In Toronto’s Christie Pits neighborhood, Colin Marshall talks with Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic, who also writes for such publications as Dwell, Wallpaper, Toronto Life, and Spacing. They discuss whether Honest Ed’s has any architectural significance to go with its social significance, and what its imminent disappearance says about the urbanism of Toronto’s future; its Los Angeles-like interest in becoming a “more walkable, more urban, more interesting” city; how it nevertheless went high-rise early on, even in its suburbs; the cognitive dissonance of Canada, an urban country that insists upon its rurality; whether the critics of downtown condos have it right when they call them dull; the ways Jane Jacobs’ spirit still animates Toronto; its reputation as a city of “great second-rate buildings”; the deal with the Castle Frank station; whether Frank Gehry counts as more of a Torontonian architect, or more of an Angeleno architect; what it means that Toronto will soon get its own high-profile Gehry project, commissioned, no less, by the family of Honest Ed himself; the struggles of a new-wave coffee shop to get permission to open in a “quiet” neighborhood like Christie Pits; how he got interested in both architecture and the city itself at the University of Toronto; what to keep in mind for an architecturally rich view of the city; whether Canadians believe their culture, cities, and neighborhoods more fragile than they really are; what he learned from his time in New York, the city where “public space is the most robust”; the “anti-urban resentment” that holds back Canada and other countries as well; who fights for the preservation of the Sam the Record Man sign; the nonexistence, in Toronto, of “a magical place you drive to”; Toronto as “a bit of a mess,” aesthetically; the important difference between prettiness and vitality; how Toronto has only just entered its “greatest point of relevance”; and how complaints indicate a city’s greatness.
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