Back in February, I was wandering through the construction site known as the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor. I made a quick post about the intersection’s potential for being a great location for a public square instead of its intended use as a giant condo-business tower (let it be known, I like the design of the tower and think it’ll be a fine addition to the corner if it ever gets built, but I’m skeptical). Some readers agreed, others opposed or had interesting suggestions.
Today, the Star’s Christopher Hume waded into the subject by asking his architect friends Janet Rosenberg and James Brown/Kim Storey for their ideas of what to do with the currently neglected space.
“Yonge and Bloor is a really important spot, and it’s completely uncelebrated,” Rosenberg says. “Putting up another condo there would make it invisible. We want people on the streets, not in their condos. It’s time to look at what infrastructure is and find a new balance.”
Rosenberg’s scheme includes a large but shallow pond. A double row of trees runs parallel to Bloor, another defines the south edge at Hayden St. One area is set aside for tables and chairs, and a number of big stainless-steel spheres are dotted around the site, artworks reminiscent of Anish Kapoor’s “Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
“These are what I call ‘waiting spaces,'” Brown explains. “There are many of them in the city. What do you do with them? Yonge and Bloor is a kind of frontier. Who does it belong to? It belongs to Yonge St. people and Bloor St. people. They’re different. We’d try to understand how these two groups might interact and unleash a collective creativity.”
Brown divides the site into several strips, each a different material or colour. His idea also calls for a “Toronto pavilion,” a collapsible structure with cultural content that could be put up and taken down at will. It would stand two storeys tall along Yonge St., its glass walls acting as an attraction, not a barrier. The large, 3-metre-tall steel boxes in which the pavilion travels would be arranged around the square.
“We want to set up a spatial experience for people,” Brown says. “We want to create breaks and gaps that form a framework. There would also be large clusters of trees in raised planters arranged in ways that suggest walks.”