Cross-posted from No Mean City, Alex’s personal blog on architecture.
Coming soon, an improvement to one of Toronto’s best public spaces: Market Street.
The city has approved plans to expand the sidewalk across from the 19th-century main market building. The sidewalks will slope down to the street, eliminating a curb and creating seamless patios for new restaurants. This is all part of the redevelopment of the block on Market Street, from Front to the Esplanade, that’s now being designed by Taylor Smyth Architects.
The developer is Woodcliffe Corporation, and architect Michael Taylor is dedicating the design to his late friend – the developer and Woodcliffe CEO Paul Oberman, who died last year in a plane crash. There is a petition to rename the street after Oberman. Their dream, as the market itself adds retail along this side, is a pedestrian-only street that looks like this:
The city has decided to keep car traffic here, separate by movable bollards. Still it can look good, and I hope the rest of the details come together with the highest quality of design and construction. This is a special place in Toronto – a public square, essentially, with 180 years of history.
And it would be a worthy tribute to Oberman was a very special example of his professional breed. I met him a few times and found him charming and charmingly low-key – but evidently he was very good at getting a deal done and bringing his vision to life. That vision was compatible with a more attractive and urban streetscape. As the head of Woodcliffe, a private company, he bought, improved and profited from some of Toronto’s best historic buildings: the Flatiron and 10 Scrivener Square (aka the Summerhill LCBO) among them. In the area he built the King James Place complex, led by Michael Taylor and Shirley Blumberg at KPMB, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is a gem.
Oberman was the kind of enlightened developer, with a real sense of community and city-building, who improves the world with their work.