The Daily Photoist: Can you spot Calatrava?
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The Daily Photoist: Can you spot Calatrava?

Every weekday, we pick an image from the Torontoist Flickr Pool and feature it here on the site. It’s our way to give the many excellent photographers in our pool the attention they deserve!
There are a whole lot of photographic crowd pleasers in this shot by Flickr pool contributor End User: a fisheye lens, tall buildings, geometric lines, and the BCE Place atrium. What we (and the photographer) also like is how it captures a bunch of designs by some prominent architects.
The BCE Place Galleria (left) is designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, known for his swooping, “fishbone” frame structures. Famous architect Mies van der Rohe designed the black towers of the Toronto Dominion Centre (top right), which echo his designs for the Seagram Building in New York and the former IBM Plaza in Chicago (van der Rohe also designed the ubiquitous Barcelona Chair). Boris Zerafa‘s Royal Bank Plaza (right) features windows with 24-carat gold baked into them which give the building its unique golden appearance as the sun shines off its stepped angles. Believe it or not, the rather ugly and bland CIBC building (top leftish) was designed by brilliant architect I.M. Pei, best known for the glass pyramids at the Louvre.
Because of the materials and styles used, important eras in Toronto’s skyline are often architectural moments frozen in time. The glass curtain wall, for example, demonstrates a revolution in how tall buildings were built since the exterior walls no longer had to support the structure—buildings like the chunky Fairmont Royal York could only be built so tall before the structure became too heavy (the Royal York, once the tallest in the Commonwealth, was finished in 1929 in the distinct Château style common to hotels along Canada’s railway lines). The ability to mass-produce steel and advances in arc welding and elevator technology jumpstarted the skyscraper craze, and our iconic CN Tower remains a dazzling example of impeccably slipformed concrete.
Today, extremely tall skyscrapers are planned and theoretically possible to construct, but interestingly, one of the primary problems is human tolerance of elevator speeds—elevators could actually move much faster than the current top ascent speed of 60 km/h (the Taipei 101 building), but the breakneck speeds and acceleration/deceleration forces would injure us.