Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Concrete Toronto" by E.R.A. Architects (editors)

Why I read it: It was mentioned in a Toronto Star article (I can't link to it because it's behind a fee wall) about repurposing big box stores (which is funny, because I can't think of any buildings featured that were big box stores). I requested it from the library. It appeared.

Bookmark: library receipt

Tastes like chicken: Robert Fulford "The Accidental City"

What I liked: I haven't read much about architecture, so this really made me notice stuff.
It's a collection of essays, photos, interviews, and drawings about concrete architecture in and around Toronto, most of which was built between the 50s and the 70s. There are sections about proper working with concrete, the goals and objectives of different buildings (the Robarts Library, for example, may be a fortress of a building, but it seems to suit the goal of being a repository for books. It's not about being friendly and pretty, it's about keeping books in).

On Sunday, we went to Charles Sauriol park because I wanted to see if we could walk along the East Don all the way from Lawrence to Eglinton. They're building a bridge across the river, connecting Moccasin Trail park with Charles Sauriol I guess. We didn't walk across the bridge in either direction, because there was an excavator working out there right beside the highway (on Sunday! Until after 5pm! Shocking!).

There was one spot where the path we were on led us on a climb out of the ravine because (on the east side where we were) the water was right next to the mud slope. We stood maybe 200 feet above the river and could look across at what I think of as the quintissential view of North York -- the ravine, all the trees in it, and sticking out of the trees, half a dozen apartment towers. It was something along the lines of 4.4 km down, and we had our snack under the Eglinton bridge, then walked a little farther down to see where the Flemingdon Park golf course started, and then turned around and walked back along the railway tracks (it's a GO line, so pretty unused on Sundays), over two railway bridges (awesome!) and then stopping before the third because it led finally to the wrong (west) side of the river. The walk back was just over half the length of the walk out. And no Geocaching! When we were done, the boy said "That was a nice walk."

Not so much: There were some editorial inconsistencies -- a couple of copy editing errors: a missing picture, a duplicated caption, some typos, a column of text missing, things like that. Though some of the issues in producing this type of book are similar to creating a technical manual, like I do and I recognize the effort. Also, I think the pages are all going to fall out of the middle of this book.

Lesson: This book had a similar effect on me that the Fulford book did, in that it made me see the city in a slightly different light. While driving past high rises on the way to the mall, I find myself wondering about the stuff on the roofs, and about the apartment towers of the 70s and 80s versus the condos of today. I hope this helps me make my Toronto more believable to the poor readers of my novel.

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