FACADISM 2: BLOOR-YORKVILLE-YONGE-COLLEGE
By Richard Longley
Theme: Arts & Architecture, History & Culture
Accessibility: Fast-Paced, Triggering Content
FACADISM is the most derided mode of architectural conservation. But in urban downtowns, where the clash between heritage value and land value is most unforgiving, it’s become almost the default mode of preserving architectural history.
Consider the skills that recovered and restored this almost lost heritage. And check the facades of the newer buildings you see on your way. Tell us; what do you think?
If you find this walk interesting, try FACADISM 1: Financial and Entertainment Districts.
STOP 1: JOHN LYLE STUDIO, 1 BEDFORD ROAD, 1919-1943
(North of Bloor West, opposite Bedford Rd entrance St George, TTC Line 2)
Born in Ireland in 1872, John Lyle grew up in Canada to become an architect whose many works in Toronto include Union Station, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Runnymede Public Library, Bank of Nova Scotia at Bay and King, Dominion Bank at Yonge and Gerrard (now a cannabis store), 11 Austin Terrace, (home of John Maclean, founder of Maclean’s magazine).
Thornton-Smith building, 340 Yonge Street (now Champs Sports) won Lyle the Ontario Association of Architects Gold Medal in 1922. Between 1919 and 1943 his studio was located at 230 Bloor West. Today it’s façade, removed then rebuilt, is reduced to a sticker on the side of the Starbucks at the foot of the 32-storey 1 Bedford condo.
WALK SOUTH THEN EAST ALONG BLOOR WEST, REMAIN ON NORTH SIDE
STOP 2: ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM, 100 QUEENS PARK
Original building in “Italianate Neo-Romanesque” style, Pearson and Darling, 1914.
“Neo-Byzantine” east wing, by Chapman and Oxley opened, 1933.
“Michael Lee Chin Crystal” by Daniel Liebeskind opened in 2007 added 100,000 square feet of new exhibition space, a new entrance and a new appliqué façade which covers most of the original, 1914, north façade.
East entrance restored by Hariri Pontarini with ERA Architects, re-opened 2016.
EAST TO AVENUE ROAD, NORTH ON WEST SIDE TO YORKVILLE
STOP 3: YORK SQUARE, 33 AVENUE RD. (AT YORKVILLE), 1903-1913
Edwardian houses converted to business, architect unknown 1968 transformed into “York Square” by Jack Diamond and Barton Myers, architects:
“In an era where urban renewal was the norm, this pioneer project from Diamond and Myers with circular windows inspired by Louis Kahn was the first project to combine new and old buildings into a new urban form.”
York Square in its glory days, when it was home to the Sassoon Academy, restaurant, Il Posto and the finest of Toronto’s too few secluded patios
YORK SQUARE, PROPOSED RECONSTRUCTION
CROSS AVENUE ROAD TO YORKVILLE, WALK EAST
STOP 4: JAMES BRIDGELAND HOUSE/MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL, 1923 – 1953, 100 YORKVILLE AVE
1871 home of James Bridgeland
1914 Lyndhurst Hospital
1913 Ezras Noshem Society founded by Slova Greenberg began a fundraising campaign
1922 purchased hospital
1923 “Hebrew Maternity and Convalescent Hospital".
1924 re-named Mount Sinai Hospital.
1934 rebuilt with new façade by Benjamin Kaminker, Edward Richmond architects, When Jewish doctors were not welcome in non-Jewish hospitals; provided communication in Yiddish, kosher food for patients.
1953 Hospital transferred to University Avenue. Yorkville building now Chanel
WALK EAST, ACROSS BAY, TO YONGE ST, NE CORNER AT YORKVILLE
Applied Vernacular (locally sourced, new on old) Facadism in Yorkville Abundant on formerly heritage retail wherever it exists.
STOP 5: “1 YORKVILLE”, 838-850 YONGE STREET, ARCHITECTS, DATES OF CONSTRUCTION UNKNOWN.
Grocery built on this site in 1860 owned by Charles J. Frogley, baker and confectioner, 1884-1909.
