Tag Archives: manufacturing
by Amy West
Liberty Village is a unique community located in Toronto’s West End that features diversity framed within a historical district. It’s bordered by King, Dufferin, the Gardiner Expressway, and Strachan.
Liberty Village has grown significantly over the past two years, both in new residential and office spaces. Because the neighbourhood is an abandoned industrial area, these developments have primarily been built inside old factories. It has become a trendy spot for young professionals who are pushing further west into less established areas, while remaining a short ride from the city core.
Throughout its history Liberty Village has undergone social and economic transformations, but what has remained are the unique Victorian-era industrial buildings, which have made this area a memorable visual link to Toronto’s past.
Beginning in the late 19th and continuing into the 20th century, this area was a major manufacturing centre in Canada. It underwent rapid industrial growth during the mid-1800s thanks to its proximity to the railways and harbours. By the turn of the century, a mixed collection of ramshackle wooden buildings gave way to massive brick structures – the heart of Canada – industrial revolution.
The district was also home to industrial institutions. Central Prison, set back from Strachan Avenue, was built by the province in the early 1880s, not only to incarcerate inmates, but to put them to work in the hopes of profiting from their labour. It closed in 1911, but the old chapel can still be seen at the corner of Pirandello and East Liberty Streets.
The area was also the site of the Andrew Mercer Reformatory and the Ontario Reformatory Facility for Females. Ironically, Liberty Street ran between the two prisons. The Mercer Reformatory was torn down after being condemned in 1969 and is now the location of Lamport Stadium.
North of Liberty Street on Dufferin was a factory built in 1916 by the Russell Motorcar Company that manufactured fuses used in bomb shells in World War I. South of Liberty Street was the Dufferin Liberty Centre. It manufactured electrical lights to send overseas during and after World War I.
In 1881 John Inglis and Sons opened facilities on Strachan and Hanna avenues, thus expanding its successful business of building machinery for grist and flour mills. In 1902 it switched to manufacturing marine steam engines and waterworks pumping engines.
Two years later, an American named Major J.E. Hahn purchased the company and manufactured the Bren lightweight machine gun used by British and Canadian infantries during World War II. In 2003 Lifetime Urban Development Group purchased the building and is transforming it into a retail and commercial complex called the Liberty Market Building.
The site at 43 Hanna Avenue was the head office of Irwin Toy. It was transformed by Lanterra Developments into the Toy Factory Lofts, which won the 2005 Greater Toronto Home Builders Association award for Condominium Project of the Year.
Until 1858, Liberty Village was also the site of Toronto’s Industrial Exhibition, which later moved south and was renamed the Canadian National Exhibition.
Today Liberty Village is alive with new companies, new people, and new style – a hotbed of high tech and culture in the new economy, enjoying a revival as one of the fastest-growing employment centres in the city combined with new urban living. The village is an example of smart growth, with residents and businesses expanding together, supported by accessible transportation and a growing retail community.
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By John Bentley Mays – The Globe and Mail
A few days ago, I dropped by a couple of downtown Toronto residential projects that were still twinkles in their architects’ eyes when I first wrote about them a couple of years ago. Both designs â€” the Hudson apartment tower at the corner of King Street West and Spadina Avenue, and the Gardens at Queen, on Bathurst Street â€” have since put on bones and flesh, and are nearing completion. So it seemed a good time to pay a visit, just to check out how the architectural realities have lined up with what I imagined they would be.
Designed for Great Gulf Homes by David Dow, principal in Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Hudson stands in a district of old factories and warehouses near the bottom of Spadina. Globalization long ago swept away most of the manufacturing enterprises that gave the neighbourhood its industrial character, but workaday architecture lingers on to remind us of the past.
As Mr. Dow explained when I wrote up the scheme in 2004, the Hudson was designed to echo its historic context â€” and, indeed, it does so. The flat rooflines of the Hudson’s elements (a 21-storey tower and lower buildings, all joined on the bottom storeys) reinforce the flat-topped skyline of the area, and make the compact complex seem at home among its neighbours.
But despite all its best efforts to be polite to its surroundings, the Hudson is not really one of the blue-collar guys down on lower Spadina. It is lithe and athletic, while the warehouses tend to be chunky. The buff brick â€” an old Toronto standby â€” that Mr. Dow has deployed on the Hudson’s exterior may be a nod to ordinariness, but its use here is elegant, even chic â€” more GQ, in other words, than Truckers News.
It was clear to me from the designs that the Hudson would be more refined than what’s around it. I was less certain, however, of this sophisticated building’s ability to hold its own on the noisy, busy intersection of King and Spadina. Now that the project is done, it’s clear that my hesitation was unfounded. The Hudson, as things have turned out, is a confident, handsome corner monument â€” not imposing itself on the streetscape, but marking an important downtown crossroads with modern grace and modest authority.
