What’s the only thing worse that a bad idea?
How about five bad ideas?
The five finalists for the design of the new North Market have been released, and each one is more awful than the next….in my humble opinion.
If the sink ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
Hey, remember a few years ago when that space ship crashed in downtown Toronto?
Yeah….it crashed into a building around Bloor and Avenue Road.
Oh, wait….sorry….that’s just the new design of the Royal Ontario Museum…
I can’t remember what I first thought when I saw the “new” ROM for first time, but it was something along the lines of “what the” followed by characters like @#$%* and others…
Some called it “a fusion of new and old” but I called it bizarre and quite out of place.
But I understand; it’s art, afterall. So why not get a little crazy?
Last Friday, five short-list designs were unveiled for the St. Lawrence Market’s new North Block building.
The designs have been in the works for quite some time, as the plans themselves to rebuild the north building have been in the making for over a decade now.
The existing building on the north side of Front Street (not the actual St. Lawrence Market itself, which is on the south side), was built in 1960 and has been criticized for its ugly design ever since. Plans to replace the building are almost as old as the building itself.
The “new” building, according to Toronto City Councilors, will consist of a marketplace on the ground floor that will continue to accommodate the farmer’s market on Saturdays and the antique market on Sundays, but there will also be traffic courts on upper levels.
A seven-person “jury” will be accumulating feedback and decide on a winner to be unveiled on June 7th. The “jury” consists of designers, architects, and a Toronto newspaper columnist. You can read their bios here.
Personally, I hate all the designs. Perhaps my cynical nature would lead you all to expect nothing less, but seriously, let’s think about this for a moment…
The St. Lawrence Market is one of the most beautiful buildings in our city, as it is both architecturally pleasing as well as functional even a century later.
The new designs are all gaudy and completely clash with the classical, under-stated, and historic styles of St. Lawrence Hall, St. James Cathedral, The Daniel Brooke Building, 81 Front Street, and a host of other 100 – 200 year-old buildings within a city block, in addition to the St. Lawrence Market itself.
Let’s take a look at each of the designs, and I will give you my straight-from-the-hip feedback…
This is absolutely awful.
It looks like a huge block of cheese, or maybe a piece of Lego.
It looks more like a hockey arena in Los Angeles than it does a suitable venue for a quaint antique market, or a place to buy vegetables on a Saturday morning.
Why must all the designs be so futuristic? Can’t we design something that is brand new but looks timeless?
See the clock tower of the beautiful St. Lawrence Hall in the background? Can’t we design something to match that?
This is the only one of the five designs that I don’t hate, but I can’t say that I love this one either.
The large letters that spell “MARKET” on the east side of the front of the building give it a nice touch, although it could be argued that this too looks like a hockey arena.
I like the glass facade on the east side, and the building just seems to fit in a little better with the area. The beige/grey exterior won’t draw as much attention as that yellow block of cheese in design #1.
I like this design the most because it is simple. But that’s merely a starting point for me!
This is just ridiculous.
We’ve seen designs like this before – the ROM, the AGO, and part of U of T on Spadina.
Aren’t we trying to come up with something that actually fits with the area?
This is just another block of cheese…
“Nobody can be told just exactly what the Matrix is…”
“Beam me up, Scotty!”
The front of the building looks like a time machine mixed with a test-tube from grade-six science class. Is that an elevator, or a laundry chute?
What’s with all the glass? Why does every design have to be ripe with glass and completely see-through?
Two words: RED BRICK!
This one is just really, really boring!
Not that I want something flashy, because I don’t. But this is just a glass block!
Do you remember what the market looks like?
What would be so wrong with constructing a red brick building on the north side of Front Street that won’t look completely out of place when compared and contrasted with the buildings around it?
Why must we build a futuristic glass structure that is round on one side or looks like a spaceship?
I’m not an architect, so I’m hardly going to draw you a rendering of what I have in mind.
I just think that we should preserve MORE of Toronto’s history, and a way to do that is to construct timeless-looking buildings instead of “new-age” monstrosities.
If you think I’m wrong, I’d like to give you an example of a terrible “futuristic, new-age, architectural gem” gone awry.
In the mid-1980’s, plans were in place to build a baseball stadium in downtown Toronto that would catch the eye of every sports fan on the planet. The futuristic “dome” would even have a retractable roof!
Skydome, Opened 1989.
This concrete monster opened its doors in 1989 to much fanfare, but within a few short years, the styles and tastes in the baseball world changed, and fans began to favour the classic-looking ballparks once again.
Camden Yards, Opened 1992.
The Ballpark in Arlington, Opened 1994.
I dare you to tell me that Skydome is a nicer ballpark than either the home to the Texas Rangers, or that of The Baltimore Orioles.
Red brick, green grass, treed cobble-stone paths, outdoor games, and bright lights will trump dreary indoor concrete any day of the week.
Skydome is laughed at in the baseball world and widely considered the worst stadium in the league now that the Metrodome has been replaced in Minnesota. But when Skydome was in the process of being created, its designers longed for something revolutionary and different.
If the designers of the new St. Lawrence Market North decide to create another ROM, I think it will be a mistake that we regret for years.
It might take until the year 2092 for the space-age design to fit in with the rest of the city….unless the aliens invade earlier than expected, in which case they’ll feel quite at home…