(In 1876, 12 year-old George Weston worked in an earlier Frogley store at 497 College Street where he learned how to make “Real Home-Made Bread”.) Subsequently Eclipse Bakery and The Milk Bar; in 1980 The Cook Book Store. Now the “heritage anchor” of 1 Yorkville. It’s conservation, with the storefronts to the south of it, that date back to the 1860s, will produce what architect Roy Varacalli calls “3-D wallpaper” that will be the facade of the 58-storey tower’s ground floor boutiques: “We’re saving six metres of the structures from Yonge St. back. We’re not just doing façadism, we’re keeping the mass of the buildings and the insides of the buildings. We’re doing a true restoration. The condo tower will sit 10 metres back from the heritage buildings, so they can actually stand on their own.” e
WALK SOUTH DOWN YONGE STREET, EAST SIDE, CROSS BLOOR, CONTINUE
STOP 6: WILLIAM LUKE BUILDING, 1883, 774-776 YONGE STREET (south of Bloor West)
To be incorporated into “The One” 85-storey, 306-metre tower by Norman Foster architects for Sam Mizrahi (on the site of Stollery’s men’s clothing store that was demolished in 2015.)
“Late 19th century commercial buildings with features of the Italianate style. Contextually valued for their contribution to the character of Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street West when Yonge Street became Toronto's main commercial corridor.”
(See also: William Luke House, 16 Lowther Avenue.)
STOP 7: LOEWS UPTOWN, 764 YONGE STREET, THOMAS W. LAMB, ARCHITECT, 1920
One of 174 theatres by Scots-born, US architect Thomas Lamb (In Toronto, Pantages/Ed Mirvish, 1920, Elgin and Winter Garden, 1914.)
The Uptown closed after its owners lost lawsuit Turnbull vs Famous Players, which required all theatres to become wheelchair accessible. (In 1983 Barbara Turnbull, then age 18, was made quadriplegic, when, near the end of her shift, she was shot at a Becker’s store.)
Theatre demolished 2003. Now a Rogers showroom with 48-storey condo tower behind its façade. Facade stripped of its marquee but theatrical masks and brackets for attaching the marquee remain.
STOP 8: ROBERT BARRON BUILDING, G. W. GOUINLOCK ARCHITECT, 1899, 728 YONGE ST. (AT CHARLES) EXTENSION TO THE WEST, 1902
Interior renovated, façade restored by Shoppers Drug Mart, 2019 from condition below.
(Admirable for a company whose original buildings rank among the most banal in the city.)
STOP 9: FIVE CONDOS, 5 ST JOSEPH STREET, 10. 606-618 YONGE STREET (AT ST JOSEPH)
Hariri Pontarini with ERA Architects 2016 48-storey condo tower above offices and warehouses of
Rawlinson Cartage, 1905 - late 1960s; plus 606-618 Yonge Street.
STOP 10: CLOCK TOWER OF FIRE HALL NO. 3, JAMES GRAND ARCHITECT, 1870, 484-488 YONGE STREET, ST CHARLES TAVERN, 1950-1987
To be incorporated into podium of Halo Residences by architectsAlliance/ERA for Cresford Devepts.
Fire Hall No. 3 protected the neighbourhood around Yonge Street south of College from 1870 until 1929, when Station 314 was built around the corner at 12 Grosvenor Street.
The St Charles Tavern was opened in 1950 on the original fire hall site by newsboy turned real estate millionaire, horse breeder and winner of the King’s Plate, Charles Hemstead. With its Oriental Room that served “steaks, ocean fresh sea food and crisp garden salads” as well as Chinese food, the St Charles drew guests from the Red Lion in the Westbury Hotel at Bay and College, that was better known, for its gay clientele, as the “Pink Pussy”. The Red Lion lacked the restaurant licence that allowed the St Charles to avoid the 90min “dinner break” that Ontario liquor laws imposed on taverns until 1966 so, when the Pink Pussy took its break, its barflies moved north to the St Charles.
“Meet Me Under the Clock,” was a summons for gay community events and cruising. There was a “Call me Miss-Ter” female impersonation revue where drag queens who displayed at Halloween risked being pelted with eggs in a city that was less appreciative of difference than it is today. After Hemstead died in 1961 the St Charles stayed open until 1987 but upstairs a succession of discos and clubs maintained its tradition, Empire, Time, Tower, Circus, Maygay, Charly’s and Y-Not until 1992. In 2021 the 150-year old clock tower is being incorporation into the podium of a 38-story condo Halo Residences by architectsAlliance for Cresford Developments who promise: “The liberated tower will be paired with a transparent glass screen on which is traced an architectural drawing of the lost fire hall in white glass frit, resurrecting the genius loci – the ‘spirit of the place’ – of old Yonge Street.”
