300 Bloor Street West

When people travel across oceans to see the Parthenon in Athens, the late Baroque towns of southeastern Sicily, or Paris’ Notre-Dame, what they’re really travelling to see is a piece of history. They want to marvel at a particular architectural technique that has endured for centuries. They want to gaze up at structures that feel…

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Enriching The Future By Preserving The Past

When people travel across oceans to see the Parthenon in Athens, the late Baroque towns of southeastern Sicily, or Paris’ Notre-Dame, what they’re really travelling to see is a piece of history. They want to marvel at a particular architectural technique that has endured for centuries. They want to gaze up at structures that feel familiar, yet completely distinct. They want to experience a connection between the past and the present, inticately layered and inextricably linked.

It’s the same reason that today, cities, governments, cultural societies, and civic-minded citizens work tirelessly to protect and preserve heritage sites around the world. Maintaining a strong connection to the past, helps inform the future, and creates more vibrant social, cultural, and architectural communities for everyone to enjoy.

Of course, as the saying goes… one man’s heritage is another man’s landfill. Ok, we may be paraphrasing a bit. But how does the process work to determine what sites are worthy of being saved and which ones can be sacrificed in the name of development? Because it is true that sometimes it may be necessary to tear down the old to make way for the new. But it is equally true that history has an essential role in shaping where we, as a community and culture, go.

Many cities around the world have managed to strike a balance between the past and the present, cities where storied houses and contemporary structures co-exist and create a textured cityscape where both young and old feel at home. In Toronto, that balance continues to evolve.

Developers and architects are constantly searching for new ways to celebrate heritage and landmark buildings within the streetscape, whether through ensuring unobstructed views of historic architecture, restoring heritage elements, or integrating heritage sites into the public realm. Some of the cities oldest buildings – including Old City Hall built in 1899, the Flatiron Building built in 1892, the Robert Simpson Co. Building completed in 1896, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres which opened in 1913, even the historic Wychwood Barns, originally a streetcar maintenance facility commissioned in 1913 – still play an active role in today’s urban landscape, providing spaces for people to engage and interact with the city, their communities, and each other.

The key to effective heritage conservation is remembering that a city is not a museum, filled with static artifacts too precious to touch. A city is a living, breathing, evolving organism that, by its very nature, must adapt to the people who call it home. To quote prominent architectural critic, Ada Louise Huxtable,

“What preservation is really all about is the retention and active relationship of buildings of the past to the community’s functioning present. The accumulation is called culture.”

 

300 Bloor Street West

In 2016, when City Council approved The Bloor Street Bike Lane Pilot Project, they expected an uptick in two-wheeled commutes along one of Toronto’s busiest streets, but no one anticipated just how popular the project would be. In just one year, the Bloor Street bike lanes became the second-most travelled lanes in the city, behind…

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Bloor Street Bike Lanes Make Commuting Easier Than Ever

In 2016, when City Council approved The Bloor Street Bike Lane Pilot Project, they expected an uptick in two-wheeled commutes along one of Toronto’s busiest streets, but no one anticipated just how popular the project would be. In just one year, the Bloor Street bike lanes became the second-most travelled lanes in the city, behind only the Richmond-Adelaide route. And, after a one-year pilot, council voted again – the bike lanes are here to stay.

Councillor Joe Cressy (councillor of the Trinity-Spadina ward, home to 300 Bloor Street West), was a major supporter of the bike lanes. After the final vote he told reporters that council’s decision to keep the lanes on one of downtown’s major streets marked a “tipping point” in efforts to build cycling infrastructure in Toronto.

“Today’s decision I think puts to bed the old debate that it’s bikes versus cars, or bikes versus business. What this vote and the staff report in support of it has shown is that when you build a bike lane and you design it well, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

A 2017 article in Torontoist.com lauded the project, stating, “Bloor today sometimes evokes images of bicycle-friendly cities in Europe.” That’s a direction most people support. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, even Montreal all make the list of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. It’s not a coincidence that these cities are also some of the most highly-regarded in terms of quality of life. With increasing urbanization, more and more modern cities are trying to juggle convenience, connectivity, safety, and wellbeing, keeping their citizens healthy and living well. Bike lanes are part of the answer.

Not only does biking help people stay active and reduce their carbon footprint, but the Bloor Street bike lanes provide new ways for people to engage with the city, get outside, and interact with the urban landscape. They also ensure that those people remain safe on the road. The City of Toronto survey found that roughly 5,220 riders use the lanes on an average weekday – an increase of 49% compared to before the lanes went in – and that the lanes improved safety and reduced conflicts between road users by 44%.

Bloor’s bike-friendly lanes are part of a 10-year cycling network plan that will see up to 560 kilometres of separated cycle tracks or bike lanes installed by 2026. Highlights include bridging east-west corridors (including the current Bloor Street stretch from Avenue to Shaw, with an East-end component between Church and Sherbourne); providing links between existing bikeways; connecting paths to city parks, green spaces, and the waterfront; and creating direct connections to over a dozen TTC subway and rapid transit stations, allowing riders to forgo a car completely.

In the end, embracing bike lanes on Bloor is just another reflection of the diversity that defines Toronto. Carving space for a two-wheeled commute, alongside regular motorists and pedestrians exploring neighbourhood boutiques, makes for a more interesting, more vibrant, more textured community. With the added bonus of feeling the wind in your hair.

300 Bloor Street West

We spend a lot of time interacting with architecture – from the buildings in which we live, work, and play, to the spaces we move through, to get from A to B – but we don’t often stop to consider the way in which architecture affects the way we live. Good design can improve our…

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9 Stunning Atriums Around The World

We spend a lot of time interacting with architecture – from the buildings in which we live, work, and play, to the spaces we move through, to get from A to B – but we don’t often stop to consider the way in which architecture affects the way we live. Good design can improve our quality of life. Sometimes it’s in spaces that encourage social interaction and support a connection with neighbours, strangers, and friends. Sometimes it’s in the presentation of natural light, giving us a stronger connection to the outdoors, through all four seasons. Sometimes, as with the case of the atrium, it’s both.

Atriums (or ‘atria’ to use their correct plural term) have been around for centuries. The Romans (who knew a thing or two about architecture) used them to provide light and ventilation to interior spaces. Today, architects use them as a tool to help bring a building to life.

The plans for 300 Bloor Street West include a stunning central atrium, a brightly-lit, multi-use space where residents and visitors can work, mingle, and interact under natural light, twelve months a year. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some extraordinary examples of atria from around the world.

Macquarie Bank / Sydney, Australia

This ten-storey atrium features 26 distinct ‘meeting pods’ that support the collaborative working style at Macquarie Bank.

Atrium City Hall / The Hague, Netherlands

This Richard Meier-designed space in The Hague city hall offers year-round free events including concerts, lectures, and exhibitions. Light streams in from all sides and through the glass roof, reflecting off the minimalist white walls.

Parque Toreo / Naucalpan de Juárez, Mexico

The atrium in this mixed-use complex mimics “a great park.” Visitors circulate among fountains, trees, retail, and open spaces, providing a site for social encounter and interaction.

Federal Center / Seattle, USA

The redevelopment of an existing warehouse led to a high-performance, energy-efficient building with a “commons” at its heart. Reclaimed timber is a focal point in bridges and stairs that connect people across the building, and create informal seating and work areas to encourage communication and collaboration.

De Petrus Library, Museum and Community Center / Vught, Netherlands

In the Netherlands, a 19th century church has been renovated and redeveloped into a multifunctional centre that blends a library, museum, bar, and shops into one large open public space. CNN aptly noted that the new design helped the library reinvent itself as “an establishment for the modern age.”

Äripäev Office / Tallin, Estonia

Don’t let the umlauts throw you off, the atrium at the Äripäev Office in Estonia’s capital is actually strikingly simple. Using birch veneer, plywood boards, and existing concrete posts, beams, and ceilings, the space highlights the unique building construction, while abundant natural light and intermittent trees create an outdoorsy feel.

UN City / Copenhagen, Denmark

At the United Nations office in Copenhagen, a daylight filled central atrium connects the lobby and the offices. A dramatic sculptural staircase is a symbol of the UN’s work to create dialogue, interaction, and positive encounters between people in all parts of the world. It also inspires employees to take the stairs, encouraging a healthier quality of life.

Edgar Street Towers / New York City, USA

Light and air quality in these Manhattan towers are improved via daylight channeled through the central branching atrium and bio-filtration terrariums that act as the buildings’ lungs and provide clean air to occupants.

Burj Al Arab / Dubai, UAE

The nearly 600-foot-tall atrium at the Burj Al Arab is the tallest in the world. No detail has been ignored – even the undersides of tier after tier of semicircular balconies reveal a spectrum of colours, creating a visual delight for viewers in the lobby below.

300 Bloor Street West

Many designers, curators, and editors have long made the argument for fashion as art, but Winnipeg-based Métis artist Jaime Black has taken things one step further with the REDress Project. For nearly a decade, Black has been hanging hundreds of red dresses on campuses and public sites in cities across the country, a visual reminder…

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BSUC Shows Support for Canada’s Missing Indigenous Women

Many designers, curators, and editors have long made the argument for fashion as art, but Winnipeg-based Métis artist Jaime Black has taken things one step further with the REDress Project. For nearly a decade, Black has been hanging hundreds of red dresses on campuses and public sites in cities across the country, a visual reminder of the estimated 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

While the project is now a permanent exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, satellite installations continue to be an important part of the work, with Black’s full support. “I don’t want to be the sole proprietor of anything,” she said in a 2017 interview with Toronto Life, “especially something that can build conversations all across Canada. My goal with the work is for it to be seen by as many people as possible. It’s about people using their own talent and creativity to interact with the symbol and create connections in their own communities.”

Earlier this summer BSUC joined the conversation with a REDress installation on site at 300 Bloor Street West (a joint initiative with Church of the Redeemer and Trinity-St. Paul’s). The signature pieces in shades of scarlet, vermilion, and ruby, were obtained through community donations (a tradition since the very first installation in 2011) and “evoke[d] a presence through the marking of absence” (an excerpt from Black’s artist’s statement).

“People feel haunted by the dresses,” says Black, “they feel moved by their presence. It becomes a space for us to educate those who may not know what’s going on, and it opens up a space for people who are experiencing violence to share their own stories.”

According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Aboriginal women are almost three times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Aboriginal women, and nearly half of these cases remain unsolved. In 2016, the federal government launched an independent national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) with the goal of creating a safer environment and shining a light on the truth through artistic expressions like the REDress Project. BSUC was proud to take part.

For 130 years, the church’s mission has been to create safe and welcoming environments, and a space to support the community. The crimson flags that hung in the courtyard this summer were a reminder that this mission is still relevant today.