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An image from Frank Gehry’s designs for David Mirvish’s project to remake his properties at King Street West and John St. in Toronto. (Courtesy of Gehry International Inc.)
An image from Frank Gehry’s designs for David Mirvish’s project to remake his properties at King Street West and John St. in Toronto. (Courtesy of Gehry International Inc.)

You said it: Readers weigh in on Mirvish’s vision for Toronto’s entertainment district Add to ...

“I’m a fan of Gehry’s (and Mirvish, too) so I feel pretty comfortable with the proposal. In a city that lets Trump build an ugly box, Gehry should be welcomed.”

– Rob Paynter, London

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“Fantastic! We need more unique towers in this city. The theatre is less than 20 years old. Hardly history like the Royal Alexandria.”

– Donny Chew, Toronto

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“The Mirvishes have made fine contributions to the city, but this project will trash that reputation. While David Mirvish has the right to repurpose or replace his building to arrest financial losses, he has no right to alter the zoning and destroy the fabric of the area just in order to make another fortune. The proposed galleries and classrooms – which could be placed anywhere in the downtown – are cover stories for a grotesquely inappropriate development. This is no more ‘desirable’ or ‘exciting’ than a casino.”

– Deanne Taylor, Toronto

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“Does T.O. need another school in the core? Especially one that would compete with U of T and Ryerson. I would have thought a new venue should include a new and improved theatre district concept. Not much left to do downtown with all of the condos eating up prime real estate.”

– Jason Warren, Toronto

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“This is the upward, forward thinking vision for which Toronto has been searching for ages. It reminds one of HongKong‘s graceful skyline and/or the new towers at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. One can only hope that it eventually gets done!”

– Dean Corll, Houston Heights

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“Call me crazy, but in my opinion, what this city needs is not more condo buildings. We should be preserving (and celebrating) beautiful old, historic buildings in Toronto. They give the city character. One of the things that drew me to this city in the first place was the old buildings, and the sense of character throughout. So, maybe this is the small town girl in me, but whenever I see a new condo building going up, it makes me sad. I, personally, will never live in a multistorey building and do not see the appeal. From a developer’s standpoint, it’s a dream come true and money in the bank, but the whole idea of “out with the old and in with the new” just grosses me out. New is not always better.”

– Julie VanderKloet, Toronto

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“The last thing we need on this stretch of King Street is three more towering condo buildings. Toronto has too much condo development going on as it is, and the traffic situation downtown can most charitably be described as challenging. Adding population density to that part of King Street is utterly unhelpful in terms of traffic congestion.”

– Natalia Witkowsky, Etobicoke

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“Try proposing a development structure that leaves the theatre in place, that would be a reasonable compromise. As the city continues to grow and expand the demand for greater theatre venue space will also grow. Moreover, the value of the adjacent condo’s would surely be higher when they are positioned next to a beautiful theatre.”

– Jonathan Lawrence, Mississauga

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“I like it the way it is, with the relatively low rise buildings. Roy Thomson Hall, David Picault Square, St. Andrew’s Church and the theatres. It’s human and welcoming. I am not anti-skyscraper, but one of the things that makes Toronto so appealing is the mix of low-rise and high. Eighty-five stories will wreck the street. Next thing you know an architect will figure out how to make RTH the “atrium” of a new 100 storey tower – built around it!”

– Mary Jane Wood, Burlington

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“This the dumbest thing I have ever heard! Where is the neirbourhood scale? 80 to 85 stories!! This is not development, this is just another example of a mindless development being pushed by a property owner and/or developer with more greed than vision.”

– Sean Leyne, Toronto

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“It’s a sad day for Canadian theatre, the Princess of Wales is an outstanding theatre and it will be greatly missed. The new Gehry is a project that has great merit and could transform the district, create jobs and possibly help the cultural heart of Toronto and the country, but you really need to include a theatre in the design.”

– Paul Ropel-Morski, Hamilton

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“I like the idea of a major facelift to the area. But does it have to be that tall and what about more green space?”

– Barry Lam, Toronto

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“I’m all for it as long as the complex’s street level integrates well with street life. I would hate to see another condo with no retail space on the main level take the place of the restaurants and shops along that strip. Wall-to-wall condos will curb pedestrian traffic and push people into their cars to shop and dine. The area is known as an entertainment hub and it would be a shame to see it transformed into a pure residential area. Just one block away, the night club district which drew many thousands to the area to dine and party is now filling up with condos whose owners complain about the noise! Many bought into a hip urban area vibe and now want it to become an urban “suburb.”

