Is there a good side to Toronto architecture scene?

On the fence

Spent some time there last week.  Mostly just overwhelmed by green glass high rise apartments and office buildings and packed in mobs of unresponsive people.

To be honest, I think it is the worst large city I have been to in my life time.  47 years traveling to about 26 countries.  I would not wish this place on my enemies.  This place was messy, dirty and jam packed.  And lets not forget the alley I travelled down watching the crack heads smoke up.  The architecture was uninspiring, realizing that the built environment is killing the youths hearts and souls.

Does anybody find Toronto to be appealing, inspirational, next level, etc?

Sep 29, 15 10:05 am

Welcome to Austin TX!!!

Sep 29, 15 10:12 am  · 

I love Toronto. I haven't lived there for a few years but Queen/Spadina, Kensington Market, College, The whole Annex area - pretty awesome neighborhoods. Fly into Billy Bishop get free shuttle to Union Station to snag the subway - better than flying into most cities. Blue Jays are pretty hot right now though the leafs will probably always stink. 

Sep 29, 15 5:47 pm  · 

Sounds like you strolled around city place & financial district, and that's it.

Sadly, you missed the most scenic and best parts of the city; the diverse, green, small-scale neighborhoods like Parkdale, Roncesvalles, High Park, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Kensington, the Annex, Cabbagetown... (I love the East too, but there are too many awesome neighborhoods to mention!)

Did you make it down to the waterfront? Sugar Beach? HTO park? Queen's Quay? Harbourfront Center? Corktown Commons & underpass park? Coronation park? Martin Goodman Trail? The Portlands? Cherry Beach?

I guess you also didn't bike on the Don or Humber river, eat at any of the incredible & well-priced restaurants, try any authentic cuisine, or visit the AGO? Did you at least manage to not drink a shitty coffee at Tim Hortons or Starbucks?

It's too bad you had such a bad impression of the city,  but it sounds like you didn't make much of an effort to explore. If I went to Berlin and only walked around Alexanderplatz, or went to Paris and stuck to the Champs Elysee I'd probably think those cities sucked too.

Next time you should message the board first, and get some recommendations!

Sep 29, 15 6:06 pm  · 
On the fence

Well, I may try another visit in ten or more years.  I think I had enough of it for now.

But, you two post some good information and if/when I do go back, I will specifically look into areas outside of downtown.  Downtown was my main area of focus on this trip.  I can not tell you which of the areas you may have mentioned that I went to but I was certainly at the campus and financial areas.

To me, this place is too cram packed to ever be considered inspiring.

And what the hell is it with all those Tim Hortons?  Not only that but there is more fast food places in Ontario then here in America.  OK maybe not but there everywhere.

Sep 30, 15 9:35 am  · 

On the fence

 Yup Toronto sucks. I lived and worked there, terribly uninspiring to live and work in. The architects do try and have the best intentions but the clients are extremely cheap, from commerical to public projects. Sure there are some cute old neighbourhoods but every city has those. Yeah try in ten years- if it changes....

Sep 30, 15 9:46 am  · 

oh bullshit...I've never been, but anybody that says a city sucks after being there for less than a week has no idea what they are talking about.  Places take time to get to know, the ins and outs and idiosyncrasies.   Working conditions in a firm does not equate to getting to know a city.  What a dumb post.

Sep 30, 15 12:32 pm  · 

Too cram packed? Have you ever visited a city before?

The Timmies are all over the place so we can always enjoy our maple glazed doughnuts 24/7/365

Toronto is the official punching bag for the rest of Canada because everyone not from Toronto hates Toronto - but that is kind of national joke and it is a pretty great city if you explore a bit and give it a chance.

Sep 30, 15 6:56 pm  · 

and what city are you exactly from?

