rfmcdonald: (photo)
The high-rise towers of St. James Town, a neighbourhood inspired by Le Corbusier just southeast of Yonge and Bloor, might have a bad reputation stemming from the towers' substandard construction and the poverty of the neighbourhood. The towers themselves can still look quite stunning, against the background of (for instance) a drizzly day and a cloudy sky.

Towers of St. James Town (1)

Towers of St. James Town (2)

Towers of St. James Town (3)

Towers of St. James Town (4)

Towers of St. James Town (5)

Towers of St. James Town (6)

Towers of St. James Town (7)

Towers of St. James Town (8)

Towers of St. James Town (9)

Towers of St. James Town (10)
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Yesterday morning, I got off from the shuttlebus at Yonge and Bloor and decided to look up. The towers that are on three corners of this intersection are tall, One Bloor East being particularly fetching. The southwest corner that was formerly home to Stollery's is vacant, but I entirely expect it to be filled.

Looking up at the Bay

Looking up at CIBC

Looking past the former Stollery's

Looking up at One Bloor East
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The Financial Post carries Alastair Sharp's Reuters report noting that debt-laden Trump Tower here in Toronto has not received any bids, and that the bank that is its main debt holder is likely to take the building.

The court-run sale of a downtown Toronto high-rise bearing the name of U.S. President Donald Trump received no initial bids and ownership will likely fall to its main debt holder, a letter from the receiver showed.

The court process only indirectly involves Trump, whose sprawling business empire licenses its brand and manages the Toronto property on behalf of the developer, Talon International Inc. But the Trump International Hotel & Tower’s new owner will need to navigate an unresolved dispute over whether they can get out of that arrangement.

No qualified bids apart from a stalking horse offer of $298 million were received for the luxury hotel and condo property by an initial deadline, the receiver, FTI Consulting, said in a letter dated Feb. 21 and seen by Reuters on Monday.

“As a result, the Receiver has determined that the Stalking Horse Bidder is the Successful Bidder,” the letter said.

With no rival bidders emerging, the hotel’s ownership will likely fall to JCF Capital ULC, which on Sept. 29 bought the $301 million owed on the tower’s construction loan, before quickly moving to initiate the sale process.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Looking northwest, Church and Wellesley

In the afternoon light, the condo towers of the Yonge and Bloor area loom over Church and Wellesley. The northwest corner of this intersection is likewise set for a massive transformation, a condoization. This scene will not be here for much longer.
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  • Beyond the Beyond links to a US military science fiction contest.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly notes that journalism is meant to offer criticisms of the president.

  • Crooked Timber has an open forum about the inauguration.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from seminal 1980-era London club Billy's.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper reporting on a superflare on brown dwarf EPIC 220186653.

  • A Fistful of Euros' features Doug Merrill's meditations on 2009 and 2017.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology of the Vietnamese name "Nguyen."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Donald Trump's desire for a military parade.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump as a winner.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on the economics of skyscrapers and notes a skyscraper boom in China.

  • Steve Munro looks at buses and their distribution on TTC networks.

  • Transit Toronto looks at how Exhibition Place work will complicate multiple bus routes.

  • Window on Eurasia notes low levels of Russian productivity, shares a Russian argument as to why Russia and the United States can never be allies in the long term, looks at counterproductive Russian interference in Circassian diaspora institutions, and shares argument suggesting Trump's style of language explains why he wants to forego complicated multilateral negotiations for bilateral ones where he can dominate.

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Writing for WBEZ, Jesse Dukes and Jen Masengarb lead an interesting thought experiment: What will become of Chicago's Willis Tower in 150 years? The answer, they suggest in their fascinating piece, has much to do with what will happen to Chicago generally.

When Chicago was still celebrating the end of the Civil War, the city had a population of roughly 200,000 people. The most memorable structure from that era, the Water Tower, was still three years from construction. Today, 150 years later, the city’s population has grown by more than 1,200 percent, and the city’s tallest building, the Willis Tower, is more than 1,300 feet taller than the height of Chicago’s tallest building in 1866.

This is all to say a lot can change in 150 years. Which makes our question, from engineer Bill Muscat, pretty challenging:

What do we do in 150 years when our current buildings are too old? What do we do with an old Willis Tower?

