Monday, January 3, 2011

La Vie De Boheme

Now I just need an idea. Just one idea. Just one...!

Office people get to hang out in one thousand foot high buildings that cover entire city blocks, full of little else but other office people.
Soldiers often meet to step stoically with other soldiers, soaking in the fulsome atmosphere of vast bases.
Factory people are famous for consistently consorting with scores of other factory people with charming regularity, under ample roofs.

I wonder how much business would get done if after some initial training, we put set businessmen in rooms alone, and asked them to "make it all up" - mathematics, business models, accounting sheets, the whole thing - and tell them that they'll get paid - someday, perhaps. Reminded them constantly that numbers were once regarded as witchcraft, and what they are doing now is a charming throwback with no real expected contribution to society. Softened, of course, with the reassurance that their business scribblings might have increased theoretical value after they're dead - to some connoisseur, somewhere. For their aesthetic value.

Artists in Toronto are a bit isolated from one another. Heck - a lot of people here feel isolated from each other! That's not just the climate or the deep protestant substrate of the place - it's in the structure of the city itself. It's endless right-angled grid of streets shooting off to the four points of the compass without interruption have created a city without a natural sense of interiority. No place to linger, ponder or intimately dawdle at ease.

I'd like to see a new one-thousand foot skyscraper in downtown Toronto dedicated to affordable artists live-work space. Wouldn't that be grand?
One would need a portfolio to get in, and a touch of supplementary credentials: art school, maybe, or exhibitions or references and the like. The building itself would be basically concrete and steel - bare essentials - fantastically rough and spare, but capable of hosting needs as diverse as filmmaking, welding, oil painting, printmaking, sculpture and very loud music without complaint. Ceilings would be set at a fifteen foot minimum, with generous windows. Each floor would have a small glassy "living room" open to all for those times you want to get out of your room, but don't want to go outside (especially in the cold Canadian winter). An array of galleries, clubs and services would fill the base, and double-height skylobbies every twenty stories would contain specialty rooms, casual meeting places and creative labs. The building itself would have much needed interiority in these rooms - places for people to co-mingle in non-programmatic, non-commercial ways. These 'social generator' spaces would give the building it's heart - and save it from merely being a variant on your typical high-rise filing cabinet.

I figure if the government can build the Skydome (nee: Rogers Centre) stadium for $895 million, then sell it for the price of a Muskoka Cottage...and if they can sell highway 407 (estimated worth at ten billion dollars) for wonderbread, then how about an affable investment like this, for a mere pittance?

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