Frank Gehry reveals latest design
for trio of towers in Toronto

| 66 comments

Frank Gehry in Toronto

News: architect Frank Gehry has updated his design for a cluster of three towers in his home city of Toronto.

Planned for King Street West at the centre of Toronto's entertainment district, the proposed gallery and university complex includes the construction of three 82-86 storey metre skyscrapers, atop an expansive art gallery and a learning centre for OCAD University's art history and curatorial courses.

Frank Gehry in Toronto

Moving on from the initial design revealed in October 2012, Frank Gehry envisages the three residential towers with layers of ribbon-like cladding, creating curving surfaces and asymmetrical shapes. Despite objections from the city's planning department, the proposed heights remain unchanged.

The planned demolition of three warehouses and a small theatre to make way for the new buildings also prompted concerns from city officials. In response, Gehry has added a structure of vertical, horizontal and diagonal wooden beams to the base buildings as a reference to the area's industrial past.

Frank Gehry in Toronto

"Toronto has grown to look like every other screwed-up city," Gehry told the Toronto Star. "We're searching for that way of expressing old Toronto without copying what they did."

He continued: "It's not hard to do a skyscraper; but how do you do one that has some Toronto DNA in it? I lived not far from the site. I remember the warehouses. It was the industrial section where the factories were. But we need to bring a new kind of life down there."

Frank Gehry in Toronto

The project is currently set for completion in 2023.

New York architect Gehry is also working on a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington D.C. and a campus for social network Facebook, which he was recently asked to "tone down" and make "more anonymous".

The architect's recently completed buildings include a Maggie's cancer care centre in Hong Kong and the Signature Center theatre in New York. See more architecture by Frank Gehry.

  • http://felixtannenbaum.com felix

    All I see is several dozen (hundred?) ski jumps for the ice sheets that are certainly going to form in a good Toronto winter.

    • michael moore

      OhMiGAWD! How disgustingly AWFUL. This is supposed to be architecture? To me it appears to be realised schizophrenia – in a tangible form.Toronto has outdone itself once again – Gehry’s work is like the Emperor’s New Clothes. YUCK!

  • Fed

    This could look really epic. It's painful and sad to read negative comments about Frank Gehry's work all the time on Dezeen, I'm a big fan and I always see style, creativity and innovation in his work.

    • zizi

      Well, people who don’t have a background in sculpture
      simply can’t get Gehry. That is often the case with architects who have mainly an utilitarian, ie “functional”, vision of the profession.

      This is really a beautiful project.

      • Addikti

        What’s the point if only a select few can high-five each other and everyone else is left in misery? It’s like saying people who don’t have a background in aviation simply can’t see how wonderful air traffic noise is.

      • Gary Walmsley

        EARTH TO ZIZI: I love much of modern sculpture (only a person with zero aesthetics loves it all) but I don’t like this, or frankly any of Gehry’s crush, crumpled and collapsing looking buildings. That’s not my taste.

        Actually, I refine my comment. I could live with the centre skyscraper, but the end pieces—no.

    • pedro

      I totally agree with you. This could be a really epic project and I don’t know if you share my opinion but I think that Gehry’s projects still work better in height! I would love to see this growing up!

    • internautas

      Where do you see creativity here? Innovation – yes, ten years ago when he started using software to design planes or ships or whatever. Ordinary starchitect – found lucky recipe to bake architecture and then copy-paste with some alterations.

    • Concerned Citizen

      It may have been innovative thirty years ago, but now is just the same old crap, over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

      In other words, he has not done anything new in thirty years.

      • Cesar

        And you have not been innovative in your whole life!

  • Colonel Pancake

    Haters gonna hate. I'm with you Frank.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Really? That's your best argument? Really?

      • Colonel Pancake

        You' talkin' to me?

  • Juan Galicia

    I think the two towers on the left flow really well. Not so sure about the one on the right though, it’s a bit too chaotic – especially when you compare the upper section to the others but that’s just me.

  • Jamie

    Vanity architecture at its worst. What a mess!

  • boooo

    I started being a fan of FOG after going to Prague. I stopped being a fan after going to MIT and seeing concave roofs and skylights that had no way of draining water, flashing that went through window frames, an insane amount of broken and leaking drywall etc, and all of this in a building that was not even five years old.