– Nick Bibassis, Toronto

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“Great cities all over the world are famous for their daring architecture, and Toronto should welcome a native son to create this masterpiece. Critics will no doubt decry this development as they always have with similar bold projects, but those voices often grow silent once a master architect’s vision takes hold in a city and elevates it! Please proceed with the endeavour.”

– Michael Bussiere, Ottawa

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“Yes, this is the bold vision that Toronto needs. I am ready to sacrifice elements of the current built stock of King West as long as this new project is stellar at giving back to the street and is committed to city building in innovative ways. I am excited that Toronto native Frank Gehry will design this major project, and that it will be one of his last big projects capping off a highly prominent career this century globally. He is a very important architect internationally. That makes this great for the new Toronto.”

– Peter Chin, Toronto

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“Frankly, I think they are too high by about 20 storeys, but the concept is fine with me. At the proposed height, the tops look as though they are about to fall off, as would the top of a tower of childrens’ blocks, when they get too high.”

– Neil Baird, Singhampton

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“I do not like the look of them, no elegance or grace, just a bunch of stuff piled on top of one another.”

– Glenn Brown, Toronto

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“Toronto needs bold visions of this kind, and ALSO the determination to preserve the best of what has already been built. There is no shortage of undistinguished buildings in downtown Toronto that would NOT be sorely missed if they were demolished to make way for the bold new visions.”

– Martin Gerwin, Toronto

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“The city needs to keep a lid on the cost of housing. Allowing housing supply to meet demand keeps prices down in a natural, organic manner that doesn’t involve complex, expensive and intrusive government policies and programs.”

– Donald McHattie, Toronto

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“I wish we had people who could and would execute a vision like that in Vancouver instead of being infected by too many NIMBYists (Not In My Back Yard) and lovers of copied glass boxes stuck at 30 storeys. One of the things that has helped transform Toronto into a true global destination, compared with its so-so status in the 1980/90s, is fantastic architecture. I say go for it! Who needs another old underperforming theatre space when a fantastic new magnet of dynamism can replace it? Why not go for 90 or 100 storeys with one tower? Embrace the 21st Century!”

– Paul Schellenberg, Vancouver

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“It’s a better use of space than what is there currently. We have to build up in Toronto, as so many people want to live in the city, this is how cities progress.”

– Barry Bruce, Toronto

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“Just the kind of vision Toronto needs!!! One more step toward being world class. Unfortunate that the city still can’t solve the vision and plan for transit to support such great ideas. One step forward and two back because of the lack of an advanced and integrated transit vision.”

– Richard Kunow, Oakville

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“Why does Toronto need more condos? If this vision concentrated on providing an affordable arts space for all citizens maybe I could get behind it and believe it could be something great for the city. As it stands, building more overpriced condos in downtown Toronto serves to further separate the haves from the have nots.”

– Kirin Wright, Toronto

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“It’s great, I really like it. Time for T.O. to be bold and different. I know its so un-Toronto like, but time to play with the big boys and girls. Only concern would be how the podiums meet the street. I don’t care how high they go. Why not 100 storeys? Keep going Toronto, don’t look back. Time also for new east-west subway line along King or Queen.

– Dom Gaetano, Toronto

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“I’m an architect and I have great respect for Frank Gehry. However, the creative energy to develop this project should be distributed to various architects – even young architects who have a fresh perspective on the city. Gehry’s work is outdated and out of touch with contemporary discussions in architecture and city building. Toronto needs great buildings but great architecture is not about surfaces which resemble toilet paper. Great buildings come from understanding a context and program and responding carefully to the problem.”

– Gabriel Fain, Toronto

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“Good for Mirvish! He brought King Street West to life with his theaters, and I think this is a great next step. Sure he plans to make money from it, but with that will come more people, and a lively King Street. I’ve had the privilege of travelling to a lot of other cities, and I think Toronto is going in a great direction, livening up the core!”

– Jason Stobbe, Toronto

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“Great. Boldness and interesting design – what’s not to like. I don’t think they’ll make much money, but that’s not my problem.”

– Dan Gould, Toronto

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“My initial reaction to the design is that the simple sketches provided so far give no sense of the quality of street-level experience. As for the business proposition, I believe Mr. Mirvish is using the Frank Gehry name to gain support for a density that is not appropriate here. I doubt that either Mr. Gehry or Mr. Mirvish will see the project to completion. There will be another architect of record and another condo developer will build it. So, given the projected softening of the Toronto condo market, it will likely end up like the vision for the Crystal at the ROM, where the glittering vision that we were initially sold ended up as a contorted pile of cheap metal siding.”

