The Spadina Expressway was probably the most high-profile megaproject in Toronto that was never built, but it’s also just one of many. For his OCAD thesis project, David Kopulos has detailed a host of construction projects that were planned for Toronto, but that never materialized—both the reviled (such as the Expressway) and the intriguing—on his website, Toronto Pending. Each entry explains what the proposed structure would have been and why it wasn’t built, alongside artist’s renderings, photos and a map of the would-be site that cheekily states, “You aren’t here.” Some of the projects include:
• A floating airport (1971) in Lake Ontario, conceived to address the lack of available land for an airport close to Toronto.
• Habitat City (1970), which would have housed 60,000 people “in low-rise concrete buildings connected by a network of waterways, and would have likely resembled a cross between Venice’s canals and Montreal’s Habitat ’67.”
• The Eatons/John Maryon Tower (1971), had it been built, would have resided at Yonge and College and been taller than the CN Tower.
Other plans would have seen Old City Hall torn down in make way for the Eaton Centre and Victorian houses and cottages in the Beach razed in favour of high-density apartment buildings.
The site is an eye-opening look at just how great an impact architecture and planning can have on a city’s workings and self-image. “I think what’s clear from these projects, as well as the current debate about street furniture, is that imposing a single, overarching order on Toronto is missing the point, because it’s the variety and incongruity that make Toronto worth paying attention to,” says Kopulos. “Whether or not you agree with the proposals from the 60s and 70s, you have to admit that they featured some very creative, original ideas in terms of urban design. That’s something I think is missing from the condo tower clones going up now.”
But the proposals of years past weren’t perfect, either. “Most of them would have likely been drab and depressing and would have sucked the vibrancy off of Toronto’s streets,” Kopulos says. Of the sites he researched, he calls Habitat City the “most interesting, because they managed to combine Jane Jacobs-style, neighbourhood-based planning with fantastic modernist aesthetics. Plus, you could commute by boat.”
The paintings that Kopulos created for his site will be on display at the OCAD Graduate Exhibition from May 11th to May 13th, at 100 McCaul Street.
Photo of Old City Hall by spotmaticfanatic from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.