Monday, October 27, 2003

The OCAD Slab Isn’t Fab

The otherwise irrelevant club kid mag Tribe has a smart, surreal, absurdist mockery of the upcoming OCAD reno in their latest issue, which can be downloaded as a 2MB PDF. (Skip to page 18 to discover the magic.) For those who do not live in Toronto, or do not visit the downtown core because that’s where the bad, scary people roam, the college has decided to build a thick checkerboard slab over the existing building, on stilts. If it sounds stupid, it looks worse. But have I seen anyone taking this shit smore to task? Not until the Tribe two-pager.

Not to overstate the cause, but I actually laughed – out loud – at a couple of the Tribe photoshop suggestions on how to make the structure blend into the surrounding neighbourhood more effectively. (The giant Dalmatian head is the home run of the collection, in my humble.) Name the last time a triple-varnished magazine "charticle" made you risk losing some pee due to guffaws.

Coincidentally (I hope, lest such a thing become a trend) Bruce Mau suggested elevating the Gardiner in Toronto Life, back in June of 2002. As he put it:

We should view the Gardiner's supposed flaw, its height, as a virtue and exaggerate it. Instead of the current three or four storeys, the highway should be raised to, say, 15 storeys. The higher it goes, the more space it frees up below for parks or retail or housing. Even jacking it up to eight storeys would remove that gloomy lid and improve sightlines.

Much of the $12 million spent each year to maintain the Gardiner goes to repairing damage caused by winter salting. But a tube encircling the roadway, made of light, transparent plastic, would obviate the need for salt. That would allow the expressway to be engineered efficiently and designed as an object, as the most stunning downtown highway imaginable.


With an elevated Gardiner, Toronto would look like a stand of high-rise buildings framed by a tubular ribbon, with exit and entrance ramps as smaller ribbons floating from the big arc. Drivers would look down through the transparent tube to the modern cityscape below and wonder why it took us so long to figure out the Gardiner

This is what happens when you become a huge (figuratively and literally) international graphic design superstar – you can say stupid crap, and people will happily print it on glossy paper, even if it requires over 500 pages (e.g. his five kilo doorstopper Life Style) to illuminate the genius.

Speaking of Mau, I might not always agree with him, but when it comes to process, he’s the king (e.g. Tree City). Which is why I was intrigued by his recent ad in Now for the Institute Without Boundaries. I missed the October 17 deadline to apply, and I don’t have the $12,000 required for a year of tutelage under his point and click lordship, but the program sounds interesting. However, signing a confidentiality agreement, a waiver of all moral rights, and transfer of copyright for those students accepted did not sit well with me. Intellectual sweatshops are the newest (and thus, the least reported) arenas of exploitation in the knowledge economy. More on this "crazy" theory soon.