A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Popular Culture’ Category

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Language Hat reports on the Wenzhounese of Italy.
  • Language Log writes about the tones of Cantonese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money writes about the costs of law school. (They are significant, and escalating hugely.)
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the problems facing the Brazilian pension system, perhaps overgenerous for a relatively poor country facing rapid aging.
  • Neuroskeptic reports on the latest re: the crisis of scientists not being able to replicate evidence, now even their own work being problematic.
  • Personal Reflections considers the questions of how to preserve the dignity of people facing Alzheimer’s.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a Financial Times article looking at the impact of aging on global real estate.
  • Spacing Toronto talks about the campaign to name a school after Jean Earle Geeson, a teacher and activist who helped save Fort York.
  • At Wave Without A Shore, C.J. Cherryh shares photos of her goldfish.
  • Window on Eurasia notes growing instability in Daghestan, looks at the latest in Georgian historical memory, and shares an article arguing that Putin’s actions have worsened Russia’s reputation catastrophically.

[PHOTO] Five photos of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal at night

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The Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal is a huge edifice towering over its neighbourhood. I had seen it looming over Vieux-Montréal, but it was only when I tried to take a photo of the entire building that I realized its size. I had to back up to the far side of the Place d’Armes just for a single shot of the entire building in my viewfinder.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (1)

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (2)

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (3)

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (4)

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal (5)

[URBAN NOTE] “Honest Ed’s redevelopment shows what it takes to make a Village”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Alex Bozikovic really quite likes the proposed redevelopment of the area of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village.

Mirvish Village is dead. Long live Mirvish Village. In the area near Honest Ed’s this week, workers had put up fences around a string of Victorian houses on Markham Street, preparing to gut them, while creatives assembled an “Art Maze” inside the old Honest Ed’s store for a festival and sendoff, An Honest Farewell, this weekend.

It’s the end of an age at Bloor and Bathurst Streets: the loveable shambles of Honest Ed’s is gone forever. But as this weekend’s events suggest, the past will continue to have a presence on the site.

The new development at Mirvish Village, after two years of conversation between developers Westbank, locals and the city, is inching closer to approval, with a new proposal submitted in January to the city. Westbank paid $72-million for the site, a big number, and yet the result is as good as private development gets in Toronto. It features meaningful preservation of heritage buildings, a serious sustainability agenda, and affordable housing – not to mention an architectural and leasing strategy geared at making the place as lively as possible, even a bit weird.

That’s all because the developers have been ready to engage in meaningful discussion: The city and the community have made this proposal better through talking and listening.

When the first Westbank proposal emerged in early 2015, “I think [the City of Toronto] were surprised by how much we were offering,” the main architect, Vancouver’s Gregory Henriquez, told me last week. “That’s how we deal in Vancouver: We come with our best offer.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Yonge Loves Pedestrians”

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Torontoist’s Stephanie DePetrillo describes a recent meeting about making Yonge Street more pedestrian-friendly.

It’s finally time for a “big, bold, and beautiful” plan for Yonge Street that would allocate large parts strictly for pedestrians.

At the Yonge Love meet-up Wednesday night, some big ideas were presented to a packed atrium at the Ryerson City Building Institute. The goal is to attract people back to the area with space for foot traffic, street-level shops, and a focus on making side streets and laneways more vibrant.

“Evolving cities need to go through this kind of a process,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, the chief planner for the City of Toronto. “Yonge Street is going to function in a very different way in the future than how it has functioned in the past and, as a result, the alignment of the street needs to shift and change.”

During the discussion, panellists weighed in on some tricky issues like safety and transportation, a potential pilot project along King Street, and failed attempts in the past to make Yonge Street pedestrian friendly. Even autonomous vehicles were brought up by a member of the crowd to add to the list of things to consider for a project this bold.

“It really feels like déjà vu all over again,” said urban designer Ken Greenberg, referring to the previous Yonge Street project that was kiboshed by City Council.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “City’s stomach offers perennial access point to Toronto’s soul”

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In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee writes about the import of the St. Lawrence Market, present on its current location for two centuries and hopefully here for a long while to come.

