Architecture Monday

 

The Canada Permanent Trust Building, built in 1931 in Toronto just a few blocks south from the old City Hall (and in amongst what has become the banking district).  A classic early skyscraper, neatly ornate and even lavish, just finishing up a major restoration that’ll have it ready to shine for years to come.

You can also see, just to the left in the photo above, an interesting addition to the classic front.  I’m not sure when it happened, but the pleated glass façade makes me think 60s-80s.  If you check out the floor plans for rent here you can clearly make it out, along with a similar articulation along the back.

Check out the sparse surroundings of 1931 Toronto!  With its strong vertical articulation it must have felt stunningly tall back then.

Ya gotta love the old banking floor, with its high vaulted ceiling and strong ornamentation.

And check out those elevator doors!

The Permanent (new name), originally by Henry Sproatt…  who, oh wow, also designed the Royal York Hotel, Canada Life Building, and the Princess Margaret Hospital!

Philosophy Tuesday

I mention the middle path quite often… OK, I mention it a lot.  It’s such a fundamental principle that applies to nearly all aspects of our lives, the relationships we are in, the systems we create and live under, the functioning of our societies, and so many more areas beyond.  No matter how meandering or far reaching the philosophical conversations I have with someone are, they always seem to return to the middle path, either directly or easily relatable to it.  It’s so good.

So, here’s a common phrase that can help get a sense of what the middle path is as a concept: the sweet spot.  And while the middle path is both broader and more of a process than a single spot, the essence between them is still quite similar.   If trying to find the middle path is proving a bit perplexing, approaching it as trying to find the sweet spot might provide a great launching off point.

(And here this is a true point:  a point of departure.  It’s our first thought, and from there we can remain mindful and well-grounded in what’s so, adjusting as our understanding grows and as situations change, until we are truly walking the full width of the middle path.)

Architecture Monday

Adaptive reuse can always be such a delight, and this is no exception!  A ginormous former postal service mail sorting warehouse turned into a huge new combo of shops, restaurants, and offices, with a huge flexible music venue and topped off by an even huger green roof, complete with urban farm!

Before…

 

Also before…

The strategy is a cool one, cutting away large sections of flooring and roof to create three large atriums capped by translucent glazing, each one named for the sculptural stair within that joins the two levels plus garden roof:  X, O, and Z.  The patina laden character of the warehouse remains on display, especially through the old painted columns that still retain their wear and tear as well as identification markers, all coexisting nicely with the more sleek glass and steel additions.  Not to mention that grand rooftop garden.

I dig this kind of project, where super-solidly built buildings – whose construction feels like it can last another thousand years – and, rather than demolishing them, reuses them by taking advantage of that solidity in creative ways, as was done here through new openings and amenities that the solid structure could easily handle.  And voila, a whole new venue ready for use without debris and energy use of tearing the whole thing down and starting over.  Great stuff.

POST (see what they did there?) by OMA

Philosophy Tuesday

I’m not sure of the best way to present this, so I’ll just dive in here by saying… it can be downright fruitful to look at our holes.

In that I mean that often many of our ways of being, and thus our actions, are in an effort to fill a hole.  Not a real hole in space and time, but one’s dug deep within our views of ourselves.  Holes created in times of stress from our past, holes created when we felt, in that moment, a failure to be enough.  Holes that we have dug deeper and deeper for ourselves over time.  Holes that we are so familiar with that either a) we are sure they are a fundamental part of us, etched into our soul the moment we were squeezed out into the world, or b) they are so omnipresent that, like a foul odor after some time, we don’t even notice them at all anymore.  They’re just us, and that’s just how life is.

We have these holes of all different types, sizes, and depths: Holes of not being good enough, holes of disconnection, holes of concern we’ll be seen as weak, holes of inability, holes of shame, holes of “I’ll never let that happen again”, holes of “If they knew this about me they’d”, holes of lacking and longing and upset and rage and so on.

And with those we go about and be our certain, fixed, ways of being, continually trapped in a straitjacket to produce the results we “know” will help to fill at least one of those holes.

Except that, when we truly get present to it, we have to face a certain and bitter truth: we can try to fill, and fill, and fill, and fill those holes some more, but it’s never enough.  Even though we long for the day where we overcome it and finally get relief, the hole remains.  Our acts of hole filling provide, if we’re lucky, on a fleeting moment of satisfaction and a feeling of agency – and that last one even turns out to be of the false variety.  Every time, we fill, and we return to the same.  Fill, and return to the same.  We cannot fill our holes.

The game, then, is to instead remove the hole.  To realize that the hole isn’t there by some hardcoded structure of the universe, no… we created it.  In that moment of stress, in that moment of feeling failure, we decided something and BAM!  The hole was created.  And, in perhaps the grandest of ironies, each time we tried to fill the hole we reinforced its existence.  Hilariously*, we’ve been digging it deeper.  Gah!

But when we return to the primordial and do the work to transform our relation to that moment in time, we can have the hole not be filled, or changed, but simply disappear.  We remove the hole by simply not digging it.  Our hole transforms and returns to whole.

And with that, like that, all those fixed ways of being, unproductive actions, franticness, stress, and pain dissipate, leaving us free, alive, and bursting out to live wholeheartedly.

 

* Hilarious in the kind of cosmic-laughter-after-it-pisses-us-off-and-oh-my-aren’t-we-humans-just-so-downright-fascinating-and-funny-creatures-and-full-of-foibles?

Architecture Monday

I guess I’ve got a bit of a house theme going here right now, so might as well keep it rolling with this one.  Rather sitting within the landscape, it rests lightly atop it… including with 100% more sheep!

I’ve seen a few houses that use this concept of huge sliding doors to turn the main living spaces into one large breezeway, and that opening to nature can be downright delightful indeed.  Especially if, as here, the back deck saddles up to a lovely tableau of mossy rock.  Equally nice is that the finish on the inside mirrors the one on the outside, further breaking down the boundaries between the house and the landscape in which it sits.

I don’t know exactly what it is about this room, but I love it.  Like living in a sauna, with great clerestory lighting.

A straightforward idea rendered lovely with solid design.

Refuge by CH+QS