Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hidden Space

This is the space behind the fence in yesterday's post. This used to be a concrete block building with an asphalt parking lot in front and now it is this wonderful loft & beautiful secluded courtyard. I love finding these little gems in such unlikely spots throughout the city!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trees Grow in a Laneway

This pic actually shows 2 buildings that are located in a funny little laneway. The steel doors on the left belong to a building that is a photography studio, while behind the grasses and fence this building is a live/work studio. I first visited a friend at this place several years ago when there was no vegetation and actually no fence - just an asphalt parking lot with 2 studios opening onto it. What a wonderful change! Will show you behind the fence tomorrow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Flowers

There is nothing like the gorgeous flowers of summer to help you forget all the pettiness and hassles of the world. This lovely bunch is growing in Rosehill Gardens which are in the park with the fountain from Fri. The surrounding neighbours raised the funds to put in the gardens and the city of Toronto maintains them. Super idea!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waiting for the Crowds

Early on a Saturday morning in north Toronto, this restaurant is set for the huge crowds that will be out to enjoy the great weather. It is located in Don Mills, one of the early suburbs from the 1950s & 60s that is no longer considered to be "out in the burbs" since the city has grown around it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Space Age Fountain

This fountain, near Yonge & St Clair, sits in a wonderful park which was built overtop of 1 of Toronto's water reservoirs in 1966 (supposedly to protect it from nuclear attack!?). The fountain and a connecting system of shallow pools were installed in 1967 which was Canada's Centennial year when a lot of such projects were done across the country. I couldn't find any info on the artist or title and even the subject matter is open to debate - is it space age or is it representing an atom or a molecule? Either way it's cool and the water pools have become a favourite place for dogs to cool off in the summer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Style at 60 Richmond St E

I love this newly opened apartment building on Richmond St right downtown. A joint venture between Toronto Community Housing and Toronto Housing Co-operative, it offers affordable housing to low income families. Designed by Stephen Teeple, it is built to LEED environmental standards and has still managed to be a positive visual addition to this mostly commercial neighbourhood. Quite an improvement over the usual square box apartments!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Checkers Anyone

A bench in a local park has been turned into a real gathering place by the addition of a steel coffee table with an eternal checkers game welded onto the top. Any time of the day you can spot someone with their feet up, coffee on the table, and just enjoying the park. The artist is William Roddy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Favourite House

I couldn't let summer go by without a shot of one of my favourite houses in Toronto. Located in the Casa Loma area, it was constructed in 1913 and designed by architect J.A. Harvey for Jeremiah Dinwoody. Most of the homes in this part of town were built from 1905 to 1940, many in the Arts and Crafts style but none more successfully than this one. All the proportions work and together with the landscaping it is just beautiful. Would love to sit on one of the porches drinking lemonade watching the world go by!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Toronto Sculpture Garden

This small downtown park which opened in 1981 is a partnership between the City of Toronto which owns and operates the park and the Louis L. Odette family whose foundation funds and administers the exhibitions. They have become a leader in commissioning contemporary sculpture by hosting 2 installations a year. This summer's installation is "Beside Myself" by Ted Bieler and consists of a series of benches scattered about the park each with a cast aluminum head occupying 1/2 of the bench and will be replaced in Oct with the next commission. It seems to be a popular resting place for tourists.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hotdogs On King St

There are hotdog stands all over downtown Toronto but one of the best is on King St in the theatre area - Mike's Hotdogs where you can get beef, chicken, veggie, or Polish sausage, German sausage, and even breakfast sausage in the am. With toppings galore, you can make a whole meal from a dog with the works. Early on a Sunday morning business hasn't started yet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Day on Croft St

This pic shows 2 units that were constructed on the site of an old warehouse that had been used as photography studios for years. It was purchased with the intention to do a large spread-out development but the neighbourhood went crazy and the developers were forced to put all of the building on the laneway itself and leave the back of the property landscaped so as not to overlook the surrounding homes. It is right beside yesterday's post and seems to overwhelm the other older structures in the lane.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Croft St Lofts

These 5 lofts covered in the ivy were carved out of an old building that had been a munitions factory in WW 1 and since the 1920s had been a turkish rug cleaning factory. In the 80s it was finally converted into lofts after great opposition from the city of Toronto was overcome. Each loft is 2,000 sq ft, has 2 decks, and has had a parking space carved out of the 1st floor. These were among the first loft conversions in Toronto but there are now hundreds all over the downtown area. I left the pic wide so you could see how narrow a laneway Croft St really is. One more day tomorrow on Croft St.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More on Croft St

This place looks like it was probably a coach house in its first days but looking up through the top windows you can see that it has been really upgraded and renovated. It may now be an artist studio of some kind and often people tend to leave the outsides of these laneway conversions looking relatively messy so as not to attract too much attention from thieves etc.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Croft St Day 3

Continuing further along the laneway there are several more dwelling conversions - some from old factories, some from old coach houses and some that were probably houses all along. This pic shows one that was probably a house and has been refurbished (it still has a building permit in the window) and more of the great ivy planted. Wouldn't it be great to see behind the door!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Laneway Conversion Plus Greenhouse

Obviously I like laneway housing and this conversion which is right beside yesterday's house is one of the best for me because it has a greenhouse on the roof surrounded by a huge deck. It must have been an old factory but now is a fairly large dwelling with great usage of that roof. Would love to see the interior!

