I first moved to Toronto in 1992 and still regularly spend time in the city although I now live in the suburbs. One thing that I love about Toronto is its distinct styles of architecture and I thought that it would be fun for Instagram Travel Thursday to feature shots of some of my favourite buildings.
The Ontario Legislative Building (Queen's Park)
The Ontario Legislative Building, home to the provincial parliament, is located in Queen's Park near the University of Toronto. The building, designed by architect Richard A. Waite, was constructed in 1893 using pink sandstone for the exterior walls which gives the building a unique hue. I recently toured the inside of the building with my daughter's grade 5 class and it's as lovely as the exterior. One of the most noticeable design elements is the difference in the east and west wing. The west wing was completely destroyed by a fire early in the 20th century and was rebuilt using white Italian marble whereas the east wing still has the original dark wood design.
The Royal Ontario Museum ("the ROM")
The ROM, which is presently celebrating its 100th birthday year, was originally housed in a buff-coloured brick and terracotta building designed by Toronto architects and has undergone several expansions over the years. The addition of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal in 2007 caused a huge uproar in the city, however, as many people objected to the modern addition to the historic building. I didn't care for it at first either but it has grown on me and now I love the distinctive design.
The CN Tower
It's impossible to discuss architecture in Toronto without including the CN Tower which stands 1,815 feet tall and dominates the city skyline. The tower which was built by Canadian National Railways in 1976 is a must for first-time visitors to the city. From 1976-2010 it was the World's Tallest Tower, Building and Freestanding Structure and has been classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Brave visitors can now take a tethered hands-free walk on a ledge around the tower's Main Pod.
Flatiron Building (Gooderham Building)
Toronto's Flatiron Building was commissioned by the Gooderham family (of Gooderham and Worts Distillery) and designed by architect David Roberts. Built on a triangular piece of land near St. Lawrence Market in 1891, the five story red brick building features an interesting mural on the back side and is now one of the most photographed buildings in the city. The building was sold for more than $15 million in 2011 making it some of the most expensive office space per square foot in the city.
The Hockey Hall of Fame Building
The Hockey Hall of Fame is housed in a historic bank building at the corner of Yonge and Front streets downtown which was originally built in 1885. The building is an example of rococo architecture designed by a Toronto architectural firm. The Esso Great Hall inside the building is an impressive room with a 45 foot high stained glass dome which is the largest of its kind in Toronto and lovely to behold.
Roy Thomson Hall
This isn't the greatest photo of Roy Thomson Hall but I had to include it because I love the circular design of the building with its sloping glass exterior. The concert hall is located in the downtown entertainment district and was originally designed by acclaimed architect, Arthur Erickson. The venue has played host to thousands of world-renowned artists and orchestras, is home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and is used for screenings of films during the Toronto International Film Festival.
Toronto City Hall
Toronto's current City Hall, located in Nathan Phillips Square, opened in 1965 and was designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revel whose proposal was selected as the winner in an international architectural competition. The modern design consists of two curved towers of unequal height surrounding a white saucer-like structure which houses the Council Chambers. The public space in front of the building has a reflecting pool, fountain and arches and the pool is transformed into a skating rink in the winter. The square is a popular gathering place in the city and the landmark building is one of the city's most photographed.
Old City Hall
The stone building known as Old City Hall was actually Toronto's third city hall. The building was designed by architect Edward James Lennox and opened in 1899 following a 10 year construction period. At the time it was the largest municipal building in North America. Among the impressive architectural details are a clock tower, turrets and gargoyles. The building was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989 and now operates as a courthouse.
Osgoode Hall is a heritage building which sits on property purchased by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1828 on Queen Street West. The architect of the original building was John Ewart and upon completion in 1832, it was named for the first Chief Justice of the province. Although there have been many additions to the original, the front façade appears essentially as it did in 1860. This is one of the city's loveliest historic buildings but I include it for sentimental reasons as well. This is where I attended my bar admission classes with the Law Society before being called to the bar of Ontario in 1994.
The final building that I'm including is the interior of the Brookfield Place office complex in the downtown business district. I used to spend a lot of time here when I worked in the building next door and I have always loved the striking contrast between old and new with the steel arches of the new construction juxtaposed against the restored façades of historic buildings. Light streams into the gallery through the glass ceiling and creates the sense that one is walking down a street rather than inside a building.
There are many other distinctive buildings in Toronto as well that I will have to make a point of Instagramming so that I can show off my city's great architecture!
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