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Archive: February, 2006

AGO Podcast #9 – Transformation AGO: Frank Gehry interviewed by Christopher Hume

February 21st, 2006

Image: Frank Gehry
Photo Thomas Mayer

An interview by the Toronto Star’s architecture columnist Christopher Hume with celebrated architect and Toronto native Frank Gehry, who has designed the current expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The interview took place when Gehry was at the AGO for the media preview of the exhibition Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture, opening Feb 18 and continuing through May 7 2006.

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Starchitect Landing

February 16th, 2006


Frank Gehry was at the AGO today for the launch of Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture exhibit that opens later this week. He said some nice things about Toronto, some others made some speeches, then we were free to wander around the exhibit before it officially opened. It’s sort of like walking through one of those expensive fat Phaidon or Taschen art and architecture books that are fun to page through at Pages. The best part is all the models that are there. The AGO model is there too, letting us see how it meets Dundas, and what a walk down the street will feel like when the project is complete (looks fine so far, not sure what all the fuss was about). There are models from other Gehry projects too. They’re as big as Volkswagens, and you can even get inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall, complete with a model person in each seat. Eli Singer shot little videos of the models that you can watch.

I’ve never been to a Gehry building, and the context he was introduced to me over the years (until Bilbao made him popularly celebrated in houses that don’t have any Phaidon or Taschen’s on the coffetable ) was always critical. In books like Mike Davis’ City of Quartz, where he called Gehry’s work “fortress architecture,” more concerned with the aerial view than a pedestrian one and “a mercenary celebration of bourgeois-decadent minimalism.” As far as I can tell those are fighting words, without any room for talking or debate. Even a couple weeks ago at a talk I went to given by the good people from Projects for Public Space I was stunned by the major hate-on they had for places like Bilbao, and the “dead spaces” they create. You’d think Gehry buried people alive under his buildings.

So I feel sort of bad and ashamed about sort of liking the spaces these buildings create. I love the Annex, and walking along Bloor, for all the Jane Jacobs reasons — but then Nathan Phillips Square is still my favorite place in Toronto, even if it’s one person’s “totalitarian” vision of space and place (so the naysayers seem to say about these kinds of places). But where else would we have given Terry Fox the key to the city after he heroically ran-limped down University Avenue? For my own comfort, I’ve erased Art Eggleton’s unfortunate presence from the greatest moment in Canadian history, but NPS is the only place I’d want that event to have happened. It’s the finest manifestation of Peace, Order and Good Government in the country, and I feel safe and at home there, like my living room — even if it was one person’s vision.

All this is to say that the spaces that Gehry creates, at least from the model view, look like places I’d want to wander around in. The forest below was attached to that Disney Concert Hall. Looks alright, and when I return to Los Angeles one day I’ll go see if it’s as warm and cute as this model, which can be visited until May 7th.

Gehry live from the Art Gallery of Ontario

February 15th, 2006


Today, a group of talented Toronto bloggers converged on the AGO for the media preview of Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture.

This is the first time Toronto’s citizen journalist community has participated alongside traditional press at a media event. It’s my hope that this kicks off a new trend of media integration in our city.

A highlight of the exhibit is the collection of enormous models. Gehry’s design process is a physical one – he constructs models to express the concepts, and as the designs become concrete, the models grow larger and open-up.

They are quite detailed, and it’s possible to inspect them from every angle and get in close. In this way, the exhibit is a fun interactive experience. Here’s a video I shot of several models: Watch Frank’s speech at the opening reception: David, Robert and BlogTO also have reviews online. Many thanks to everyone at the AGO who I worked with to set this up, especially Ian, Antonietta and Arlene. If you’re a Toronto blogger and would like to be invited to an upcoming opening, please drop an email to Antonietta.

AGO builds new relationships with blogger journalists

February 15th, 2006

The AGO has embarked on a new way of working with Toronto blogger journalists. Bloggers employ creative methods for sharing news and stimulating dialogue in a wide range of communities. This kind of creativity is what Transformation AGO is all about. The evening of February 9 saw a group of influential bloggers converge at the Gallery for a talk and tour of the expansion with Linda Milrod, reinstallation director for the Transformation AGO project, followed by an evening of discussing and sharing ideas for future projects. Several of these virtual reporters will be on hand at this week’s press preview for the upcoming exhibition Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture, a new experience for the AGO.

