OCAD Ontario College of Art & Design classroom and studio building
the sharp center for design

will alsop mr blobby

"...designs unhumble buildings for humble clients, hits new heights of audacity in Toronto."

canadians astir siting kunstler

- bill 12-01-2003 1:21 am

astir, indeed. Thanks for the good links! I was very much enjoying alsoparchitects.com, particularly 'rethinking barnsley' which has really fabulous images of art collage nuttiness trespassing on yorkshire. So I was nearly won over to the pro-Alsop camp, but then I read this paragraph from your andrew blum link, and now I am back to square one.

"One of Mr. Alsop's first drawings for the College of Art and Design put three brightly colored brush strokes on top of a photomontage of the existing building - a striking distillation of the final plan's exaggerated legs. Later on, this early imagining developed into a scheme Mr. Alsop called "Under the Table," which he illustrated with another photomontage of a bikini-clad woman kneeling underneath the high tabletop."

- sally mckay 12-01-2003 8:42 am [add a comment]

That sounds like a reference to the (in)famous Allen Jones furniture/sculpture of the nude woman supporting a glass tabletop that YBA Jemima Stehli reenacted live.
- tom moody 12-01-2003 9:10 am [add a comment]

here is a shot of the student lounge

- bill 12-01-2003 6:28 pm [add a comment]

its all good
- bill 5-24-2004 6:43 pm [add a comment]

OCAD unveils a gangling work of art -- itself

Friday, September 17, 2004 - Page G5
The last thing an art school should be is anonymous, yet that's just what executive vice-president Peter Caldwell admits the Ontario College of Art and Design in downtown Toronto was since, well, since just about forever.

Having likened the old 1956 building to a "postal sorting station" in past interviews, Mr. Caldwell beams like a proud parent as we stand admiring Will Alsop's "Flying Rectangle" from the northwest corner of McCaul and Dundas streets. It will be officially opened next Thursday with a street party. From 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. McCaul Street will be closed to traffic for a ceremonial ribbon cutting and all sorts of entertainment. Everyone is invited.

The landscaping on the "Urban Oasis" underneath Alsop's Sharp Centre for Design, as well as a fresh coat of bright paint on the heritage building that houses the art supply store should be done in time for the festivities.

It's all about colour and visibility now as everywhere, sleek black OCAD banners flap in the breeze on satellite buildings, which were snatched up as soon as they became available and a giant newborn building levitates over its dowdy parent.

The campus even has a "gateway," Mr. Caldwell says, as he spins around and points to the building on the northeast corner that now houses administrative offices. And yes, it's painted a bright rusty-red colour that makes it look as if it were made of Play Doh. Like a drab grey caterpillar morphing into a wonderful psychedelic butterfly, OCAD finally has what it's always lacked: an actual, visible downtown campus that makes its presence felt yet co-exists with the city around it.

Interesting stories about the new and improved OCAD are everywhere, such as the one about the 12 multicoloured legs that prop up the Sharp Centre for Design. They weren't fabricated to hold cool buildings aloft but rather to lie on their side and transport oil: They're pipeline segments and as such had to be ordered from the Pennsylvania factory where they're manufactured. Problem is, they leave the factory coated with a thick layer of special grease, which had to be removed before they could be used for OCAD's purposes, Mr. Caldwell says.

"Apparently, there's only one place in North America that can do that and that's in Florida," Mr. Caldwell explains. So, by rail to Florida and then all the way back up to Hamilton "where the taper was welded onto both ends and then all the fastening hardware." In Hamilton, the legs also received 15 coats of "very expensive intumescent paint." If ever exposed to fire, Mr. Caldwell explains, this paint will "swell up layer-by-layer and create a protective cushion around the steel that will prevent it from sagging or failing in any way for 90 minutes."

The number of proposals for how to clad Alsop's building almost equals the layers of the fireproof paint. After 20,000 early promotional postcards were released showing each side painted a different wild hue -- hot pink, bright blue, yellow and so forth -- the "architect's thinking continued to evolve," Mr. Caldwell says. A cheaper scheme that would have seen the Sharp Centre painted entirely in black was considered, then one of all white. Not happy with these monochromatic schemes, the black and white pixellated version we see today was agreed upon by all concerned.

"The reason for it is to blur the scale of the building so when you look at it from two or three blocks away you're not really sure: is it a one-storey structure, a two-storey, three-storey?" Mr. Caldwell asks. To further enhance this, "the windows are in the exact same grid pattern" and "all placed at different heights," he says. In daytime, they blend in to become part of the spot-scape on the rest of the building.

Of course everybody knows the Sharp Centre is a two-storey pixellated box anchored nine storeys up on off-kilter legs. But feeling pixilated after a few drinks and stumbling home on off-kilter legs of our own, it's not hard to imagine it as a giant computer-generated spider. A spider that may just scurry off to a more receptive city if we don't give it credit for helping Toronto become a much more interesting place.

Dave LeBlanc hosts The Architourist on CFRB radio Sunday mornings. E-mail inquiries to dave.leblanc@globeandmail.ca

- bill 9-21-2004 11:03 pm [add a comment]

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