from Brendan Cormier, 02/12/2010: I went to the Toronto archives for the first time last weekend, and found two amazing documents from late 60s/early70s - that have completely blown my mind. The first was a proposal for a water city neighbourhood to take over the island airport, put together by Zeidler and Jane Jacobs called "Harbour City". The second was a proposal by John Andrews (CN Tower) for the CN /CP raillands called Metro Centre. Here are the things that I found amazing.
1. The scale and scope of the ideas - these were real master plans with a lot of thought put into program, real models, sections, details. How were we given allowance to think this way in the 70s, while everything has been reduced to tower/podium, perimeter blocks, rectilinear grid plans of today. - and government paid for these plans. These were big commissions.
2. I have been studying urban planning/design for ten years now, and this is my first time seeing these plans. They were never shown to us in class. Why is that? Canada has such a thin history of masterplanning, you would think that we would look at any and all big downtown master plans that exist. Is this another example of a fundamentally anti-modernist planning education. Is this a cover up?
3. Reading original documents is way better than editorialized versions. The original design of the documents, the original language used, the original drawings - there is so much more to be learned by looking at the originals. Unbuilt Toronto mentions these projects, but in brief - it's not enough for me.
4. These documents are on the verge of disappearing - there is one dusty copy in the archives, and one in the stacks at the urban affairs library, that took the librarian half an hour to find after I described it to her in length. Young Canadian urban designers NEED to see these documents. It's a part of our heritage.
Question. How many of these kinds of projects exist in other Canadian cities? Probably tonnes.
Book Idea: Re-publishing these projects in their original, in one book compilation. Very little editorializing. What you see is what you get. Draw your own conclusions.