Down On The Town
by Alexander Oolo
Everyone’s an insider!
May 26 & 27, 2001 saw the 2nd time that the DOORS were OPEN in TORONTO (www.doorsopen.org)
Presented by The Toronto Star, Toronto Culture, Heritage Toronto, Toronto Heritage and Culture Foundation, CBC Radio One, Rogers Television and the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid, this unique celebration of architectural milestones gave everyone the opportunity to gain insight into Toronto’s 100 finest buildings – many not normally open to the public.
But it was not only the Old Toronto that was being featured. Doors Open Toronto did also celebrate its structures by which Toronto steadily emerged as a 20th century Metropolis.
An earlier example of this can be found at 32 Davenport Rd. Initially built as a service station in 1923 and home to Moriyama & Teshima (architects) since 1966, its multi-level interconnected light-filled spaces already suggested what changes and expansion the City of Toronto was still in for.
One such development was 50 Park Rd. Completed in 1954 and designed by fabled John B. Parkin Associates, the leading modernist firm at the time, it functioned as the 1st permanent home to the Ontario Association of Architects. Undergoing several structural changes, the building did not regain much of its original openness, simplicity and spatial clarity until it was sold to Roger du Toit Architects in 1992.
Accessible year-round, the Galleria of Toronto’s breathtaking BCE Place (181 Bay St.) has to be the highlight of any tour of Toronto. Santiago Calatrava’s (1992) timeless steel and glass canopy created a ground-level atrium that ultimately represents Toronto’s graduation into a truly global Metropolis. Essentially, Galleria’s space, height and generosity in structure signified Toronto having arrived – at least within the twentieth century.
But Doors Open Toronto (DOT) is more than just a chance to peak into the functionality and layout of its many significant buildings. It is also the very stuff of what the collective psyche of Toronto is made up of. Namely, a meeting place where people are made to feel welcome, are made to feel at home – be they natives or guests to our fair City of Toronto.
For Toronto locals the experience of Doors Open Toronto was a perfect opportunity to rediscover what their present-day city is all about; what it has managed to develop into: Namely, to reconnect with the core of ones city (most sites were featured in downtown TO) as intensely as during DOT will likely rekindle a desire to discover more of it - all over again. Since such a process is perpetual in nature it will inevitably lead to more quality-of-life for everyone involved = the City will rejuvenate from within.
To our guests, to the tourist that comes here DOT just confirms everything they have heard about Toronto. A place that is truly open, friendly, welcoming. They will see this reflected in the city’s buildings and road system, as it is easy-to-follow, uncomplicated and spacious. I believe that Toronto now is at the threshold of becoming discovered by the world over – with or without the Olympics, by the way.
Torontonians will certainly be ready to welcome them - come one, come all - for it is in their nature to seek out sharing the self and learning from the other. That is innate to our nature as a people, and always will be.
Welcome to Toronto. (www.city.toronto.on.ca/)
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