Sep 30, 15 11:23 pm  · 
Non Sequitur
I go to Toronto fairly regularly and I despise it every time. My bar is low enough, all it require is decent hockey and Toronto does not make the slightest effort.
Oct 1, 15 7:06 am  · 
On the fence

I'm from the burbs of Chicago.  I am not trying to compare Toronto to Chicago though.  And I have been to many many large cities all over the world.

Oct 5, 15 12:50 pm  · 

^if you run an Google Image search on both of those cities from an airplane, they seem to closely resemble each other if you omit their iconic structures (CN Tower in Tdot; Sears, Hancock, Aon, and Trump in Chi). So basically their urban fabric/density of mid-high-rises seem to be quite similar in a broadened view (from the air).

But Toronto is colder, has worse hockey (ironically), and from the poster's viewpoints in this thread, has a much worse pedestrian/neighborhood environment

Oct 5, 15 1:56 pm  · 

Marcus Gee at the Globe and Mail wrote a column that Is appropriate to this thread- along with so many other cities that are going through rapid transformations. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Oct 10, 15 9:57 am  · 

PARTISANS are doing some good work. 

Oct 11, 15 9:43 pm  · 

Many good to ok projects by non-local firms:







Oct 11, 15 9:52 pm  · 

The MAD project is in Mississauga, not Toronto.

Oct 11, 15 10:31 pm  · 

True but thats only like 25km away. 

Oct 11, 15 10:53 pm  · 

Thats like saying Jersey is Manhattan.

Not the same. Mississauga is the worst.

Oct 11, 15 11:16 pm  · 

Well, jersey is an entirely different state. But hey, if Mississauga has its own thing going on and doesn't want to be lumped in with Toronto, thats fine. I don't really care.

Oct 11, 15 11:35 pm  · 

What bullshit. You have traveled to 28 countries and find Toronto to be "This place was messy, dirty and jam packed"? I've been to many countries too, and found Toronto to be very vibrant, with great people, great bars and excellent coffee shops. And quite frankly, more culturally interesting than the burbs of chicago.

To each their own, I guess.

Oct 12, 15 2:37 am  · 


Just as a point point of clarification, the point of the competition that resulted in the MAD project was to say "we've got our own thing goin on." 

Oct 12, 15 12:22 pm  · 

^lucky they were able to find a good twice-foreign architect to fly in and prove it!

Oct 12, 15 10:59 pm  · 

You forgot the parametric one liner.

Oct 12, 15 11:05 pm  · 

I actually find the above posted projects to represent some of the less interesting aspects of Toronto's design scene . I lump them together with the 'flashy, expensive condos' that are the plague of the skyline. 

To my mind, the best projects are more diminutive, oftentimes really plain on the exterior but showcase local talent and honor the historic context of Toronto. They also have a large social impact and bring people together.

Side note: I am not a Toronto native - I have only lived here 2 years. I lived in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam for 5 years before moving back to Canada (I'm originally from Edmonton, so I'm also biased from birth against 'the east').

I don't think Toronto is the best city in the world by a long shot, but it's also extremely far from the worst. I certainly have no undying love for the city; I just think that anyone who comes and makes a passing judgement based on a short walk around downtown hasn't had the benefit of the insight that comes with working and living here for a few years. 

Here are some great projects that showcase good design in the city:

Regent's park swimming pool - MJMA

Part of the 5 phase redevelopment of TCHC

Bridgepoint health center - Diamond & Schmitt

Native Child & Family services center - Levitt Goodman

Bloor-Gladstone Library - RDH Architects

Any of the Artscape projects...

The new Fort York visitor's center - Kearns Mancini & Patkau

National Ballet - KPMB

And if you look to public realm and landscape, there are some incredibly well designed, quality spaces.

The Distillery District 

Evergreen Brickworks

The Corktown Commons

Sherbourne Common

Market Street

Queen's Quay & all of the waterfront parks... 

And in the pipelines:

The new ferry terminal that's coming from KPMB and West8. 

Mouth of the creek park: 

Oct 13, 15 11:14 am  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: