Gehry and Mirvish unveil Toronto ‘Sculptures’

View from the southwest © Gehry International Inc.

David Mirvish, founder of Mirvish Productions, and -born starchitect have officially unveiled a massive, mixed-use project that will transform Toronto’s downtown arts and entertainment district. The multi-phase project will significantly alter the city’s skyline with three, “sculptural” residential towers perched atop two, six story podiums.

Mirvish describes, “I am not building three towers, I am building three sculptures that people can live in.”

Continue reading to learn more.

Podium, Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc

The towers are inspired by Mirvish’s family history, as he describes, “This area was transformed 50 years ago after my father purchased the Royal Alexandra Theatre, and this project will continue the theatre’s future and transform the neighborhood again for the next 50 years. I am proud that we can continue this legacy that my father began.”

“It is very special for me to be able to work in Toronto where I was born and to engage the neighborhoods where I grew up,” added Gehry, as reported on Dexigner. “It’s especially interesting that this project involves the arts. That is always meaningful to me. With this project, I wanted to create buildings that were good neighbors to the surrounding buildings and that respected the rich and diverse history of the area. I also wanted to make nice places for the people who live in and visit the buildings. David has an exciting vision, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

The Mirvish/Gehry proposal will transform a significant stretch of King West between the Royal Alex Theater and John Street. Two, stepped podiums, relating to the scale of the surrounding context, will serve as a pedestal for the  80+ storey, “iconic” towers. They will house a 60,000-square-foot, non profit gallery that showcases Mirvish’s personal contemporary art collection, along with a new OCAD University facility that will front King Street West.

The casualty of the proposal is the existing, 1993 Princess of Wales Theatre.

Mirvish explained, “If there were a way of completing this project without removing the Princess of Wales Theatre, we would have followed it. But after careful consideration and many different plans, I decided not giving Gehry a full canvas on which to work would have meant compromises that would have lessened the power of the project.”

Both Mirvish and Gehry readily pointed out that the conceptual models do not necessarily represent the final project as it will eventually be built.

Mirvish and Gehry’s next step depends on City approval.

Reference: Toronto Star, BlogToDexigner

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Gehry and Mirvish unveil Toronto ‘Sculptures’" 02 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Seth

    Gehry is destroying architecture by turning it into meaningless shape-making and attention grabbing gimmicks that alienate the surrounding environment and say nothing of their program or context… the impracticality of Gehry’s designs are turning architecture into a race to spend the most on building exclusive environments for only the most priviliaged to enjoy. There is nothing innovative about his work other than innovating on the best way to consume more money and design energy for less bang and for fewer people to benefit. Real design should be democratic and push envelopes not only on what is possible but what is efficient and ACCESSIBLE. And real design has purpose, it’s not just arbitrary decoration.

    • steve

      When was architecture accessible? You can benefit by being there and if you can afford to be – a part of it.

    • yunos

      Seth, you are talking about one of the millions of approach in architecture. There are a whole spectrum of architectural theories and Gehry’s is definitely a legitimate one, the Pritzker prize is a testament of that. So stop hating and start appreciating the diversity of architectural language. If you only believe in one language, you will end up with a monotonous urban landscape, and that’s a bigger sin.

  • Wolfe

    Given the shear number of Toronto condo tower units hitting the market in the next 6 months alone, it’s hard to imagine that the developer here will be able to pre-sell even 1/4 of 1 tower. The condo market is over-saturated and has been flat for months. The outlook is dimmed further, when you factor in higher prices required to deviate from typical window-wall construction.

    perhaps the developer is using Gehry to gain public and municipal support for the the extremely high density this will require. Once the development partner takes over and this thing needs to balance out on a spreadsheet, it’s hard to imagine any room for Gehry’s affectations.

    I hate to mud-sling but I’d like to believe that most Toronto architects reading this blog will agree that their fine city needs to take a breather from this building type for a while.

  • ZumthorFanatic

    I love Gehry and all, but the podium design is just… hilariously bad.

  • Jordan

    This is astonishingly bad!
    Come on Frank – stop this pollution.
    I love his more considered work – but this is anything but architecture – and I know sculptors that would be offended by referring to this as sculpture.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter. These towers will never sell. Toronto hasn’t got a market to support all of those condos.

  • grogfa

    I love it. Nothing personal against the people who hate Gehry’s work, but i rather have that in Toronto versus another modern building from a corporate sweatshop. Also the same backlash gehry faced with the AGO. I too had the same feeling earlier, till i saw the AGO and it is one of the nicest museums in T.O.

    To every architect out there, this is possibly still in Schematic Design phase, we still have to wait for Design Development and finally CD phase.

    I cannot wait to see the long lines of investors outside the model sales office. which is always the case for any generic condo in toronto.


    This is a general comment to every architecture student who is programmed to hate Gehryism. Schools have programmed you to despise his work, partly because they cannot understand and hence cannot teach it. Its inherent in human nature to fear what they cannot rationalize.

    Second, to the comments of “I love Gehry’s old work”. Firstly, what is his “old work” and second he would not be Gehry today if he did “that” work. Gehry is Gehry because he is pushing the boundaries of architecture.

    Thirdly, he is now a brand. And as a brand he is successful. His name at least is known to the general public and it SELLS.

    Finally, if you hate it, you may be a select few. Partly because you are an architecture enthusiast who sees fit to undermine his work, compared to the random mini-mart you get to design. Please don’t take offense on it. Its the truth.

    • Gavin Chan

      Thank you Grogfa, you speak words of wisdom. People may not like his work but it is important that someone like him is here exploring parts of Architecture that some people may not like. This is how progress is done, we must go beyond what people are comfortable with.

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  • Tyler

    Reminds me of three of hades hideous and evil titans preparing to destroy some greek village…