Most metropolitan cities around the world would be lucky to have one, maybe two buildings designed by superstar architects. Toronto is about to get another, adding to our collection of world-class architecture, which has grown significantly over the past few years. We have an Alsop, a Mies van der Rohe and we’re getting a Gehry. Just announced was that the Hummingbird Centre would be reborn as our second Daniel Libskind landmark – the first being the ROM expansion which is currently underway. Mr Libeskind is famous for his Freedom Tower design and as a participant in the ego battle that wages over the World Trade Centre site re-design. This will be the fourth attempt at restoring the Hummingbird Centre to its early O’Keefe center popularity, since 2000.
It’s been a hard few years for the Hummingbird. As if the name change didn’t detract enough, we’ve seen its two principal tenants fly the coop. The National Ballet of Canada and The Canadian Opera Company have deemed the site unfit for their productions and are building performance and rehearsal centers of their own. The two most popular gripes productions have with the Hummingbird are the poor acoustics and the small backstage area.
One past design plan was to incorporate large motorized stages, with space for the stages to each side of the existing stage area. The plan would allow one stage to be set to the right, while the other stage was being performed upon in the centre position, in front of the audience. Sounds cool, but it would have required expanding the property and machinery to move it all. No specific details are known about the Libeskind design, except that it adds a 50 storey residential tower at one side of the building, offering splendid views of GoTrain tracks and the Gardiner Expressway. Better make an appointment with your mortgage broker now.
Given Mr. Libeskind’s past designs, the new design will look as beautiful outside the building as it does from within. Of course all of this is pending approval of the city since they own the site, but Torontoist feels that, given the reputation of the architect, the city would be foolish to tie this up in bureaucracy too long.