Those of you who don't live in Toronto might think this building belongs to the burgeoning genre of fictional architecture. But the new Ontario College of Art and Design building is real. Here's how it's looking so far. Based on the artists' conception, Bill the architecture maven says he thinks its working. Which just goes to show you can't displease all of the people all of the time.

- sally mckay 11-30-2003 1:21 am

Oh, dear. I'd been keeping this whole thing nicely beyond my even peripheral vision, hoping it wasn't True. But it was a hot topic in Southern Saskatchewan this summer. Odd to be sitting on the prairies and contemplating something that flamboyantly airborne. The woman from Toronto who was telling us about it lives in the apartment complex that's attached to the OCAD building, or just across the street from it, so I suppose she's got a primary interest in the thing. The prairie folks regarded it as yet another ghost story. I guess we've got adequate proof now that the upper stories of even traditional buildings aren't all that safe, but could you imagine being _in_ this thing, and trying to remain calm enough to make art? Jesus.

(If you're wondering at the peculiar construction "my even peripheral," examine the possible misunderstanding of the alternative: "even _my_ peripheral." )
- Jean (guest) 11-30-2003 6:47 pm

you know, though, I must confess that it looks better from the street than I thought it would. looking up from below it looks kind of impressive and a bit less just plain silly. I'm hoping they'll forgo the white and black, broken-up checkerboard cladding. I have no idea how/why this thing is stable. I feel like I want to talk to the engineers in person before I'm called upon to go up in there.
- sally mckay 11-30-2003 7:40 pm

Yeah, exactly. More than talk; run a personal check, like the manner in which they approach strange dogs, and whether they like Stephen King.

I suppose, though, that every art school worth its salt must have at least a soupcon of grit in its ambience. At Emily Carr it's Granville Island Yuppy-dum, and at NSCAD it's the turd-laden harbour water lapping at the foundations.
- Jean (guest) 11-30-2003 8:03 pm I said in another thread on dmtree, my main objection to this design is the "art is wacky and fun" aspect. If it wasn't an art college I think I'd be more forgiving. But rigour in art school is hard enough to come by, without doing it in a building that looks like Cindy Lauper.
- sally mckay 11-30-2003 8:22 pm

Speaking of stability, what are their plans for keeping snow off the roof, I wonder? A heating element? That's a lot of flat surface area way up in the sky. (Note subtle climatological dig.)
- tom moody 11-30-2003 9:39 pm

thanks for posting the pics. I cant think of a better place for the "working" to begin. creating a stir in the design faze and keeping the momentum going durring the construction stage. My artschool was a modernist concrete brute bunker circa 69/70. majorly grounded and nurturing and reflective of the "back to earth" art of its time. this levitated place may encourage future student artists to "let go" of artistic preconceptions and go places we might not think we belong. just an aside here but do you remember the ginsberg/yippie antiwar stunt where they gathered around the pentagon chanting an encantation intended to levitate the place. I dont think anyone on both sides was 100% sure it wouldnt happen untill it didnt happen.
- bill 11-30-2003 10:59 pm

good background links on architect Alsop here, thanks to bill.
- sally mckay 12-01-2003 8:43 am

I think those big posts are holding it up, but I'm no architect!

OCA nedds some kind of identity, and if it has to be Cindy Lauper then so be it. Right now OCA seems aobut "art is easy ... but not fun" so if it changes to art is easy ... and fun, that's a step in the right direction. I feel the same way about this building as I do about imac design - at least it's different. I'm with you on the poka dots though - it should have clouds painted on it instead. And clowns. Lots and lots of Clowns

How are the sculpture students suposed to get supplies up there? Ropes? Is there access besides that central staircase?
- Joester (guest) 12-02-2003 2:06 am

It's getting the finished sculptures _down_ that'll be fun. There'll get to be a long tradition of hurling. The Cindy Lauper Royal Road Test.
- Jean (guest) 12-02-2003 2:34 am

Down is easy. Balloons.
- Joester (guest) 12-02-2003 5:16 am

Having been through a few earthquakes, including the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, I'd need to see more than structural analysis before spending time in that improbable annex. I'd want to know about the tectonics of the entire region.
- mark 12-02-2003 6:01 am

I say they paint the coffee pot black with dayglow triangles and set it on the slab.
- steve 12-03-2003 6:07 pm

Finally an idea with a little caffeine in it.
- jimlouis 12-03-2003 7:02 pm

hows this project coming along? any more in progress shots ?

6 links with various takes on your new AGO gehry building.