Bill asked because he’s noticed that some of Chicago’s earliest skyscrapers — buildings he considers iconic — have been demolished recently. The first generation of skyscrapers is about 120 years old, so he picked a timeframe of 150 years, figuring that the Willis Tower would be pretty worn out by then. The tower was originally constructed in 1973 for the Sears Roebuck & Company headquarters, then renamed in 2009 by Willis Holding Group, who obtained naming rights as part of a lease agreement.

Bill’s question is based on the premise a building can become “too old.” That’s only partially true. The structural steel in a building like the Willis Tower could last for thousands of years, as long as it is climate-controlled and protected from the elements. The building’s cladding and systems (electricity, plumbing, HVAC) can certainly wear out, but they can also be maintained indefinitely, and even updated, as long as the building owners can afford it.

Bill’s question’s appealing because it gives all of us license to become amateur futurists, but in a focused way. As we reported an answer for Bill, we heard that when you think about the future of tall buildings in cities, it’s useful to consider why we build very tall buildings in the first place.

In 1900, architect Cass Gilbert famously described a skyscraper as a “machine that makes the land pay.” While tall buildings are certainly impacted by demand for space, client or city image, it’s economics that truly drives the construction of skyscrapers. Developers seek to maximize the rent that a single parcel generates. Urban districts with expensive land tend to have tall buildings, because those buildings have more floors, more square feet, and therefore, more revenue potential.

But calculations about whether a particular skyscraper “makes the land pay” are deeply entwined with the fate of the building’s immediate neighborhood, and the city in general. The building, its neighborhood and its city — each can change, and so can the relationships between them.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Fort York, looking east #toronto #fortyork #skyline

When I was solicited by Flickr to submit my best photo to their Your Best Shot 2016 group, it took me only a moment for me to make my choice.

The above photo is a full version of a squared-off photo I took on Instagram late this May, while I was exploring Fort York on Doors Open. Beyond the low stone wall of the fort's northern rim, everything stretches out: First the rest of the fort, then the glittering condo towers of the waterfront and the CN Tower. This photo is the background image I use on my various mobile devices: It just works that much for me.
rfmcdonald: (obscura)

I found this black-and-white photo depicting the Toronto skyline circa 1971 at Tumblr's Fuck Yeah Toronto. I could not find a source for this image, which is a pity since it does provide a lovely overview of downtown Toronto in the early 1970s. The skyscrapers of the Financial District are mostly there, but the CN Tower is still under construction and vast wastes stretch out to the Lake Ontario shoreline.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
Enduring mist, 2 #toronto #yongeandeglinton #condos #tower #clouds #fog #mist

There was heavy fog yesterday all along Yonge Street, from the downtown to the midtown. Even in afternoon, tall towers like these were cloaked.
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  • Antipope Charlie Stross imagines future directions of evolution.

  • Anthropology.net reports on a reconstruction of the vocal tract of Iceman Otzi.

  • blogTO notes the temporary return of the Dufferin jog owing to construction.

  • Centauri Dreams considers asteroids.

  • The Dragon's Tales reports on the expected crash of China's Tiangong-1 space station.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that San Francisco's Millennium Tower is sinking into the ground.

  • The LRB Blog notes Brexiteers' use of the Commonwealth.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at what might be the beginning of culture wars in Mexico.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy talks about the need to make it easier for Americans to move.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Lukashenka wants to "Belarusianize" the clergy of local churches.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
Summit #toronto #skyscraper #condos #tower #aura #clouds #sky

The summit of Toronto's Aura tower at College Park is lofty indeed.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Jennifer Pagliaro's article in the Toronto Star explores the political mechanics behind the impending construction of a super-high condo tower at Yonge and Bloor. The City of Toronto lacks much control over the process, it seems.

An unprecedented development — an 80-storey Toronto condo tower that will be second in height only to the CN Tower — sets a new standard for density at a crucial downtown intersection. Those extremes have created schisms at city hall over more than a year, during a planning process that has left key questions lingering: How much is too much? And who decides?

