Lovely lynx time!
Month: August 2022
I’ve spoken many a time about apologies and the amazing power they can have. . But I’m not sure I’ve ever succinctly highlighted the very important distinction that there exists between an apology and an excuse. They are so much not the same thing!
An excuse not only doesn’t take any ownership it actually and actively denies both ownership and self-agency. In some ways it’s even a subtle DARVO, at the very least implying the upset ought to be ratcheted down so your apology can be minimal. More often it goes full bore and implies other party is in the wrong for even being upset with you.
It is not the stuff of a genuine apology.
If moving to make a genuine apology, including an excuse (or, worse, multiple excuses) is even less productive than trying to include an explanation in the apology. At least an explanation can indicate some desire to do better in the future, in a kind of “hey, I know that caused this and hopefully I will know better in the future” kind of way.* An excuse however demonstrates no empathy, no care, no concern, and no chance in heck anything’ll be different in the future. It’s pure avoidance and blame throwing.
So an important pair of distinctions to be mindful of! As we often have few good role models when it comes to apologies** we default/resort to that what we have seen and know, which is usually explanations and excuses. As opposed to acknowledging what we’ve done, really getting the impact of what we’ve done, genuinely indicating we recognize it and regret it, apologizing without reservation, and taking what we get.
* Though this kind of knowing rarely makes a difference…
Habitat 67 always looks like a bit of a lark, like someone having fun with a 3D modelling program or concept art to create this replicating and interlocking set of cubes set in between two bodies of water. And, in some ways, it is… though not quite a lark, but instead a master’s thesis project in Architecture. A thesis project that, by a stroke of fortune, was built and today still stands as something quite unique.
Funnily, as I’ve been posting so much of the work of BIG architects, you can see their precedent (and likely inspiration) in Habitat 67 with their repeating forms and using the units around and below as landscaped garden terraces (though here, in the strong Montreal winters, many are covered in solariums).
Besides the crazy assemblage, it’s the cantilevered parts of the building that never ceases to catch the eye, the cubes seeming to be suspended in mid-air, again giving that impression of a 3D conceptual model stuck in mid-simulation, or one where the laws of physics has not yet been implemented.
Despite having some wear and tear, the complex is still going strong.
Delightfully I was leaving through some older architecture and design magazines and came across this cool article by the architect’s son, who lived in the complex in his youth. It’s a nifty little bit of insight into something so iconic. Worth a read!
Wrapping up my tour of Massey College, given that this was Toronto, no surprise at discovering one of the building’s residents! Just going about their daily duties…
There is great beauty in the simple* act of bearing witness. To just be, and be there, for another in what they are going through in that moment. Not to fix. Not to provide advice. Not to agree. Not to negate. Not to do something. But to just be and acknowledge and honour the emotions and feelings and thoughts and to honour each other in our shared humanity.
In that there is also a great power in the simple act of bearing witness. To allow what is there to pass, to open, to become a clearing, to allow love and beauty and empathy and verve and whole heartedness to arise once more.
It is a beautiful moment of generosity, of empathy, of connectedness, and of who we all are together.
(I was fortunate to be able to provide this once, to a lone person crying within a large crowd. A few of us were drawn to them, crouching down and reaching out with a single hand, wordlessly lending our presence and our attention. Bearing witness to and honouring their anguish, and in so doing honouring that for what or whom they were anguishing for. As their storm subsided we began to leave, one by one, still silent, leaving with them as they returned to the present, serene and smiling.)
* Simple in that it consists only of being present and attentive and for the other. Not-so-simple if we are not used to being present, or not facile with being vulnerable, or become distracted by our inner chatter or judgement or make it about ourselves or anything of that sort. But when we practice mindfulness and work to transform and self-cultivate and remove our own baggage and barriers we are not only more available for ourselves but for others as well.
Alright, after our look at the exterior it’s time to head inside!
What’s immediately cool is that the inside speaks the same language as the outside, both in brick and in the sculptural concrete, with the addition of wood, and all embellished with the restrained but lovely arts & crafts-like detailing.
Plus some art on the windows…
…and this very cool light fixture that’s fully incorporated into the equally nice ceiling.
While basement multifaith chapel was redone more recently, its intimate wood vaults continue the tradition. Check out the ribs as well as the base of the vaults, with sculptural layers, joints, and more to subtly ornament the structure and the space. Plus the integrated light fixtures along the base that allow the vaults to glow and separate themselves from the walls all around.
