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Canadian Modern Architecture: Ontario Place

10 Oct 2019
Image Credit: Ontario Place in Toronto.
Architectural Credit: Craig, Zeidler & Strong, 1971.
Photo Credit: Hiro Nakashima, Canadian Architect magazine fonds, Ryerson University Library and Archives

This month, World Architecture Day is celebrated around the globe. In Canada, October also marks the debut of the first comprehensive review of Canadian architecture in decades. Co-published by Canadian Architect magazine and Princeton Architectural Press, the book Canadian Modern Architecture, 1967 to the Present, will be released on Monday, October 28. It launches with a series of events in cities across Canada, including several events in Ontario that have been supported by the OAA.

To celebrate the book, the blOAAg will include eight excerpts—chosen by co-editor Elsa Lam—over the month. Today’s selection is about Ontario Place, taken from George Baird’s chapter, “Megastructures and High-Tech.”
Zeidler and his colleagues continued their explorations on the megastructure theme with Ontario Place (1971), a recreational complex comprising a series of exhibition pavilions and entertainment venues erected partly on man-made extensions of the Lake Ontario shoreline, and partly over the lake itself.

The scheme emerged from the provincial government’s desire to emulate the great public success of Expo 67 in Montreal. Archigram’s celebratory technological imagery is powerfully reprised in Ontario Place, and Yona Friedman’s idea of an altogether new city hovering above the old one is equally visible in it. Zeidler also brought a sure sense of architectural detailing to this dramatic new iconography, which has made Ontario Place an unforgettable Canadian architectural icon of the 1970s—one which is both a megastructure and a triumphant display of high-tech virtuosity—even if the province of Ontario has not found suitable programming for the site in recent years

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