CONTINUE SOUTH ON YONGE STREET, ACROSS COLLEGE STREET TO GERRARD. (SOUTH OF ST CHARLES TO GERRARD, OPTIONAL; REQUIRES RETURN. AVOID BY WALKING WEST ON GROSVENOR.
STOP 11: AURA BUILDING, 386 YONGE ST., GRAZIANI + CORAZZA ARCHITECTS, 2014
Does this 21C façade explain the urge to save the facades of older buildings?.
CROSS YONGE ST TO NORTHWEST CORNER OF YONGE AND GERRARD
STOP 12: GERRARD BUILDING, 385-395 YONGE STREET, SPROATT & ROLPH ARCHITECTS, 1924
In 2015, intact, in 2020, braced for façade retention, hollowed by demolition to become podium of YSL (Yonge Street Living) Condos, Kohn Pederson Fox & architectsAlliance for Cresford Developments. 85-storey condo tower March 27, 2020: project halted by a mandatory pause, after Cresford Developments go into receivership.
WALK BACK NORTH ON YONGE STREET, WEST SIDE, ACROSS COLLEGE, PAST ST CHARLES TOGRENVILLE THEN LEFT TO WALK WEST ON GRENVILLE, NORTH SIDE.
STOP 13: JOHN IRWIN HOUSE, 1873, 9 GRENVILLE STREET (FORMERLY #21)
In 1856 land developer Alexander Clark subdivided the former property of John Elmsley, Chief Justice of Upper Canada (Catholic convert and major financier of the construction of St Michael’s Cathedral) to develop the Elmsley Villa Estate. Businessman and politician John Irwin built this house in the Second Empire style in 1873. In 2013 the house was relocated 32m east of its original location and integrated into Karma Condos. Designated 2011.
“We’ve had a number of cases over the years where there’s been some pretty nifty ways of keeping buildings up, but they’re generally not hanging over the site in full form. It’s pretty dramatic.”
Mary MacDonald, manager, Toronto Heritage Preservation Services, February 3rd 2014.
STOP 14: JENKINS ANTIQUE AND ART GALLERY, 25 GRENVILLE STREET, SPROATT & ROLPH ARCHITECTS, 1917
Art nouveau podium of “The Gallery” condo/slab building, 1990
WEST TO BAY STREET
STOP 15: R. S. MCLAUGHLIN BUILDING, 832 BAY STREET (NW CORNER AT GRENVILLE), HUTTON AND SOUTER ARCHITECTS, 1925 BURANO BUILDING, PETER CLEWES, ARCHITECTSALLIANCE, 2012
Showroom of Canada’s first automobile manufacturer; dismantled 2007, to be reconstructed as the podium of the 149m, 48-storey Burano on Bay Building.
Conservation in place not possible because the sand it stood on was shifting, dangerously; had to be excavated to allow digging and pouring of the Burano’s deep foundations and construction of underground parking. The Burano is set back sufficiently to form a waterfall-like backdrop to the McLaughlin Building that is, regrettably, no longer an auto showroom.
SOUTH ON BAY TO COLLEGE, TURN RIGHT, WALK ON NORTH SIDE
STOP 16: TORONTO GENERAL HOSPITAL, 101 COLLEGE STREET, PEARSON & DARLING ARCHITECTS, 1913, MARS DISCOVERY DISTRICT, ADAMSON ASSOCIATES, +VENTIN GROUP HERITAGE ARCHITECTS, 2005, 2013
Behind the facade of the third building of Toronto General Hospital the original atrium remains, flanked by a considerable depth of the original building that is now offices.
The Medical and Related Sciences (MaRS) research towers book-end the original hospital, east and west, and rise just eight storeys to the south of it, allowing the 1913 building to stand proud, forward and between the 21st century glass blocks that frame it.