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Laneway Discoveries

I went for a walk along Croft St which is actually a laneway in mid Toronto. There have been a lot of conversions in this lane, some from old factories and some where smaller existing structures have been "renovated" beyond recognition. It's hard to get neighbours to accept new laneway construction so it usually has to start with a pre-existing building. This super modern house, designed by Kohn Shnier Architects, has been constructed on the site of a tiny old house.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday in the Annex

One of my favourite places to go on a Sunday afternoon is one of the decks of the Madison Pub located on a beautiful street in the Annex district of Toronto. Situated in 3 Victorian mansions it consists of 6 pubs with 5 decks that alone will hold over 400 people. In the last few years they have expanded next door into another mansion which has become The Madison Manor Boutique Hotel - all done up in the style of an English inn (or what Canadians think of as an English inn). The location is great - close to the subway, the university, etc.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Real Folk Art

I keep going past this house that has an eccentric assortment of birdhouses, planters and just decorative things and I finally stopped when I saw an older man out installing some more pieces. He didn't speak English but understood I would like to take a photo and was pleased with the attention. This Noah's Ark birdhouse was my favourite and a little sparrow popped out of 1 of the openings just to show how well the birdhouse works. You can see him on the left of the 2nd rail.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In the Pink

This pink building is the home of the Umbra Concept Store where the Canadian company Umbra, known for contemporary products for the home, shows off its product line and also limited edition items of clothing and furniture. Opened in 2007, Kohn Shnier Architects took an existing building and by cladding it in pink plastic panels have created an eye stopper just off the Queen West shopping district in downtown Toronto.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stacking Up

This 9 ft high sculpture called "Uniform Measure/Stack" by Stephen Cruise was installed at the corner of Spadina and Richmond in 1997. This is the traditional centre of the fashion district and it is meant as a monument to the district with its stack of buttons topped by a bronze thimble. The painted 25 metre long tape measure that wraps around it appeared in 2006 with no authorization. Its artist, Victor Fraser, had been planning his addition since first spotting the thimble. Guerilla art at its best!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Toronto City Hall Green Roof

Toronto's City Hall consists of a large podium that supports 2 towers with the council chamber nestled in between them. This summer the whole roof of the podium has been turned into a green roof with 35,000 sq ft of plants (grasses, sedums, perennial flowers, trees, etc) as well as lovely seating areas. This sets an example for the new Toronto bylaw requiring all new developments over a certain size to have green roofs and at the same time will cut down on energy costs at City Hall!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mountain in the City

This untitled sculpture is found on Front St in Simcoe Park (that is the CBC building behind it). Created by renowned British sculptor Anish Kapoor, it was installed in 1995 and is made of multi layers of aluminum that have been water-jet cut to form the mountains. Kapoor is now widely known for creating the highly reflective "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Urban Planter

I discovered this wonderful courtyard in front of a commercial building on Adelaide St E. There is a fountain and other landscaping but the best part are these stainless steel planters each on a cart. They are so hard edge and still work so well with the plantings - would love to have one!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No Time for Chocolate on Sundays

This is the window from Stubbe Chocolates - they specialize in incredible truffles but also provide chocolates, pastries and decadent cakes. They often have a seasonal chocolate sculpture in the window but this chef is super and the whole thing is edible! Some of the best chocolate in town but not on Sundays.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another Laneway House

This house, called "the Courtyard House", was converted from a contractor's warehouse in a westend laneway into a home and studio for a family of four. A 2nd floor courtyard was cut out of the warehouse to provide light into the centre of the building and a ground floor courtyard leads to a wonderful studio structure - hence the name Courtyard House. The architects were Studio Junction and they were their own clients. The house has had a lot of media attention where shots of the interior can be viewed. (There always seem to be little clothes hanging in the 2nd floor opening.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Lineal Order"

I happened upon this work across the road from Roy Thomson Hall (see Aug 2 post) and couldn't believe that it had been there since 1990. Titled "Lineal Order" the Canadian artist, George Boileau was commissioned by the condo development (Symphony Place) - another example of the city of Toronto's art budget requirement for new development. Love this piece!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Honest Ed's

This landmark discount store at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst was the foundation of Mirvish Productions mentioned in the last 2 posts. Opened in 1948 by Ed Mirvish, it has grown to occupy the whole block along Bloor and is famous for its marketing stunts like free turkeys at Christmas and street parties with free food and give-aways. Over the years the whole square block was purchased by Ed and he turned the Victorian buildings into Mirvish village with boutiques, restaurants, galleries and artist studios. This sign with 23,000 lights is impossible to miss!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stella Mural

The back of the Princess of Wales Theatre is actually more interesting than the front since it has this huge Frank Stella Mural on its wall. This is just a small service road so the mural overwhelms as you approach it. Unfortunately the colours have faded over the years making one wonder what it will look like in another 20 years.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Princess Of Wales Theatre

In the same block as yesterday's post, sits the Princess of Wales Theatre - one of 4 theatres in downtown Toronto owned by Mirvish Productions. Designed by architect Peter Smith, the 2000 seat theatre opened in 1993 and has one of the deepest and widest stages in North America enabling it to show all the large productions available. On a quiet early Sunday morning the outside appears unassuming but at night it is aglow with lights. Inside, the spectacular interior features the work of dozens of craftspeople and artists - in particular over 10,000 sq ft of murals by renowned artist Frank Stella!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roy Thomson Hall

The building to the left with its pond and patios is Roy Thomson Hall, one of Canada's premier concert halls and home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This circular building with its curvilinear honeycombed glass canopy was opened in 1982 and was designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erikson with Mathers and Haldenby. In the background you can see the CBC building in the centre and Metro Hall (government services) to the right. It is quite an interesting block on King St to explore.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Restaurants In the Theatre District

This is an early Sunday morning shot of the restaurant row along King St before the brunch crowd was out and about. Most places in Toronto don't take reservations for Sunday brunch so it can sometimes involve a long wait for a table. It's usually worth the wait.