By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 0 Comments
Newsmakers 2012: From Hollywood marriages to business dealings
Green Lantern’s Silver Lining
Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who co-starred in the 2011 movie Green Lantern, tied the knot, proving a box office disaster can have an upside. Reynolds, 35, was engaged to Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, then married for two years to actress Scarlett Johansson. People’s former sexiest man alive has previously been linked to Oscar winner Charlize Theron. Lively, 25, has dated Gossip Girl co-star Penn Badgley, Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio—and another Canadian actor who shares her hubby’s first name, Ryan Gosling.
Toronto stage impresario David Mirvish offered to demolish his most opulent venue, the Princess of Wales Theatre, to build a trio of monumental skycrapers on King Street designed by hometown architect Frank Gehry. Mirvish, a major art collector, teamed up with Gehry to propose 85-storey condo towers that would house public galleries and extend the OCAD University campus. Don’t call these towers condos, said Mirvish—“I’m building three sculptures that people can live in.” If the project is approved, congestion may turn traffic into a sculpture people can live in.
Dion, Deli Diva
Her heart will go on, and so will Schwartz’s Deli. Quebec superstar Céline Dion and manager-husband, René Angélil, bought the iconic 84-year-old Montreal restaurant with local restaurateur Paul Nakis. Dion and Angélil, who already own Quebec’s Nickels Restaurant and Bar chain, allayed fears they would turn the smoked-meat shrine into a franchise operation. “I have so many great memories of being there with the guys, and with Céline and our families,” said Angélil. Even before the deal, Dion’s photo was on the wall. Continue…
By Scaachi Koul - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian architect’s design faces setbacks as congress refuses to greenlight funding
A proposed memorial for former U.S. president and five-star general Dwight “Ike” D. Eisenhower has stalled after months of controversy, and a Canadian architect is at the centre of it.
Frank Gehry, 83, was initially asked to design Ike’s Washington memorial. Few, however, appear pleased with his designs. The Toronto-born architect wanted to focus on Eisenhower’s humble roots, which bothered conservatives who said that would diminish the legacy he built up during his later years. His family agreed.
Gehry then wanted to erect metal mesh screens around the four-acre plot to hide the drab neighbouring office buildings. Eisenhower’s granddaughter Susan said the screens brought to mind the Iron Curtain, comparing the memorial to those created for Marx, Engels and Lenin. “That was the point at which I could have left the stage,” said Gehry. Perhaps he should have.
Last week, a congressional committee nixed nearly $60 million in funding for the memorial, reflecting growing concern over the controversies. Gehry, however, is pushing ahead. Hope is not lost, says Chris Kelley Cimko, spokesperson for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. After all, she says, “It took some 40 years to build the Roosevelt memorial.”
By Amy Rosen - Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
Up-and-comers and established architects alike contribute designs for the city’s artsy River Trail
It was a gong show, in Paul Jordan’s words. More than two dozen architects landed in Winnipeg last week to build some zany huts for skaters. There was one made of rope and another carved from a single giant block of foam. Then there was Frank Gehry’s deconstructed igloo. The sun was beating down on the blocks of ice, made from distilled water and shipped from Montreal, and they were starting to melt.
“I’ve got 11 Czechs, two Norwegians, three Americans, two Israelis, two Germans, and more coming, so it’s like the United Nations here and they’re all building their crazy huts,” said Jordan, 56, the lead organizer of Warming Huts v.2012: An Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice. “It’s about as much fun as you can have.”
Five teams have been working on their creations at the Forks, where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet, a famous Winnipeg waterfront development that gets four million visitors a year. The warming huts are really unheated shelters, a place for skaters to get out of the cold, rest or to tighten the laces on their skates. They are also pieces of art. This week the teams began moving the huts onto the frozen river, where they will join winners from previous years with names such as Carcass, Apparition and Under the Covers.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
A number of Canada’s top architects have been leaving their mark on the American capital
Washington likes its buildings imposing, their walls stone-solid—and the activities inside concealed and guarded 24-7. The city’s century-old height limit preserves the iconic views of the Capitol at the cost of imposing a bulky and boxy shape on most large buildings, from concrete government complexes to cookie-cutter condo developments. But lately, a stream of Canadian architects have been bringing a different touch.