St. Lawrence Market is one of the two sites in Toronto (the other is nearby St. James Cathedral) that has been used for the same purpose since the city’s earliest days.

Generations of farmers, butchers and vegetable mongers have come down to lay out their wares. Generations of shoppers have come to fill their grocery bags. In a constantly changing city, that kind of continuity is rare and precious.

So when city hall decided to tear down and rebuild the newish market building on the north side of Front Street and replace it with something better, archeologists got a twinkle in their eyes. Here was a chance to explore the buried remnants of Toronto’s past, layer upon layer. At least five market structures have stood on the site. What traces would remain of all those years of busy commerce?

By luck, the site had never suffered a huge excavation. The ground was covered only by a layer of concrete, the floor of the modern, 1968 market building. After that structure was torn down last fall, crews got digging.

They haven’t found any priceless artifacts. They didn’t expect to. This was a market, not a pharaoh’s tomb. Instead, they found butchered bones, iron meat hooks, painted ceramics, a soda bottle and an 1852 Bank of Upper Canada half-penny token. More important, they found the remains of the various buildings of evolving style and size that stood there, each a marker of the city’s growth.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Cresford Unveils Plans for 98-Storey Tower at Yonge & Gerrard”

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Urban Toronto’s Stefan Novakovic describes plans to build a tower 98 storeys tall (!) on the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard.

Rising to an incredible 98 storeys, Toronto’s—and Canada’s—tallest building could be coming to the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard. Designed by New York’s Kohn Pedersen Fox for Cresford Developments, the super-tall tower would feature a mix of retail, office uses, and residential space. The height? 343.9 metres.

With the developers now putting forward a submission to the City of Toronto, further details of the project are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks. Cresford announced a year ago now that a new building—YSL Residences—would be a new landmark development in Downtown Toronto. Now released, renderings depict a sleek, faintly sculptural form with a smooth, glassy exterior, free of balconies. Fronting the corner, the existing three-storey heritage building at Yonge and Gerrard would be maintained, with a small, angular podium volume rising above.

[. . .]

Located kitty-corner from the 78-storey Aura at College Park, which—for now—remains the country’s tallest residential building, the development would add a declarative height peak to what could become one of Toronto’s tallest communities. Immediately across Yonge Street, the Delta Hotel site is currently subject to another massive redevelopment plan, with Great Eagle Holdings’ ‘Chelsea Green’ proposal calling for three architectsAlliance-designed high-rises, including two 88-storey towers, and a 49-storey building.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 6:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Podium Concepts Revealed at Church & Wellesley Consultation”

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Urban Toronto’s Greg Lipinski reports that, on the northwest corner of Church and Wellesley, a tall tower will rise. How tall? The developers do not know. Right now, they are concentrated on the question of how to design the streetfront podium, the very base of the tower.

When One Properties purchased buildings at the northwest corner of Church and Wellesley, the very heart of Toronto’s gay community, Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam was ready to hear about another overly tall, dense, boxy development with very little regard to how it will be a benefit to the established community. When she asked One Properties to host a consultation meeting prior to them making a re-zoning application, she was shocked to learn that the developers did not want to proceed with only one meeting, but host three different “pre-app” meetings. This would allow members of the Church & Wellesley community to voice their thoughts and suggestions on how a project here could reach its full potential.

The ultimate vision of the development is to have a 4-storey, 18-metre-high podium, animated with fine grain retail at grade, and reflective of existing retailers in the Village. The podium would also be set-back from the street, allowing more room for pedestrians on the sidewalk, in addition to allowing for more sunlight. A boutique hotel would be on the third and fourth levels of the podium, while the second level would be dedicated to the community. A rental apartment tower would rise from the western side of the site; height scale and massing still to be determined.

A handful of notable firms are involved in this project. Renowned planner Ken Greenberg of Greenberg Consultants is acting as the facilitator for these meetings, while SvN Architects + Planners have been leading roundtable discussions. Claude Cormier & Associés have been chosen as the landscape design firm, with projects in Toronto including the new Berczy Park restoration, the parkette at the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, and several more. Bousfields is tackling planning work, while Copenhagen’s 3XN Architects has been chosen to lead the overall design.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm