NO MEAN CITY: Viljo Revell, Frank Gehry and City Hall slideshow

Cross-posted from No Mean City, Alex’s personal blog on architecture.

A special Monday post, in honour of an event at Toronto’s City Hall tonight: the opening of a show that traces the flow of modern architecture between Helsinki and Toronto.  And Frank Gehry is coming.

Toronto’s iconic City Hall  – that’s it up there in the No Mean City header – was the product of an international design competition won by the largely unknown Finn Viljo Revell, who died in 1964. The show at City Hall reveals Revell’s work in Finland as well as the current redevelopment of Nathan Philips Square (see here for more on that project).

The show runs through Sept. 26. There is a symposium Sept. 23 with Juhani Pallasmaa, Brigitte Shim and more talking about the competition, City Hall, Revell and Aalto. The city’s website has full details here. Gehry talks at 8:00 tonight.

City Hall and the work of the great Scandinavian modernists, especially Alvar Aalto, have had a long and lasting influence on this city’s design culture. That includes the former Toronto resident Frank Gehry: He’s talked about the formative experience of hearing Aalto lecture, at the University of Toronto in 1946, when he was a teenager.

To mark the occasion, here’s a gallery of photos of the design competition, construction and the opening of City Hall – all courtesy of Dominion Modern, an archive of 20th century Canadian architecture and design.

An aerial view of the site

City Hall competition entries.

Judging the competition entries.

A model of City hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

Side view of City Hall model.

Construction: setting an exterior concrete panel into place.

The two towers, near completion.

Opening ceremony, 1966.


Most of the pictures are by Hugh Robertson, who did very fine architectural photography through his firm Panda Photography, and documented many of the great works of Canadian modernism. He was the principal photographer of City Hall. Dominion Modern holds his archives – for more examples, see here.

Thanks to John Martins-Manteiga of Dominion Modern.