Blame international architect Will Alsop for the latest Queen West trend.
When his design for the Westside Lofts condo presentation centre was constructed near Queen and Gladstone, many regarded the multi-coloured swiss cheese structure as garish and ugly. At yet, the building’s hideousness has proved the secret to the condo project’s attention-getting strategy. Clearly, other Queen West businesses have taken a cue from Alsop’s design.
Art supply store Woolfitt’s sits in the shadow of the Westside Lofts structure. Not to be outdone by Alsop, they recently overcompensated by repainting their plain brick exterior with seemingly random splotches of neon green, pink and orange paint. It’s surprising to realize that the fug of the Westside lofts could be so challenged. Your move Alsop.
A block down the street, the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction has begun a major renovation. Throwing their hat in the ring, the chain link fencing around the construction site was recently adorned with additional squares of chain link — this time candy-coloured ones — and also some colourful info cards. Not as flashy as Wollfitt’s, but certainly far from tasteful.
Even the area’s graffiti got a makeover in June — it’s now new, shiny, and City-approved®. (Some of us at Torontoist actually like the graffiti repaint, but next to these other projects, the bright colours come across as a bit much.)
Sure, this area is considered the beating heart of the Queen West Art + Design District, and a lot of developers are throwing a lot of money into the region. But you really don’t need to hit us over the head with so much colour. I mean, yeah, we get it.
We know artists apparently live in the area (and soon won’t) without seeing those splotchy preschool paint effects. There are plenty of tasteful ways to say “we’re arty” without using ALL the colours in the crayon box. (Is that what separates the artists from the imitators — some sense of restraint?) You’re actually making the Bohemian Embassy and the Drake look downright fashionable.
Finally, let’s not forget Alsop’s Westside Lofts building itself. When the condos eventually go up, this presentation centre will remain — an art gallery will take over the structure — so we’d best get used to it.
Gentrification of the area may be inevitable, but does it have to be so tacky?