What occurred with this tower, which Yorkville developer Sam Mizrahi has dubbed “The One,” does not reflect how all building applications are dealt with in this city. But it is an example of how, some councillors say, the city is being built higher and higher, under duress.

As real estate wars see developers buying smaller and smaller parcels of land at rising prices, they are increasingly building skyward to cover their costs.

That’s been noticed at city hall. City councillors and staff say developers are applying more frequently to build well above the prescribed height and density for a neighbourhood. Councillors say there is little recourse to accommodating exceptions, with a provincially legislated appeals body capable of overturning council’s planning choices.

With the province in the midst of a review of that powerful body, the Ontario Municipal Board, city advocates say it’s finally time to get serious about removing Toronto from its grasp.

In the absence of reform, this is how one very tall, very dense building got the green light at council.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
There used to be a public square on the northwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton. A relatively unattractive concrete-paneled place though it was, it was still one of the few public spaces in the heart of that neighbourhood. Or, rather, it was one of the few spaces with public access: It belonged to RioCan, proprietor of the Yonge-Eglinton Centre, and existed as long as RioCan's development plans allowed it to. Torontoist's Jamie Bradburn noted in 2010 a campaign to keep the space, to preserve it from development.

That did not happen. What we did get instead was what was predicted, a rooftop patio accessible through the Centre. Urban Toronto's wintertime photos do not hint at the glory of the patio in summer. I found it Sunday evening, reaching it through an elevator hidden in the food fair (southeast corner of the foodfair, if you're curious), and decided to go back Monday evening after work with my camera. Happily, it was sunrise.

This is a beautiful space. Yonge and Eglinton, and Toronto, are all the better for having it. I would be tempted to call it a massive improvement over the previous space but for the fact that it is much more private. I had trouble even finding the accessway to the patio, never mind trying to access it in off-hours when the Centre is closed. It's lovely, but it's also restricted.

Exploring the rooftop patio #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio

Seating #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio

Waterfalls #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #fountain

Looking east #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #eglintonavenue

History on display #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio

Looking south #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #eglintonavenue

Eglinton TTC bus station #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #ttc #eglinton #buses

Southern sunset #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #eglintonavenue #evening

E Condos under construction #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #econdos #condos

Vista #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio

East through glass #toronto #yongeeglintoncentre #yongeandeglinton #parks #rooftop #patio #eglintonavenue
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  • Beyond the Beyond notes some anti-drone activists' efforts to get drones controlled.

  • blogTO reports on the history of the strip mall in Toronto, looks at the abandoned Whitney Block Tower by Queen's Park, and reports from the attic of Queen's Park.

  • Discover's Body Horrors notes the possibility that global warming might lead to the reemergence of anthrax from the Siberian wastes.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes the discovery of exocometary gas in the debris ring of HD 181327.

  • Far Outliers notes the brutality in the Japanese naval academy and reassesses Admiral Yamamoto.

  • Noel Power at The Power and the Money looks at inequality in American history, after Piketty's arguments.

  • Peter Rukavina reports on an interesting art installation in Charlottetown, of floating tents.

  • Savage Minds describes the "silo effect" besetting organizations.

  • Torontoist reports on the first game of cricket in Toronto.

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Torontoist's Mark Mann describes how Toronto's skyscrapers are starting to heighten their toll in birds killed.

It’s hard to know what to care about. Our terrible world offers plenty of options, and, considered all together, they are overwhelming and exhausting, which is maybe why most of us refuse to pay much attention to anything that isn’t directly in front of our faces getting in the way.

This sad fact of human limitation—our wilful confinement to the immediate and obvious—is bad news for animals, whose main skill sets are sneakiness and hiding (swaggering city raccoons not included). Among the all-time great hiders are the millions of birds that pass through the GTA twice annually, who fly by night to avoid detection.

Toronto lies at the confluence of two major flyways, making it a “bird super-highway,” according to Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds. Migrating birds should simply slip past us in the dark. But because they suffer from a condition called “fatal light attraction,” they get stuck on our street lamps and spotlights.

It’s not clear why birds can’t resist light bulbs, but one study suggests that artificial lighting interferes with their internal magnetic compass. So, technically, nocturnal birds aren’t attracted to light, but they reflexively switch to daytime travel mode and then can’t switch back.


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