    The Toronto project might look really good right now but I won’t give him any props until I see the finished thing.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisCollaris @ChrisCollaris

    Creatief met “zo het lijkt” kaars, waar komt het vandaan? En waar moet het nog naartoe? I lost track years ago…

  • Gerald McLoven

    Again, ruining the city with this poorly-rolled joint of a building. Serious! Looks like something an 8th grader would have rolled at band camp!

  • DTF

    The only thing more predictable than Gehry’s designs is the content-less, knee-jerk criticism they receive here in the comments.

    I’m not always a fan of his work (there are some pretty serious duds – Minneapolis, MIT), but with the right budget (read: verrryyyyy high) he can create some pretty amazing icons (Disney, Bilbao, Millennium Park, Beekman). Let’s hope this is more like the latter. Just reserve the “this is hideous!” comments until we see how the detailing pans out (and this sort of comment is potentially justified).

    • stanhalfmanhalfwolf

      “Let’s hope this is more like the latter. Just reserve the “this is hideous!” comments until we see how the detailing pans out” – I’m afraid that by then it will be too late. In fact all comments, both positive and negative, are too late because FOG’s appointment has already been made.

      My problem (and I emphasis my problem) with FOG is that he has become, along with Hadid and Libeskind, one of the triumvirate of global brands who are given carte blanche to design despite the location of the building. Their appointment is not to produce valid, contextual architecture, but to roll out another version of their ‘look at me’ brand design, with the aim of adding bling value.

      This project may end up being good, but I regret to say that this will occur by chance rather than by design. And I am not optimistic.

  • rodger

    Self plagiarism is what Gehry’s work is called. Even though single handedly he has invented the software that underpins all parametric software and thereby has empowered a new generation to build complex geometric architecture, and even though his spaces are fun and wonderful, his architectural language has become stale and overly self referential.

    • DTF

      “Single handedly invented the software”? Catia existed before Gehry Tech re-branded it as Digital Project. It’s utilisation in the architecture field was perhaps visionary and hugely influential, but please keep Gehry’s role in this in perspective. (I’ll spare you the rant on how “single handedly” is a phrase that shouldn’t even be used in the context of architecture).

    • chalar

      What’s wrong with being self referential?

  • Brige

    You’re right Fed! If this was proposed by H&dM or BIG it would be completely acceptable. I like!

  • Guillaume

    Maybe there is a mistake about the height but those are not 82-86m towers. Look at the trees! This is bad architecture.

  • Michael

    Skrillex makes a candelabra.

  • jun

    Please, Mr Gehry, stop it. It’s awful.

  • Justin

    I’m all for bold new ideas, especially in a city of glass boxes. When I look at the left-most tower I see his NYC skyscraper. Whereas the tower on the right screams of his Cleveland Clinic. Now I’m excited where they blend in the middle, but again Disney Concert hall anyone (especially as it meets the ground)?

    No doubt he is one of the biggest names in architecture and thus we are well acquainted with his work and style. But is this the Toronto DNA? I hope there is something that actually speaks of Toronto and not simply a mashup of LA, NYC and Cleveland.

  • RJM

    What a mess! I see Mr Gehry still struggles with verticality. His iconography clumsily crashes into the tower. It all seems awkward and unsure.

    Don’t get me wrong, his work has its moments. The Disney Hall and Bilbao ARE some of his best work, the “look at me” bling of the titanium tiles notwithstanding! The high-end condo tower he designed in Hong Kong is hideous. A tragic piece of faux.

    He just isn’t the architectural genius some think he is. Though, I’m sure Toronto will fawn and drool these towers into being! Completion in 2023?! By 2025, I think Toronto will regret it…

  • emem

    I’d love to know what the brief was and if Frank immersed himself or whether the napkin came out a little early. The same with Hadid. A constant theme/idea runs through all their work, and it gets a little tiresome.

    I appreciate architects who can create according to client/community needs rather than imposing their own will on everything. Saying that, I guess this approach gives them an identity or brand which clients buy into. But shouldn’t they be addressing the “problem” or brief first?

    • Concerned Citizen

      If one were to take all this work and place it in a museum as sculpture, the viewers would wonder if this emerging artist would ever mature.