The Gardens at Queen, by Chestnut Hill Homes, never had an intersection to live up to, so it could afford to be more playful than the Hudson. And playful it is, in the way a “historical” setting in a theme park so often is: awash in nostalgia, brimming with references to a glamorous past, but, in the end, rather bare under its decor and doodadery.
This project of 177 units in seven 31/2-storey buildings would sweep us away from Toronto to 19th-century Paris, or so its early advertisements proposed. The Gardens, as built, sweep us (if anywhere) to Regency London: The exteriors are pale yellow stucco in the British manner, not Parisian grey limestone. Flights of steps lead to upper-storey entrances, each framed by a ponderous little porch, again in the British townhouse manner. The superficial effect â€” and it is superficial â€” is poshy and stodgy, and as jowly and bluff as an English bulldog.
There is a durable market for this kind of historical fantasia, both downtown and in suburbia, so I expect to be seeing new specimens of it for the rest of my days on Earth. But if architects must provide such storybook pageantry, then let it be done in a spirit of faithfulness to the finest examples of the historical style. The best Regency domestic architecture, for example, is light and trim. The buildings at the Gardens at Queen are overdressed and heavy-handed, and crowned with parapets that, like the other trimmings and flounces, are ostentatious â€” as though we would not otherwise get the point that the project is seriously old-fashioned.
When I talked with Clifford Korman, the architect, about his project two years ago, he said he intended it to be a “catalyst for the neighbourhood.” Whether the Gardens at Queen will energize its rundown Victorian context remains to be seen. But if it does change things, what will it change them into? More historical pastiche? Is this the kind of Toronto we want? Or is it merely the best we can hope for?
As things stand so far, the Gardens is hardly an isolated island of antiquarian architecture in the midst of a 21st-century city. Many other contemporary residential projects around town self-consciously hark back to some style hauled up from the past. If it’s not Second Empire, then it’s bully-boy Victorian or pompous Edwardian. We will know that our city’s architectural conscience has come of age when we see more buildings done boldly in the spirit of the current age.
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by Amy West – New Dreamhomes & Condominiums Magazine
The suburbs meet the city in North York, making it an attractive choice for new homebuyers. Thanks to a new subway extension along Sheppard Avenue, high-rise condos such as Empireâ€™s C-Condos and Tridelâ€™s Pulse are cropping up along the central North York corridor that runs from Finch to Sheppard, while single-family dwellings still dominate east and west of Yonge Street.
Originally North York was known as an agricultural hub made up of scattered villages. It was formed out of the rural section of the township of York. As North York became more urbanized, it was named a borough and later a city. The area boomed following World War II, and by the 1950s and 1960s it resembled other sprawling North American suburbs. To commemorate receiving its city charter on Valentineâ€™s Day, its corporate slogan was â€œThe City With Heart,â€ and it now forms the largest part of the area served by the North York community councilâ€”a committee of Toronto city council.
With a population of around 650,000, the North York of today forms the central part of the northern half of Toronto. Until 1998, it was one of six municipalities that comprised the larger municipal structure of Metropolitan Toronto. That year, the provincial government passed legislation merging these municipalities into a new amalgamated city.
Residents have easy access to a variety of cultural and entertainment venues. Directly beside the old city hall is the Toronto Centre for the Arts, previously known as the Ford Centre for Performing Arts, which opened in 1993. It houses three theatres and features musicals, theatre productions, and other performing arts.
Directly south of city hall in the same complex is the former North York Board of Education building, now home to the Toronto District School Board. To the north in the complex is a mall with subway access. The mall is connected to the North York Central library, the largest full-service library in Toronto. It is a part of a much larger facility that includes a school board work station, swimming pool, snack bar, veterans centre, and hotelâ€”the rooms of which look down on the interior of the mall.
Black Creek Pioneer Village, an authentic 19th-century township, and the Ontario Science Centre, which boasts over 800 exhibits, are North Yorkâ€™s primary attractions. A military base and aircraft manufacturing facility are located at Downsview, although much of the land is now being transformed into a park.
Two of Ontarioâ€™s largest shopping malls, Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Fairview Mall, are in North York along with the smaller Don Mills Centre and Sheppard Plaza. The city is also home to York University and Osgoode Hall Law School, as well as major health-care facilities such as North York General Hospital, Humber River Regional Hospital, and the massive Sunnybrook Hospital complex, which includes a veterans residence and regional trauma centre.
A multitude of sports clubs dot the area, including the North York Storm (a girlsâ€™ hockey league), Gwendolen Tennis Club, and the North York Aquatic Club, which was founded in 1958 as the North York Lions Swim Club and has produced many Olympian swimmers.
The growing popularity of this area can be witnessed by the fact that the section of Highway 401 that traverses it is the busiest section of freeway in North America, exceeding 400,000 vehicles per day and widening to 21 lanes at its intersection with Highway 404.
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