Tuesday night's Star Talks lecture series at the Toronto Reference Library featured theatre impresario David Mirvish in conversation with the Toronto Star's Christopher Hume talking about the proposed Mirvish+Gehry condo project at King and John Street. Hume provided a gushing introduction of both Gehry and Mirvish and their plans to build three massive 80-storey condos with 2,700 units in the lively Entertainment District. Hume who gushed over the architect (but never call Gehry a "starchitect") credited him with popularizing architecture in the late 20th century with his work on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. According to Hume, Bilbao was like the Hamilton of Spain before Gehry's arrival in Bilbao.
Mirvish who seemed frustrated by the city's planning process made a convincing case for the project. His frustration stemmed from the planning departments inability to make decisions, since they are concerned about setting a precedent for future developments. Allowing Mirvish to demolish his designated heritage warehouses would set a precedent for other developers to do the same. Hume went on the offensive on this point calling some of the city's current work to preserve heritage buildings a façadism or "facadectomy."
Mirvish seemed genuine in his desire to build a set of iconic structures in the city and his intent to use the project to create a new neighbourhood at King and John. The proposed condo development would finance the Mirvish+Gehry, also creating a public space in the first six-storeys of the development. The development would include a proposed Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) space, upscale retail shopping, and an art gallery to house Mirvish's art collection. Mirvish is most passionate about the art gallery space which he discussed at length. One audience member asked if the project will still go ahead as planned to which Mirvish answered: "Frank and I are doing our best, and we will do everything we can to continue to move forward to build something of distinction." Mirvish is hoping to avoid going to the Ontario Municipal Board for a final decision.
· While Toronto Debates, LA Gives Gehry the Go-Ahead [Curbed Toronto]
· Back to the Drawing Board for Mirvish+Gehry? [Curbed Toronto]
· See Actor Patrick Dempsey's Frank Gehry House [Architectural Digest]