  • Andrew

    Small theatre? The owner of this theatre, which is a large Broadway-size theatre built to house the original London version of Miss Saigon that even the Broadway theatre can’t accommodate, is not a small theatre. And as much as I love Mr. Gehry’s work, I find it an abject shame that one of the city’s premier theatres is being demolished for yet more condos. Toronto should be renamed Condoland.

  • Pam

    It looks like a mess to me and is going to be murder for those who have to maintain it and clean the windows.

  • http://www.marcelmoonen.com Marcel

    This guy is an amazing architect, always pushing towards the edge of what he can do. If you are always walking on the edge, you are allowed to make some mistakes.

    • Concerned Citizen

      It's not edging when you do the same thing over and over.

      • Getoverit

        You need to work on your eye. You sound like a guy travelling to Asia complaining about how everybody looks the same.

        Design Museum Weil am Rhein is not Guggenheim Bilbao. Guggenheim Bilbao is not DG Bank Berlin. DG Bank Berlin is not Spruce Street NY.

        I could go on and on but I’m guessing concise argumentation would be lost on you so I’ll stop right here.

  • Chreod

    Does Frank Gehry produce some beautiful projects? Yes. Is there anything to talk about in his work besides his pioneering of software back in the day and big budgets? Absolutely not.

    There is a reason no one talks about Frank Gehry’s work, there seems to be no real basis for it. It’s like he pulls forms out of a hat and plops ‘em down on whatever site happens to be most available. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I don’t see it being a part of any larger conversation than “how much can I make a building wobble and still stand up?” – an actual quote from him.

    • http://www.marcelmoonen.com Marcel

      These 30+ posts show the opposite.

  • Brendan

    Functionalism and utilitarianism aside, how can an architect claim to have studied the context when the expression of said context is yet another copy of his/her previous work? I’m all for exploring new and interesting horizons in architecture, but the work above is just a potato-stamp copy of all the other Gehry buildings.

    Where is the human character? The habitable element? Architecture is about creating spaces for people to inhabit; having something that is purely aesthetically pleasing simply does not make the cut. What role do those lofted surfaces play? How can you justify it? What purpose does it serve? Except, of course, costing the city/investors millions of dollars. I’m sorry Mr Gehry, but I’m not a fan. I don’t see innovation, I see waste and decadence.

  • urbane.abuse

    “The planned demolition of three warehouses and a small theatre to make way for the new buildings also prompted concerns from city officials. In response, Gehry has added a structure of vertical, horizontal and diagonal wooden beams to the base buildings as a reference to the area’s industrial past.”

    It is so sad, so silly.

  • Nigel

    Well, I can appreciate how they touch the ground – no plinth or ground level block that makes it impossible to walk right up to the geometries at play above. I think it may be quite nice to stand beneath the assembly of giant surfaces that just about reach the ground. I kind of wish the right-most tower wasn't part of the scheme. The middle and left work well together, in my opinion.

  • TT…

    If this can get built, it will be a victory for construction technology, not for design. Curvy titanium sheet surface in a window-less museum is constructable with high budgets, but fabricating that curvy surface with a window curtain wall system is just crazy, and waste of time and valuable resources.

    If Gehry doesn’t know the consequences of his design in the construction field are going to be, he is not a great architect. This might be a pretty model, but it will never be a beautiful building.

  • Frederich

    Out of control.

  • Fergburger

    I’ve never been the biggest fan of Frank. But there’s something about these that I really like!

  • Ricardo Codinhoto

    Very characteristic of Gehry’s work, another very good example. Those claiming for constant novelty need to be educated. Caravaggio painted in Caravaggio’s style in the same way that Van Gogh painted in Van Gogh’s style. The difference was in the application of their own style to different themes. The results, despite the repetition of the technique, are very different paintings with the same technique, just as Gehry buildings are new buildings with his one signature.

    • http://ambientspectrum.tumblr.com Justin

      Thank you! I was going to post something very similar and noticed you did it for me. Most artists and architects have a specific style and while some have a more broad range of styles, it comes down to taste and whether or not you fancy that particular artist’s style.

      Look at Frank Lloyd Wright or more recently Zaha Hadid, their work is almost immediately recognisable for good or bad and if you like their work usually just comes down to if your a fan of their style. I personally am a fan of Gehry and, like any architect or artist, he has works that are amazing and has works that aren’t quite as amazing. However, I think this particular project looks like it will fall into the amazing category.