Though now used less often for this purpose, this thesis defense room might be a bit intimidating… fortunately that glowing inverted dome of spiral pattern goodness might provide some levity.
The pièce de resistance is the dining hall. Even coming up the stairs you know something cool is happening. The space expands dramatically above you with the hall awaiting through a sculptural portal.
Once inside you’re treated to all its expansive and illuminated glory where all we’ve seen so far comes together in brick, concrete, and wood all within a multitude of sculptural forms and carved detailing. Inspiring enough that it was featured in Star Trek: Discovery season 4 episode 4!
Such a gem of a building. Engaging and welcoming, warmly crafted and articulated, and has a great spatial sense throughout. A definite boon for those in residence… I know I would’ve loved living there while I was in university. Great stuff!
Massey College by Ronald Thom
Did you know that the centre of the CN Tower is hollow? In the middle of it’s three splaying legs is a hexagonal core; the same one that we can see continuing straight up above the first/lower observation pod to the base of the second/upper pod. Which means is that this is an open shaft that runs from the ground to the base of said pod, roughly some 335m (1100′) high. And it. Is. Most. Spectacular. Looking so much like some giant science fiction construct, like a huge accelerator or the central spine of a space installation. It’s awesome, in both senses of the word.
Unfortunately… that’s not entirely true anymore. In 1997 the original location for the egress stairs (yep, the CN Tower has a set of fire escape stairs) was taken over to install an additional pair of elevators, and the stairs were moved from their outer perch to within the core. I don’t think they take up the whole thing, but the amazing hexagonal vista is now a truncated one.
(Want to hear another amazing thing about this core and the tower as a whole? This entire concrete structure was done using a moving slipform that slowly moved upwards about 6m per day, supported by the very structure it was building. Segments were removed from the slipform as it rose to create the tower’s iconic shape, including the final hexagonal shape that rises all the way to the base of the upper observation pod. Amazingly it only took 4 months for it to reach that final height, and it was done so accurately that the whole thing is only 29mm off from being perfectly vertical.)
“The solution to wrongly worshiping individuals
is not to change which individuals you worship.”
When I visited home a few months ago, I had the fortune of being able to tour Massey College, a graduate residence at the University of Toronto. Though built in 1962 I embarrassingly only learned about it a few years ago and had been wanting to visit ever since.
Right away you can see what captured my interest – it’s a lovely modern interpretation of an arts and crafts expression that also has a touch of Wright in it.
This all starts with the highly articulated brick walls, shaped into strong geometric forms that are further punctuated by openings or careful detailing, such as the copper caps or window sills, or even more intricate details such as the amazing metal work at the corners and the entry gate that could double as its own piece of artwork. (The cone does, admittedly, detract a bit…)
Crowning the clean lines of this base is the concrete and glass latticework that features sculptural flourishes and flair. (These give me vibes of the kind of sculptural work Wright did at the Hollyhock house.)
The whole thing is built to enclose a large central courtyard punctuated by a clocktower that reaches its sculptural fingers to the sky.
The whole affair has a great rhythm, with mass and bold slabs that never feel over scaled that all play nicely off the intricate and highly carved insets, all with a strong vertical emphasis. Very sweet piece of work, that only gets better on the inside… I’ll post that part next week!
Massey College by Ronald Thom
(Who, interestingly, also did many of the most famous buildings at Trent University.)
Coaster Wednesday, Addendum
When I went to Great America last Wednesday I already knew about how the owner had sold the land with a leaseback, thus putting a definitive timeline on shutting down the park.
I had thought that was because of a cash crunch or something they needed to fill. Which would suck, but the market is hot still here and it would bring in a lot of quick cash, so, OK.
But no. It was not done for that. It was done to pump their bottom line so they can give out stockholder dividends again. (This isn’t hidden, by the way — they state it straight up in their press release.)
It wasn’t done because they needed the cash to stay solvent. It doesn’t seem it was done because this park was losing them a tonne of money. It wasn’t done to improve and elevate the experience for more fun and entertainment, either at this park or others. It’s major goal is only to give money away, mostly to those who already have lots of money.
By closing a park that has been a fixture of fun for the local area since 1976 and could have continued to bring in revenue for many years to come. (Not to mention that by selling now they are also depriving themselves of further land appreciation.)
Which truly sucks, and I say is a sucky way to run a company.