– Thomas Hatcher, Toronto

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“There’s nothing ‘bold’ about this. This is, at best, a craven attempt to leverage a whopping huge cash windfall for Mr. Mirvish from what is already a congested, overextended stretch of King Street West. Speaking as a long-time Toronto resident who both works and lives just blocks from the downtown core, I feel I can speak on behalf of my fellow area-residents when I say that we are literally sick and tired of high-density condominium developments – and that no amount of ‘starchitect power,’ no amount of expedient sops – will bring us around. No sale, Mirvish.”

– John Currie, Toronto

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“Toronto suffers from a glut of ‘so-so’ architecture – all the uniform glass boxes with little imagination and cheap execution. it is just about time that we should get another set of iconic towers, to rival the TD Centre. Frank Gehry’s architecture can transform the most abysmal of cities (LA, Bilbao) – it’s Toronto’s time to get his treatment. The buildings will be controversial, due to their sheer size. But hopefully, they will dwarf the ridiculous Metro Hall and other nearby ‘architecture.’ If Mississauga can be bold enough for the buildings some call the best design of the last decade in North America (the ‘Marylin‘ towers), maybe it is time for the stodgy Toronto to reject practical, modest and cheap in favour of brilliant?”

– Robert Tomas, Toronto

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“About time. Torontonians should stop talking about their city as being world class and start acting like it is, by supporting ambitious initiatives like this one. One should also remember that the Princess of Wales Theatre was constructed to be temporary, has no historical significance and is privately owned.”

– Thomas Vesz, Toronto

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“A complex of condo towers isn’t bold. It’s overdone, outdated and unnecessary in that neighbourhood. King Street is already a gridlock at any time of day; this project will only make it worse. Not a good idea by any means. What would be bold in this case would be a multiuse green space. Now that’s bold in an area chock-full of concrete, steel and glass.”

– Karolina Pochwat, Toronto

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“Development in the downtown core is a good idea as it prevents the hollowing out of many American cities. However, such massive development in an established entertainment disctrict should surely also include reincorporating commercial theatre space. Also, given the number of units in the project, consideraion MUST be given to developer support for improvements to the TTC in the core. In fact, ALL condo developments should pay a significant fee to support capital and operating improvements to TTC. Intensification of development and public transportation are intimately connected and MUST support each other symbiotically.”

– Andrew Hazen, Thornhill

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“I’m not impressed. Surely the still fairly new Princess of Wales Theatre could be factored into this vision somehow. I’m pretty sure Frank Gehry could accommodate that. What an awful waste if the theatre is demolished.”

– Robert Harries, Orangeville

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“Yes, this is an exciting project for downtown Toronto. The skyline of Toronto is filled with monied mediocrity at present and Gehry’s playfulness would be a relief, adding signature buildings that would help define Toronto locally and internationally. What also needs to considered, though, is how lower and street levels would animate street life (the OCAD U connection would really help with that) and, in another context, how these buildings would affect the barely adequate public transit networks nearby. But, generally, bringing more people to live downtown seems a desirable thing.”

– Vid Ingelevics, Toronto

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“Overall, I think Toronto needs this kind of initiative – unusually bold in its concept and scale. It will hopefully inspire other creative ventures in its vicinity to effect a needed change in the cityscape. With a few exceptions, Toronto today seems to project a bland sameness of architecture (dull brown or grey brick turn-of-the-century buildings punctuated by boxy skyscrapers and glass block condos) with hardly any spaces or developments to really draw and inspire its citizens – consider the haphazard development along the harbourfront or the missed opportunity with the extremely subdued opera house. I just wish that the Mirvish plan also included a unique theatre or performing arts venue of some kind.”

– Vineet, Bapat, Toronto

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“This iconic stretch of Mirvish’s culture of performing arts on King St. is part of Toronto’s heritage and should be treated as that. Ed Mirvish was a great man with extremely great vision. To dismantle King St. and to reform into condos is something that will be a cultural loss to all Torontonians and our future children. I’ve grown up in Toronto all my life, and I can’t even imagine what the meaning of Toronto is without the Mirvish performing arts building. I can empathize with the idea David has and the revenues that can be produced from such a venture, but none the less, I do not believe it should be at the cost of his father’s and Toronto’s legacy.”

– Vishal Gupta, Toronto

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“For 19 years this theatre housed some of the best large-scale production the city has seen – Miss Saigon, The Lion King, The Sound of Music and War Horse to name a few. And now David Mirvish is trying to sell three condos, an art gallery and an OCAD classroom as a ’cultural destination’? This reeks of corporate greed from a producer who just sold out. When the biggest theatre producer doesn’t support his own theatre, you know there’s something wrong with the arts in Toronto.”

