To Walk or Wait?

I was enroute to watch an outdoor movie at David Pecaut Square, when the power was cut to the subway train I was riding. We were at St. Patrick station and according to the announcement, there was a problem one stop south at Osgoode. The train doors opened and the lights went out.

One never knows how long a delay will last. I figured, if I left the subway and started to walk, the trains would resume the moment I stepped out of the station. The movie was about to start and by walking I’d miss the beginning. So I waited.

I noticed two women carrying cushions. I heard them mention King Street, and guessed they too were on their way to the movie. An update came over the intercom. The fire department was on the scene at Osgoode.

One of the women pulled a large bag of chips and a bottle of pop out of her bag, definitely movie snacks. She opened them, and the two started to eat while they visited. A few minutes later I smelled smoke; it must have been coming through the tunnel. That was my signal to leave. Seemed like I was going to miss the beginning of the film, regardless of my actions.

He Said. She Said. The Architecture Version.

I’ve been holding onto this post for a while, writing and rewriting it to help me to understand my relationship to architecture. Time to stop thinking, and commit to a final version before I’m lapped by Doors Open 2011.

Architecture was the theme of Doors Open 2010. My visit to the McKinsey & Company office was an unusual opportunity to hear both sides of an architectural story, through the

Read more »

Performance Art at the Interior Design Show?

The Interior Design Show is primarily about materials and finishes. Nowhere was this more apparent than the Audi display. A shiny white floor defined the extent of the large area. I think there was a cafe; I know there was a car and a lot of people wandering through. Unfortunately, the crowd and the white floor were at odds.

Two men dressed in black circled the space, each carrying a mop. Their job was to clean the black marks left behind on the white floor by people’s shoes. This tells me that someone chose a surface that looked great as a sample, but looked horrible once it was put to use. Maybe using this material was the car company’s commentary on a lack of consideration for functionality in interior design?

Reprieve from Grocery Store Obstacle Course

It is Saturday afternoon, about two o’clock. As I am turning north onto Christie Street, it begins to pour rain. A few blocks up, I pull into the Fiesta Farms parking lot, managing to snag a spot at the front. My father’s old adage, “People leave at the front too” proves true on a good day. I grab my umbrella and grocery bin, and run for the door.

A spot at the front is appreciated at Fiesta Farms regardless of the weather, because getting your groceries to the car takes a little extra work. There are two options. You can

Read more »

Crevice Claims Another Victim

The crevice in my kitchen claimed a victim today. Waiting for my scrambled eggs to cook, I picked up the plastic egg carton to return it to the fridge. For some reason, I had used all of the eggs in the middle of the carton, leaving only a few at either end. As I lifted it, the carton twisted, opened, and an egg fell out, tumbling directly into the space between my stove and counter.

This space is made necessary by the position of the gas pipe. This is not the first item to fall down the crevice. It is definitely the messiest. The egg slid halfway down towards the floor,

Read more »

Nature Disrupts My Design

About three years ago the large Elm tree in my backyard died. The tree was the redeeming feature of the backyard and unfortunately had to be cut down. The job took several days to complete. After the first day, I came home to a backyard full of giant logs, a depressing sight. I wandered amongst them, sitting down on one. This would make a great bench, I thought, and would let me hang on to part of what had defined the space for so long. The next day, I had the workers push three logs aside.

That was January. My summer project was to redesign the yard using the three logs as key elements. By fall everything was in place, a new patio, gardens and the logs.

I had one great summer with the logs. Fast forward to our early spring this year, beautiful warm weather and the insects that come with that. I had ants. Not the small ones that build

Read more »

Building Crowds Moving Car

I’ll admit it, I have a bias. I hate Smart Centres. They make my skin crawl. This however, is more about how they meet the street than big box shopping. At a glance the buildings appear to have an entrance from the sidewalk. The long row of stores are built close to the sidewalk, urban friendly if you can enter the store that way, but all we are presented with are fake windows and solid steel doors. Because it is a closed face that the stores present, it feels crowding, even as I drive past in a car.

When I returned on foot to photograph the faux facade, I was treated to a lonesome cherry

Read more »

Hidden Entrance

Today I found the worst office building entrance ever. Only with a bit of patience that is. I was on Eglinton a few blocks east of Yonge in fairly urban territory. I can’t imagine how the architect sold this one. First clue there is a problem; I walked right past the building even though I had been watching closely for number 110. When I reached 120 Eglinton and turned around it still took me a minute to see the doorway while standing in front of the 110 Eglinton sign. A Blockbuster and an entrance to underground parking take up most of the sidewalk frontage. To enter the building I had to walk into the darkness between the two.

Sound Distractions Challenge Language Learning

For me, sound distractions make learning a new language particularly challenging. Recently, I started my third session of French classes at Alliance Française which is located in a converted, big, old, red brick house. This session, my classroom is in the basement, directly below the lobby which means the sound of footsteps overhead. Not just occasional footsteps, but many footsteps, as my teacher is particularly punctual and begins before other students have entered the building.

One of the perks of Saturday morning class, is that French café culture is introduced to us with coffee and croissants. As a result, the kitchen is full of students talking and eating during break. Unfortunately, our classroom is beside the kitchen. For some reason there is a vent on the wall between the two rooms and when we return from our break before others, the hum of chattering voices wafts into the room. I miss most of what is taught during the interruptions from footsteps and chattering, making following the larger lesson difficult. C’est la vie.

Too Many Chairs Compromise Peer Support

I spent today at the Royal Ontario Museum for Rethink’s 2nd annual Breast Fest. Live Laugh Lunch, was held in a quiet octagonal room on the fourth floor. My friend Josephine and I were among the first to arrive. We chose a seat and then headed to the buffet table.

Back at our table, we ate and chatted. The event was advertised as sold out, but by the time the performance started there were empty chairs at most of the six tables. We sat alone at a table. “Last one picked for the team,” said Josephine. It is unfortunate to feel isolated during an event that is about support.