Many of us associate ‘neo-Art Deco’ with tasteless condo developments across the city, and for good reason. The ick factor, though, is really a result of attempting to marry blank expanses of glass with crude Dick Tracy stylings than an honest appropriation of the early North American skyscraper motif- which was graceful, sculptural, and feminine in its aesthetic.
John Bentley Mays, TOist’s favourite U of T architecture prof and Globe columnist, reports on Burka Varacalli Architect’s proposal for Uptown Residences on Balmuto Street, situating it on the puzzlingly atrocious Bloor-and-Yonge intersection, indisputably the psychological and geographical centre of the city but marked by such stylistically devoid developments as the Hudson’s Bay Centre and Harvey’s restaurants. The Uptown is to be a relatively modest and restrained building, standing 48 storeys tall and foregoing the popular ‘pointy chapeaux’ top in favour of an elegant jazz-age Deco pedestal top.
Bentley Mays fondly recalls the history of the site, homaged at least in name if not in style: “the Uptown Theatre on Yonge Street was a mid-town landmark for movie-goers, while the smaller screening rooms of the Backstage- just behind the Uptown, and on the exact site to be occupied by Uptown Residences—was an oasis for connoisseurs of the cinematically off-beat, ephemeral and experimental.’’ TOist suspects this is the first time a condo developer has, knowingly or not, paid homage to anything remembered as ‘off-beat and ephemeral’, so cheers.