Today, contentious Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was removed from office following a court ruling in a years-old conflict of interest case. The mayor has made enemies of many urbanists over the years, including Creative Class author Richard Florida, who called him "the worst mayor in the modern history of cities." More recently, Ford drew the ire of Toronto's bike community after making good on a promise to remove bike lanes from city streets. The mayor has vowed to appeal the decision and has the option to run for office again in an upcoming election.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has proven to be a controversial public figure, whether it's unsafe reading while driving, or now, removing Toronto's recently installed bike lanes on Jarvis Street. Yesterday, city crews showed up in large scrubbing trucks to scrape away thin dividing lines from the street, only to encounter a small collection of riders who would not stand by idly. Instead the cyclists chose to lie down, sit, and ultimately blockade the street scrubbing vehicles, eventually forcing them to leave for the day. A subtle part of the infrastructure that regulates a city’s traffic, bike lanes on Jarvis Street in Toronto have been voted out by City Council to make room for a reversible fifth lane meant to improve traffic flow for automobiles. The lanes were part of street safety measures enacted by Ford's predecessor David Miller. Cyclists have been unhappy with the decision declaring that removing the lanes puts their safety at risk. A few have chosen to make their thoughts known—including freelance writer Steve Fisher who noted that, prior to the lanes, he was hit twice by passing cars. The small group of protesters sat in the bike lanes as scrubbing machines approached and attempted to go around them, but a game of leap-frog commenced as protesters again moved themselves down the road ahead of the machines. Removal of the lanes continued again today and currently the dispute remains unresolved. Unable to work at night—due to noise restrictions—the scrubbing crews must complete the removal during the day. Police were on site today in an attempt to usher back protesters and allow the work to continue. One man was reportedly arrested and taken into custody this afternoon as the protest continues. The scene has been carefully observed from coast to coast in the United States as bike advocates worry of potential bike backlashes in local politics. New York has already gone through a lengthy fight over bike lanes installed by Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan along Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and many observers are closely watching political views as the city prepares to elect a new mayor next year.
Starchitects are descending on Toronto. First it was Frank Gehry with his plan for three 80-story skyscrapers on top of an art museum, and now Norman Foster with a massive plan to redevelop the Metro Toronto Convention Centre area adjacent to the CN Tower and Rogers Centre Stadium. Developed by Oxford Properties Group and dubbed Oxford Place, the plan calls for upgrades to the current convention center and four new towers for housing, office space, a hotel, and a casino surrounding a five-and-a-half acre park spanning a railroad. An Intercontinental Hotel on the northeastern corner of the site would be demolished and replaced by two large towers containing a combined 3.1 million square feet of office and residential space atop one million square feet of retail and a massive 4,000-car parking structure. While site renderings are marked as illustrative massing diagrams, some have noted the resemblance of the two towers to Foster's proposal for the World Trade Center, nicknamed the "kissing towers." Overall, Oxford Place's 7.35 million square feet is expected to cost $3 billion, but is contingent on approval of the casino. The City of Toronto must give the final go-ahead before the casino can move forward. [Via Urban Toronto.]
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A sales center on Toronto’s west side shows off a multifaceted approach to fabrication.The new Studio On Richmond condominiums are located in the middle of Toronto’s Entertainment District, an emerging cultural area around Queen Street on the west side. The 31-story building, designed by Toronto-based Quadrangle Architects, includes 8,000 square feet of space that the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) will use as a public art gallery and café. The condo’s 2,950-square-foot sales center needed to reflect the area’s artistic vibe, so interior design firm Mike Niven Interior Design turned to Eventscape, a custom architectural fabricator also based in Toronto, to build a collection of faceted, folded elements to reflect the neighborhood’s personality and inspire potential condo buyers. Each of the presentation unit’s elements—a seating niche, a faceted millwork wall, a reception desk, a folded screen, and geometric ceiling and wall panels—called for a different fabrication technique, and each was made of a different material. Because all of the pieces required exact joints with even reveals, the team began with 3-D design and engineering drawings to determine the size and shape of each piece. To create a cave-like seating area at the center of the space, the team built CNC-routed ribs to define the installation’s profile and provide support horizontally and vertically. Next, CNC-milled templates were used to miter-cut foam that was then covered in bright red wool. On the opposite side, the 17-foot-long curved and faceted shell of the niche is composed of CNC-cut MDF panels coated in high-gloss white lacquer and attached to the frame with small hinges. A reception desk is composed of these same triangular shapes, but in polished stainless steel. The designer envisioned a large screen wall that would form one side of the entrance to the condo’s model suite. Eventscape created the structure by laser cutting long, V-shaped pieces of steel made by brake-forming, a process by which a sheet of metal is bent along a straight axis. Each of the screen’s bolted connections is unique. And because of the unit’s standard double-door entrance, the entire form had to be assembled on-site. A series of angled planes made with white upholstered aluminum frames decorates the sales unit walls and ceiling. To achieve a look of randomness, the team used tilted brackets, adjustable mounting hardware, and aircraft cable to secure the panels. Mirroring the installation’s faceted shapes, a rainbow-colored string art wall stretches the length of the unit. OCADU student artwork decorates this wall as well. Enlarged portions of these pieces are also affixed to some wall panels, a colorful signal of the building’s hope of becoming a local institution.
Toronto's Ryerson University announced plans this week for a bold Student Learning Center designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto. The 8-story structure will mix passive and active academic uses with street-level retail and will serve as the university's front door on busy Yonge Street. The buildings predominantly regular form clad in richly patterned glass has been chipped away at the corners and lifted above the street to provide a more dynamic shape. The main entrance plaza is marked by a similar chipping gesture marked in blue glass leading into a soaring multi-level lobby. Patterns on the glass curtain wall will filter the light quality inside the building. At the core of the building's design was the interplay of introverted study and open collaborative spaces. "The notion that learning is a static, solitary activity is outmoded," said Craig Dykers, Snøhetta co-founder, said in a release. "While it remains important to find places of introspection, it is also vitally important to create places where people can more actively seek knowledge, where social connections can intertwine and where all forms of activity, quiet and loud, can find a suitable home." Expected to earn LEED Silver certification, the Student Learning Centre will feature such sustainable elements as a green roof. The building is scheduled to begin construction later this year with an anticipated completion date in the winter of 2014.