- bill 1-29-2004 9:17 pm

Bill I will get onto this (progress shots) soon. I noticed the other day that the cladding is on, didn't get a good look. The AGO building is right next door to the OCAD building. thanks for the Gehry links. I was supposed to go to the unveiling last night but had a conflict - not sure yet what I think, but you'll be hearing from me eventually!
- sally mckay 1-30-2004 1:03 am

more links : the toronto effect ?
- bill 2-02-2004 6:42 pm

Here you go. It's coming along nicely. Looks a helluva lot better than I thought it would. I don't like architects' renditions. That 3/4 view from above is so strange, as if the building were a little sculpture. The Gehry design for the AGO (below) is just mystifying to me. If Dundas was a big boulevard the giant canopy might make some sense, but the only view of that thing will be from underneath. Unless you're the guy who drives the product placement blimp around in the summer time. I think, however, that I was wrong about Alsop's OCAD, so maybe I am wrong about this too.

- sally mckay 2-09-2004 7:40 am

I guess it doesnt look too dark under the ocad
- bill 2-09-2004 1:39 pm

no no. It's not dark. It's blocking light/view for the condo people across the street, but, I'm not shedding any tears for them.
- sally mckay 2-09-2004 4:04 pm

"People are friendly in Toronto. They talk to you spontaneously in the street. "Interesting place, huh?" is a typical opening gambit when I am caught pointing my camera at Will Alsop's new Walking-City extension to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). Policemen and women on bicycles stop to chat. Streetcar drivers talk as they go. Even the beggars, of whom there are many, are strangely unthreatening to anyone hardened in the streets of European or American cities. They are all anxious to know: what do I think?" So, what does he [Hugh Pearman] (arch critic for the London Times) think?

- selma 6-16-2004 6:08 pm

lookin' good toronto. whens the last time anything better than half decent (McSkyscrapers) was built in nyc? ill answer that myself. here.) just to show it can be done

- bill 6-16-2004 6:40 pm

Toronto is getting pretty I guess. Wish we could've used some of that Superbuild money for our now defunct art magazine. But buildings are nice too. (Forgive my bitterness, spent 2.5 hours at the accountant on Monday nailing the last financial nails in the financial coffin that once was Lola magazine.)

It's pretty funny that Pearman says Torontonians are friendly. We're not. W'e're cold and reserved and we stare blankly at one another while we rush around trying to make money. But because of this we are all lonely and alienated and as soon as there is an external excuse to interact our facades crumble and we're all over the socialising like a dirty shirt. I guess the OCAD building is filling this ice-breaking function, which is a welcome side-effect of wacky architecture.
- sally mckay 6-16-2004 10:53 pm

sounds like someone got a blue bike for christmas whilst they were hoping for a red one.
- bill 6-16-2004 11:16 pm

People should know how to pick the right colour bike before slinging money around. But really my complaint is more like somebody bought me a great big expensive car I don't want or need when I really really wanted a plain ordinary little bike.
- sally mckay 6-16-2004 11:23 pm

blue and red bikes will get you there in exactly the same amount of time. but really, its an art studio. i thought more art studios are good.
- bill 6-16-2004 11:29 pm

I'm not pitting our art magazine against the art school. It's apples and oranges. But that Pearman piece talks about Toronto taking itself more seriously as a cultural centre and because of my current head-space it makes me sad and aggravated for the loss of Lola. That's scandal, no big anti-architectural stance, just a lump in my throat.
- sally mckay 6-16-2004 11:37 pm

sorry about the magazine.
- bill 6-17-2004 2:30 am

aw. thanks. Sorry for being a big crybaby. I have to go back to what I said to Selma yesterday, which is that I like this building a lot now. Will get some inside shots in the next day or so (it's near my work).
- sally mckay 6-17-2004 7:53 am

would love to see, thanks sally mckay. and I am sorry about the magazine too. (All in the name of "socialising like a dirty shirt"? - good one, I had never heard that expression).
- selma 6-17-2004 6:17 pm

I thought we had finished "Will Alsop week" but here is commentary by him from today's Guardian. Nothing to do with Toronto, not really, but some nice thoughts on the idea of "the biennale" and dialogue.
"I would like to see the biennale act as a framework for debate, not just localised and project-specific, but on broader issues. Over time, I would like to see the biennale gather an authority that allows it to shake off its "architecture" tag and become the focus for dialogue across the whole artistic spectrum - it is all the same debate. We need to show the world the possibilities of creative thought and, in doing so, show ourselves."

- selma 6-21-2004 11:49 pm

sally mckay. Toronto continues the media blitz. Here is what the Financial Times has to say.
("In total, nearly C$900m is to be spent on cultural buildings. About a third comes from a federal and provincial government initiative called SuperBuild.")

- selma 6-24-2004 6:26 pm