Wonder Wednesday

I love the movie Ratatouille.  It’s delicious (pun intended) on so many levels… lovely animation, great and quiet storytelling, risk-taking, it’s all about Paris and food and wine, and it has some wonderfully powerful philosophical moments.

So it was with delight I heard a story on NPR this past weekend that one of the hot things on TikTok of late is a bunch of fans coming forth to craft a Ratatouille musical.  (Or Rattatouisical, if you prefer!)  One even went so far as to create a fake Playbill for the thing, complete with a brilliant illustration of the signature dish on a fork, subtly shaped to look like Remy!

Very fun to muse over and great to see so much excitement and creativity.  Check out the NPR story, and a quick ‘net search will find you all the various TikTok submissions as well.

La fête va enfin commencer
Sortez les bouteilles; finis les ennuis
Je dresse la table, de ma nouvell(e) vie
Je suis heureux à l’idée de ce nouveau destin
Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin

Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin

Architecture Monday

There’s this local office building that’s been catching my eye as I’ve driven by it both while it was under construction and now that it is complete.  Finally stopped to take a walk around it!

At its heart it kinda follows the glass box typology, but in so many ways it is very far away from ever just being a box.  For one, it’s not just a box – a good half of it skews diagonally like a parallelogram.  For two, it is split in two – with each half getting a slightly different expression (while still using a similar language of black glass and steel with the addition of integrated sunshade blades) and the area where they meet being sculpturally demarked.  For three, it’s not just a mirrored surface of undifferentiated glass, with the steel frame being nicely detailed and sculpturally handled, using double mullions, different mullion depths, and those aforementioned sun shades to give it nice articulation, playing with composition enhanced by differing shadowlines.  (Similar in the way that the detailing of Mies van der Rohe’s TD or Seagram buildings make them lauded while other generic glass towers can easily be eyesores.)

All that is what caught my eye during the construction phases.  But what really catches the eye now is that remarkable glass artwork that sits prominently on its prow.  Abstract in its leafiness and rendered vibrant due to the black background, it really works well, avoiding feeling like a billboard or just some giant image slapped wantonly onto the building.  (Amusingly it is very much held onto the building like something resembling the support structure for a billboard!)  It’s a bit of art that manages well to feel like it’s a part of the building.

Architecture lives in our communities, and we live in it.  This isn’t what we might term a “major” or “glamourous” project, but it’s an err to think good design should only live there.  Good architecture is welcome everywhere and makes our built environment worth living in.  Good stuff.

223 North Mathilda Avenue by, unfortunately, designers unknown.  (I tried to find them but haven’t yet – I’ll keep looking!)

Art Thursday

Oh this is neat.  A new production starting up at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto in November (coming over from the UK) that’s creatively inventive and great for these socially distanced times.  Called “Blindness” it’s an auditory only sound installation, with the audience sitting on stage (spread apart, wearing masks) surrounded by simple colour changing lights.  I’m intrigued!  Unfortunately I’m not traveling home this year so I’ll miss it, but if you’re near Toronto this might just be the ticket.

https://www.blogto.com/arts/2020/10/torontos-princess-wales-theatre-reopening-sound-installation/

https://www.mirvish.com/shows/blindness

Blindness transfers to North America

 

Architecture Monday

While the Voxman Music Building’s exterior is fine enough, it’s the spaces within where the project really shines, crafting some wonderful, inventive, and playful spaces that don’t neglect the other senses even as beautiful music is being made within them.

The main hall’s got this expressive ceiling that does triple duty of being a visual focus while also honing the acoustics and providing concealed lighting space.

And if you think I’m going to avoid mentioning the pipe organ on the back wall, well, not a chance!

Even better, there is an entire hall dedicated for pipe organ recitals!  The extra tall space, accented by the recessed wood “arches” and clerestory windows does a perfect job of drawing attention to the instrument of choice, which itself is nicely contrasted yet complemented by the white lattice over the sound-absorbing wall, the tracery paring well with the leaf motif on the light wood organ.

But for me the greatest of these three is the fiery red recital hall, not the least of which because it is both asymmetrical and angled in floor plan, but also for the unusual feature of the giant windows that extend outward from the building’s façade, casting strong light over the stage and bringing out the complex geometries of the wall acoustic treatments, whether red on the one side or deep wood on the other.

There’s lots of great details and design twists happening throughout the new building, where nearly every space has been considered as spaces for performances.  On the whole it’s a grand and exciting performance venue.

The Voxman Music Building by LMN Architects