WEST TO QUEEN’S PARK/UNIVERSITY AVE., SOUTH TO UNIVERSITY, E SIDE
(Buildings on University require return from south of Dundas to Queens Park. May be avoided by walking north on Queens Park, east side (past Provincial Legislature) to campus of Victoria College. Cross the campus, exit on north side on Charles Street.)
STOP 17: HYDRO ELECTRIC POWER COMMISSION, 610 UNIVERSITY AVENUE G. W. GOUINLOCK
ARCHITECT 1915 PRINCESS MARGARET HOSPITAL, ZEIDLER PARTNERSHIP, ARCHITECTS, 1995
STOP 18: ROYAL CANADIAN MILITARY INSTITUTE, WILLIAM CRAVEN VAUX CHADWICK, ARCHITECT, 1907. RESIDENCES AT RCMI, ZEIDLER PARTNERSHIP ARCHITECTS, 426 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, SOUTH OF DUNDAS
With a pair of cannons flanking its entrance, the façade of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, restored, resembles a death mask at the base of a 26-storey condo tower.
100 years after it was built, the condition of the building was deemed to be so poor there was no option but to “trade it in”.
Seven years later the RCMI reopened, with its long bar, its sombre wood-panelled walls lined with military memorabilia and its magnificent library, rebuilt in a slightly enlarged facsimile of the original.
RETURN NORTH ON UNIVERSITY, EAST SIDE TO QUEEN’S PARK,
continue north around Queen’s Park (past Provincial Legislature) to campus of VICTORIA COLLEGE (1 o’clock on Queens Park Circle.)
CROSS VICTORIA COLLEGE CAMPUS, EXIT NORTH SIDE ON CHARLES STREET
STOP 19: WYMILWOOD STUDENTS UNION (NOW GOLDRING STUDENT CENTRE) VICTORIA UNIVERSITY, 150 CHARLES STREET W. ERIC ARTHUR ARCHITECT, LANDSCAPING AT REAR BY AUSTIN FLOYD, 1954
Eric Arthur founded Architectural Conservancy Ontario in 1933.
1956-1957 he chaired the Toronto City Hall design competition.
EAST ALONG CHARLES STREET TO ST THOMAS THEN NORTH ON WEST SIDE.
STOP 20: 7 ST. THOMAS, C1880S, 2017 (W OF UNIVERSITY, S OF BLOOR W)
CROSS ST THOMAS TO EAST SIDE.
STOP 21. WINDSOR ARMS HOTEL, 18 ST. THOMAS STREET, KIRK HYSLOP ARCHITECT, 1927 WINDSOR ARMS CONDOMINIUMS, SOL WASSERMUHL FOR PAGE + STEEL ARCHITECTS, 1995
The Toronto International Film Festival was founded in the Windsor Arms in 1976.
Past guests include Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Woody Allen, Richard Burton, Richard Gere, Britney Spears, and Tina Turner.
Featured in the 1973 film, The Paper Chase.
Twice used by Director Atom Egoyan in Speaking Parts. 1989 and Chloe, 2010
NORTH TO BLOOR STREET WEST
STOP 22. UNIVERSITY THEATRE, 100 BLOOR ST. W. A. G. FACEY ARCHITECT, ERIC W. HOUNSOM INTERIORS, 1949
First film shown here was Joan of Arc starring Ingrid Bergman. Closed after 1986 Toronto film festival, where it hosted gala opening screening of Decline of the American Empire.
Final closure after double bill screening of the first Bladerunner and Mad Max 2. Unforgettable.
Demolition opposed, without success, by mayor Art Eggleton and city councillor Ron Kanter. Façade left standing, supported by scaffolding at the rear, but it deteriorated over the years so much, when redevelopment of the Pottery Barn began, it had to be demolished. Facade today is a reproduction; building under renovation for a new tenant. After a number of years of vacancy that tenant is yet to be found
STOP 23. DOLCE & GABBANA, 111 BLOOR STREET WEST, DATE, ARCHITECT OF ORIGINAL BUILDING UNKNOWN.
Rebuilt with new façade by DK Studio with Atkins + Van Groll Consulting Engineers, 2012
END OF WALK
WEST OF BAY, BLOOR/YONGE TTC, LINES 1 & 2, EAST OF AVENUE ROAD