On Oct. 25 the American capital will see the gala opening of the biggest new cultural complex since the Kennedy Center opened in 1971: the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theatre, built on the Washington waterfront by Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are the honorary chairs of the event.
The 200,000-sq.-foot complex is in many ways a very un-Washington building. Instead of imposing, it is playful. Instead of opaque, it is wrapped in a curving wall of 35,000 sq. feet of transparent glass. In the place of neoclassical columns that adorn so much of the city’s official architecture, there is a decidedly West Coast feature: five-metre wood columns—made by B.C.-based StructureCraft Builders out of Parallam, a material engineered from strands of the province’s Douglas firs—that rise around the building like streamlined totem poles supporting an expansive cantilevered roof. To build the unique structure, the architects said they had to prove the material’s strength and fire resistance, and get a local building code amendment. The elliptical beams, a metre in diameter, taper as they near the floor—making the columns seem lighter, as if giant trees had put on ballet shoes and risen up en pointe. “I’m very proud of it because we need to look at using wood in new ways,” said Bing Thom in an interview, adding, “We have this memory of the timber war with the U.S.—this is the Canadian revenge.”
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 16 Comments
A complex, controversial design in a harsh climate may make some exhibitors nervous
The cultural building boom of the oughts has been tied off in Edmonton with a ribbon of stainless steel. The new Art Gallery of Alberta was controversial from the moment of the 2005 design competition, which saw Frank Gehry acolyte Randall Stout outflank much bigger names (Zaha Hadid, Will Alsop, Arthur Erickson) by presenting his deconstructivist design in person and making sure to incorporate some contrived local symbolism. The curved steel strip that circulates through the glass envelope of the new building is supposed to echo the decidedly un-mirrorlike North Saskatchewan River that winds through the city, but its official name is the “Borealis.”
It is surely inauspicious for a structure to start life as a mixed metaphor, but Stout does seem to have studied the city sincerely. He noticed that, as an American Institute of Architects bulletin put it, Edmonton consists of “a hyper-rational grid system” with a belt of water and wilderness undulating through it. Cynics may think his steel-and-glass simulacrum over-literal, but they cannot challenge its technical brilliance.
Indeed, brilliance was needed. The project’s structural specialists, DeSimone Consulting Engineers of San Francisco, noticed immediately that—as they explained in the June 2009 issue of Modern Steel magazine—having “multiple locations where the curving Borealis elements penetrated the building envelope of the atrium” was a big problem in a cold-weather city. DeSimone and local partners were forced to invent and test an all-new type of load-transfer element containing some material that would hold up under large compressive loads without conducting heat as efficiently as metal. The mechanical engineers among you may have already guessed the humble, almost homespun secret: they used oak.
By Anne Kingston - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:10 AM - 7 Comments
Museum and gallery officials struggle with their costs and what people can afford to pay
When Edmonton’s Art Gallery of Alberta, or the AGA, opens its glass doors this weekend, lineups are expected to mimic the steel ribbons furling around the building’s exterior. Ten thousand free-entry tickets for the first two days have been snapped up by locals keen to check out the $88-million reno. The response echoes the excitement surrounding Frank Gehry’s revamped Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which drew 68,000 on its free first weekend in November 2008, and continues to attract 1,500 to 2,000 to its no-charge Wednesday evenings.
The spectre of crowds clamouring for gratis access to gawk at Goya and Degas reflects a modern Catch-22 with more twists and turns than the AGA’s bold new facade: on one hand, there’s a decided hunger for the public gallery experience, reflected in strong emerging 2009 attendance numbers. As Kelvin Browne, the vice-president of marketing and major exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), puts it: “In a virtual age, the power of real things increases.” Yet there’s also resistance (and inability) to pay the admission these institutions must charge to cover budget cutbacks and still create the “Wow!” spaces and quality exhibits required to attract audiences fed a diet of virtual spectacle. Adult admissions to the country’s major institutions vary widely: the AGA is raising its to $12 from $10, due to higher costs of running its expanded space and an ambitious new programming push, says executive director Gilles Hébert. “It’s a thing of value,” he says. Post Gehry redo, adult entry to the AGO rose to $18 from $15, an increase that prompted the architect’s quip, “highway robbery.” Ottawa’s National Gallery charges $9. The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) charges $19.50 (winter), $20.50 (summer). And at the ROM, it’s $22.