– Matt McNama, Toronto

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“This is fantastic! Let Gehry work his magic! I hope they would go a little more for the culture part and a little less condos. Considering we only get 1,200 hours of sunshine here per year it, would be nice to have a little less shade. Toronto, being not that pretty, would benefit greatly from Mr. Gehry’s work, whatever he does.”

– Steve Stojanovich, Aurora

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“Amazing to think that Mirvish started off as Honest Ed’s to developing a wonderful theatre district. Seems to me like everything the Mirvishs do turns to gold and their hearts really seem to belong to Toronto. So I say “Go Mirvish”. Maybe he could buy the Leafs.”

– Lynne Carlson, Aurora

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“Torontonians always talk about Toronto being a world-class city (and it really does have a potential to be a world-class city) but judging from the negative comments about this project, it shows that Torontonians are not willing to do what it takes for Toronto to realize that potential. Yes, this is a bold vision and Toronto needs hundreds more of these bold visions. The fact that we have to ask if this is a good idea simply tells me that Toronto is still not ready to play with the big boys.”

– Rey Dunca, Toronto

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“I’m against it. Turning commercial buildings into condos can have all kinds of negative repercussions: it could reinforce the trend of jobs moving to the burbs; it could damage the entertainment industry; and it could even trigger a housing bubble. Replacing theatres with condos will of course damage Toronto’s entertainment industry, which will have economic consequences and make the entertainment district less vibrant at night. It is especially sad to tear down buildings that are historic.”

– Maria Amuchastegui, Toronto

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“These blocks of King Street are fantastic as is because all of the buildings (from St. Andrew’s Church+Roy Thomson Hall to the Princess of Wales) are all roughly the same height, giving the area a cohesiveness in scale. David Mirvish and Frank Gehry’s plan would not only deprive Torontonians of a theatre they have come to love, but it would also see the destruction of some wonderful Victorian warehouse buildings, so evocative of Toronto and one of the reasons that make Toronto so interesting to walk around. Any plans for the area should maintain the theatre and restore the warehouses, perhaps bringing them back their red brick exteriors. Toronto’s lost too much of its heritage and trading a theatre for an art gallery does not represent any net gain for the culture of the city.”

– Eliot Perrin, Montreal

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“I think it’s cool that Gehry is on board (I imagine most of Toronto will similarly – and predictably – swoon) and I’m not really adverse to the condos. They look cool. But first impression of the design is that it won’t put Toronto on the map. It’s like the AGO – interesting and deserving of respect but ultimately not remarkable. It’s missing a wow factor. Second is that there are so many crummy parts to the city – why rip up something that already looks beautiful? Mirvish must be losing money on the present theatre, otherwise it doesn’t really make sense to do that.”

– Oliver MacLaren, Toronto

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“When two great minds come together, could anyone expect anything but a visionary project? Toronto lacks significantly in any architectural wonders. The Trump Tower, L Tower and Shangri La are still just boring glass towers like any other being produced around the city. One could only hope that when the project is developed it will create a domino effect and help bring Toronto into the 21st century.”

– John Sedrak, Toronto

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“All it will do is knock down yet more of what little old architecture Toronto has left. I have nothing against the building of this, interesting modern building, but stick on top of the many thousands of bland modern architecture in the city. Torontonians compare their city to New York, Chicago, London. The difference is those three cities have retained much of their older architecture, Toronto has little left.”

-Sean Richards, Toronto

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“While only time will tell whether Gehry’s vision turns out to be great or garish, I think this is a positive move for the city. Although Toronto isn’t lacking for condos at the moment, I don’t understand why everyone is bemoaning the loss of the Princess of Wales theatre. This is not an architectural masterpiece, nor historically significant. The PofW is expendable in a city that has more theatres than it does good performances. I think the development will anchor a corridor that is already moving beyond its historical roots, and embracing TIFF, restaurants, and where T.O. is headed.”

– Justin Sannella, Toronto

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“David Mirvish is proposing that Frank Gehry create an incredible architectural marvel which will include new space for the arts. How can private money being spent on bettering the city be bad? Do I want to see the PoW destroyed, not really. But do I want to see this city offer more in the way of architecture and arts learning space? Yes.”

– Shayna Goldberg, Toronto

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“Finally the condo boom provides some interesting architecture in downtown Toronto! Next up... a subway along Queen Street?”

– Alejandro Lopez, Toronto

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“The only bold thing about this possible development is the disregard it shows toward one of Toronto’s finer theatres. Furthermore King Street’s pedestrian scale continues to be dwarfed by excessive condo development and this scheme is likely to make that condition worse. Perhaps Mr. Mirvish should focus his “city building” development aspirations on a location that truly needs urban renewal help supported by a bold vision. The Honest Ed’s block at Bathurst and Bloor comes to mind.”

– Paul Stevens, Toronto

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