      • Justinpbn

        When you speak of “style” you seem to be judging architecture solely on its aesthetic value. If you’re basing your opinion of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work purely on his “style” I suggest you visit one of his buildings.

        Using the name of an architect who understood the relationship between architecture, people and place better than probably any other to try and prove the point that whether or not you like an architect’s building “usually just depends on whether you like their style” demonstrates such an ignorant understanding of FLW’s work and architecture in general that it’s insulting.

    • Concerned Citizen

      There are no different themes. They are all the same.

  • Deepti

    Sculpture and architecture are different, give some respect to the space Mr. Gehry! Don’t want to make functional boxes, I agree, but this is not deconstruction; it is but another mess.

    • Ricardo Codinhoto

      Who said it should be organised?

  • ChrisMack

    This. Is. Awesome. I hope I can afford to buy a condo in the complex, and that the city doesn't turn a bold idea into pablum before it's approved.

  • JimmyM

    With designs like this I always think: structure, sustainability and expense. I think it’s quite simple to create crazy designs, especially when he usually replicates his work, but to make them work and be viable is another challenge that seems to get forgotten.

  • Marco Porto

    How can someone like this? And “people who don’t have a background in sculpture simply can’t get Gehry”?!

    “What is the public and what are students supposed to think of the horrifying design of Frank Gehry’s museum of design for Vitra? These buildings make a joke of architecture, of art, of culture, of the community, and of the whole society.” Donald Judd, 1991.

    I guess Judd didn’t have a “background in sculpture” too, right?

    • zizi

      Donald Judd is excused, anything that didn’t have 90-degree angles made him freak out.

  • Derek

    If that white plastic ends up being clear glass, this will look very different (worse).

  • X X

    Wow, this is so outdated. Better check new Google London office, smart project.

  • archi

    Step 1: Become starchitect.
    Step 2: 30 second sketch, hand to staff.
    Step 3: Profit.

  • http://www.shape-architecture.co.uk/ Jason Wren

    For the past few years I have been constantly following the works of Gehry. Although I am not a big fan, I find his architectural works quite amusing and edgy. There are loads of criticisms of his designs, especially this one. Can we do anything about it? I guess not. It’s his trademark anyway, give the guy a break!

  • Marondl

    Okay it can be built – the shapes, the forms – does anyone ever ask WHY it should be built? Did you ever see the Gehry office building in Manhattan across the street from the Nouvel condos?

    The Gehry with the curved glass to recall sails and the Nouvel with its inane 890 different window types. There are two starchitects going toe to toe and making all look foolish.

  • http://www.davidjdickson.com David Dickson

    Finally, an iconic Gehry design for Canada. Wish we could get one for Vancouver.

  • http://dorianmaine.com Dorian Maine

    The left tower is quite a beautiful futurist fusion of organic shapes and technology, a concept that’s a bit rote. The central tower is fun and nice vertical Gehry adaptation.

    The right building is rather ugly and should never be built.

    As for the other two, if they were more connected with platforms and elevated courtyards I’d be a fan, otherwise they should not be built together.

  • fleeting

    The tower to the right is my favourite. Absolutely no emotional response to the other two.

  • Shashwat Naidu

    I have no problem with chaotic forms. I’m all for sculpture meeting architecture and I am a huge fan of Gehry. But I’m sorry I don’t like this particular design – neither as a building nor as a sculpture. It looks like an unfulfilled thought process.

  • Mr J

    These would have looked fun in Brighton – a nice foil to the Royal Pavilion and the Pier. Oh well…

  • Riccardo Pusceddu

    Outstandingly beautiful. It’s a shame that the final version will scrap one of the three skyscrapers and the glassy sails of this version. Sigh!

  • Riccardo Pusceddu

    Also, to those people who criticise Gehry for not having changed his sculptural style, I reply that Gehry is growing to new heights with this three skyscrapers.

    His architectonical language is getting ever richer and refined. But people who critic the new have always plagued all the figurative arts, especially architecture, which is the one art that needs approval from the establishment and the public.

    Luckily and hopefully Gehry is going to surprise us again, despite everything.