Architecture

Frank Gehry pays his respects to hometown with boxy tall towers

Frank Gehry pays his respects ...
The King Street West project's taller tower will rise to a height of 298 m (977 ft), while the smaller one will reach 262 m (859 ft)
The King Street West project's taller tower will rise to a height of 298 m (977 ft), while the smaller one will reach 262 m (859 ft)
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On completion, King Street West will include new space for the OCAD University as well as commercial, retail, and residential space
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On completion, King Street West will include new space for the OCAD University as well as commercial, retail, and residential space
The King Street West project's taller tower will rise to a height of 298 m (977 ft), while the smaller one will reach 262 m (859 ft)
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The King Street West project's taller tower will rise to a height of 298 m (977 ft), while the smaller one will reach 262 m (859 ft)
"With this project, I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city and referential to the Toronto that I once knew," says Gehry in a press release
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"With this project, I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city and referential to the Toronto that I once knew," says Gehry in a press release
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Two eye-catching skyscrapers designed by Frank Gehry are slated for the high-profile architect's hometown in Toronto, Canada. Resembling a collection of haphazardly stacked rectangular boxes, the project will, assuming it goes to plan, include Gehry's tallest building to date.

Details on the project, named King Street West, are still relatively light at the moment and it's actually a redesign of a redesign. As reported by Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper, there have been multiple delays and big changes to the design since it was first envisioned all the way back in 2012. The most significant new changes concern the skyscrapers' podiums, which have been altered to better blend in with a nearby important building and to ensure views of the nearby Royal Alexandra Theatre and the Princess of Wales Theatre aren't interrupted.

The tallest of the two skyscrapers, the West Tower, will rise to a height of 298 m (977 ft), with the East Tower reaching 262 m (859 ft). This puts both of them up there with Canada's tallest completed skyscrapers, but they won't be the tallest (the tallest is First Canadian Place, as the far taller CN Tower isn't considered a skyscraper). The buildings will contain 84 floors and 74 floors, respectively. Though their textured metal and glass facade is sure to be a head-turner, they look relatively understated by Gehry standards – he's an architect who designed a Sydney building to look like a brown paper bag, after all – and this respectful attitude is obviously deliberate.

On completion, King Street West will include new space for the OCAD University as well as commercial, retail, and residential space
On completion, King Street West will include new space for the OCAD University as well as commercial, retail, and residential space

"With this project, I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city and referential to the Toronto that I once knew," says Gehry in a press release. "I wanted the two towers to each have their own personality, but I also wanted them to talk to each other, creating a dynamic and changing addition to the skyline depending where you were viewing them from in the city. The detailing of the exterior is intended to give the buildings a human scale and hopefully reflect the light and color from the city and the sky around it. In the end, this should be a building of Toronto that I hope will make the city proud."

On completion, the mixed-use development will host new education space for the OCAD University (Ontario College of Art & Design University), as well as multiple office spaces, retail space, and plush residential space.

King Street West is being developed by Great Gulf, Westdale Properties, and Dream Unlimited, and has already started the planning process, though there's no word yet on an expected date of construction.

Source: Gehry Partners

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4 comments
4 comments
buzzclick
With so much office space in the West vacant due to the virus pandemania, is this a good idea?
"The detailing of the exterior is intended to give the buildings a human scale"...say what?
Whatever that means. Coming from the architect who designed Sydney's "Paper Bag", his idea of human scale can be questionable.
Edward Vix
"Hey, look at me!" architecture. That's what Donald Barthelme (the architect father, not the writer son) called things like this.
Marco McClean
Ahem. "With this project, I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city and referential to the Toronto that I once knew," says Gehry in a press release. "I wanted the two towers to each have their own personality, but I also wanted them to talk to each other."

In the picture, they look like they've been arguing. I want the one on the right to turn around, face the other one, say he's sorry, that he didn't mean those terrible things he said, and then I want them to melt against each other, kiss and be sweet and tender, and promise to never fight again. It doesn't matter if it's not true; you have to do what you can in the moment and do your best to be kind and worry about the future later, you know, in the future.

Either that or they're just meerkatting. They look like giant Japanese robot meerkats, and there'd be a gears-on-sand crunchy sound when they wiggle and tip slightly to look this way or that. You can also make the sound by grinding the edges of two terracotta plant pots together.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Everything Gehry does is so wasteful what with his use of exotic materials and odd shapes that drive up construction costs and resource depletion. For instance, Guggenheim Bilbo being clad in titanium. Titanium is actually more plentiful than bauxite used to make aluminum, but it takes ten times the energy to make it.