By Edward Keenan Star Columnist Sat., June 30, 2018 It was a hard spring in Toronto. In the beginning, there was an ice storm, and from there we heard bad news almost daily: shootings, pedestrian deaths, a dispiriting provincial election campaign while worse political winds blew up from the south. At times, the dark cloud has felt relentless and smothering. But summer’s here, and sometimes a quick walk out into the sunshine can be restorative: a chance to look around and count some blessings, to examine the small things that make you fall in love with the city — or some of the ones that help me realize why I love living here, anyway. Here, a counting of small blessings. Reasons to love Toronto right now. 1. The Bentway: When the first phase of the new park under the Gardiner Expressway near Fort York opened for ice skating this winter, it showed us what a little imagination and initiative can do, transforming a unloved urban crawl space into a … [Read more...] about 17 reasons to love Toronto in the summer
By Murray Whyte Visual Arts Critic Wed., May 23, 2018 Start with the word: Unceded. According to the Collins English Dictionary — the only one online to offer a definition of this very particular term — it means “not handed over; unyielded.” All others default instead to the term’s can-do root verb, “to cede,” which means “to transfer, make over, surrender.” Even that algorithmic preference tells part of the tale here: Right down to the circuitry, we remain largely in denial of our nation’s original, colonial sin. That it’s the title of Canada’s entry to this year’s Venice Biennale of Architecture — our country’s first by an Indigenous creative team of architects, curators, filmmakers and artists — makes a definitive declaration of self, refit to a blossoming new national ethos. “It’s a question of perhaps freedom and opportunity, and that we largely … [Read more...] about Canada’s Venice Biennale of Architecture entry embraces Indigenous perspective
By Elizabeth Dowdeswell Opinion Tues., May 15, 2018 My many conversations with Ontarians lead me to believe that we view engagement with people beyond our borders as both opportunity and obligation. We are a part of a larger world and mutually vulnerable to change and unpredictability. At home and abroad, I have witnessed an optimism about taking an active role in addressing humanity’s shared challenge, perhaps even with humility being an antidote to the growing temptation to turn inward. As we seek to contribute to a global agenda of sustainability with its vision of social cohesion, inclusive economic prosperity and environmental stewardship, we would be wise to take some direction from Indigenous peoples. All too often we fail to acknowledge the ancient and enduring contributions of First Peoples of Turtle Island, the name by which many Indigenous groups refer to North America. An opportunity to offer new perspectives to the global community and celebrate … [Read more...] about Celebrating Indigenous people through their architectural vision
By Christopher Hume Star Columnist Mon., May 14, 2018 Will Alsop, the irreverent English architect who brought a serious sense of playfulness to his work, has died. Though known as the bad boy of British architecture, the 70-year-old architect/artist/teacher had a special relationship with Toronto where his most celebrated contribution was the Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Better known as the “flying tabletop,” the unique structure, a black-and-white pixilated box held aloft by a series of crayon-like columns, raised eyebrows around the world. It also raised Toronto’s international profile and managed to make a cold city seem cool. Alsop first came to global attention for the Peckham Library, which opened in London in 2000. Not only did the aggressively whimsical building increase membership threefold, it earned him the U.K.’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize. With that in hand, … [Read more...] about Will Alsop, 70: British architect’s ‘flying tabletop’ changed Toronto
By Shawn Micallef Star Columnist Fri., April 6, 2018 Baseball is back, at least in places with a protective dome, and it has unleashed the annual wave of romanticism for a sport that’s rich with lore. Part of the long affection for baseball is that anybody could play it: expensive equipment isn’t needed, just a bat, a ball and space. In the mythology of baseball that space was often just an empty lot, allowing for “sandlot” games, a looser version that adapted to surroundings and didn’t require a proper ball diamond. Sandlot baseball is easiest in places that are just being built, like new subdivisions where all the houses aren’t constructed at once, or places in decline where buildings come down and aren’t replaced. Toronto’s 20 years of boom times have made empty lots an endangered species here, relative to other places. With real estate so valuable an empty lot tends not to stay that way for long, though there … [Read more...] about Is this the beginning of the end for empty patches of land in Toronto?