shopping malls and apatment buildings before ), and his emphasis on pragmatic details. In the plans on show at the press conference, two of the three towers were basically rectangular in plan; the third was Y-shaped, but 14 of 18 apartments on each floor were rectangular. This means plenty of usable, salable space. Ditto for the proposed Mirvish gallery, which would have rectangular or square spaces, arranged at angles and wrapped in an irregular skin. This is much like the Guggenheim Bilbao. Likewise, the site plan is smart; most of the larger complex’s service functions are hidden inside a courtyard, rather than facing the street.
One obvious question, as the real estate market crests, is: Will it happen? Gehry’s previous urban-scale proposals at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Bunker Hill in LA were not realized (aside from Disney Hall). Will this be different?
Update Oct. 1, 2pm, to add official images.