Check out these blog sites to keep current with new developments:

Eli Singer –

Sam Javanrouh –

Rannie Turingan –

Robert Oulette –

The Torontoist –

Spacing –

Amber Mac, CommandN –

BlogTO –

David Crow –

Live Blogging from the AGO – Frank Gehry Launch

February 14th, 2006


I am at the AGO sitting next to Robert Ouellette from Reading Toronto trying to live blog the Frank Gehry: Art and Architecture launch.

Rogers offered to provide EDGE data access, time constraints of getting a big corporation moving prevented this from happening. But their offer is fantastic, I am connected using my trusty Sony Ericsson T637 and it’s Bluetooth modem to connect to the Rogers data service. I am not looking forward to my phone bill this month. But we’re live! Eli invited a group of Toronto bloggers to cover the launch and provide a different perspective on big media events.

10:14am EST – The Media Preview just started. * In 2008 first Frank Gehry building in Canada just steps from Frank’s childhood home * Looking at Frank in context of 4 other projects * Its about process, design, results * Exhibit runs Februrary 18 to May 7, 2006

10:16am EST – Frank Gehry takes the podium (Eli’s iSight capture ) Frank is wearing a Roots Team Canada jacket to support Wanye Gretzky against the gambling allegations. It’s a real Frank Gehry building. Promised. It’s the first museum that Frank went to as a kid. He’ll be 80 years old when it’s done. It’s valentines day, I’m not home with my wife. Another client is screwing up his birthday in a couple of weeks. He’s turning 77 on February 28, 2006. The next projects he’s working on is a new stadium in Brooklyn for 19,000 people and the New Jersey Nets. The Nets are moving to Brooklyn.

How do you connect audience and performer? Air Canada Centre is one of the best experiences in the world. It’s not great architecture but somebody figured out how to connect the audience and the players with a shared experience. The AGO is the antithesis of the Met in New York.

There are about 200 people in attendance. There’s a lot of traditional reporters, a lot of big fancy digital cameras, and I am pretty sure that Robert and I were first. I am looking forward to seeing Frank Gehry’s reaction to The Simpson’s clip of the Gehry prison episode. Time to head off to see the actual exhibition.

A Sight to Behold
Goodness, this is incredible. Eli is walking around making iSight videos that I am sure he’ll post later. The models are incredible. I didn’t grasp the fidelity the models Gehry builds. They are amazing. You have to see this exhibit. I didn’t understand that Gehry builds these true to form models as part of his process. The models include finishing details, little people in the rooms, furniture. It’s incredible!

Gearing Up For Gehry

February 14th, 2006


Frank Gehry’s return to Toronto touches on a few of the neuroses that makes this city unique. There’s the dynamic of the successful Canadian, going abroad to conquer the world and returning to his humble origins. In Gehry’s case redesigning the first art gallery he visited and one just a few blocks away from where he lived with his grandmother. There were no hard questions from the audience, when Gehry gave a press conference at the AGO this morning for the launch of the exhibit Frank Gehry Art + Architecture (opens Feb. 18).

Coming on stage wearing a black leather Roots jacket, Gehry confessed his love for hockey, support for the men’s Canadian Hockey team in Turin. In short, reminding us, that he’s still Canadian, still one of us despite jet setting around the world, years spent living in California and being as close to a household name as architects get.

And the show? Frank Gehry Art + Architecture looks at four recent projects that Gehry completed in Berlin, Boston, Chicago and LA. Some of the large models are truly breathtaking, like the interior models of the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA (pictured here). The show gives you some insight into the man’s thought process and creativity and it’s easy to see why his buildings have inspired a kind of fervour among city planners, architects and clients.

Photoblogging at the media preview for Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture

February 14th, 2006

Rannie and Sam’s dueling photographs in the Gehry Exhibition
See the Flickr photo set here –

Today the Art Gallery of Ontario held a media preview event for the upcoming Frank Gehry Art + Architecture exhibit. It was the first time the AGO has invited bloggers to attend a media preview, and I have to say I was impressed. I felt I was treated the same as any other member of the major press and they seemed happy to have the bloggers present. The exhibit features models and sketches of a number of Gehry’s recent buildings, including the current Transformation AGO project he designed. Thanks to Eli Singer for the invitation. The other photobloggers present (that I recognized) were Rannie Turingan and Sam Javanrouh. Unfortunately, Tanja-Tiziana Burdi of BlogTO sadly couldn’t make it.

See more photoblogs of the Gehry media preview here::


[daily dose of imagery] – A daily photoblog by Sam Javanrouh
Frank Gehry at AGO

Yesterday Toronto bloggers were invited on the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) for the media preview of Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture. This was a great experience as we were among the people from media to cover the event before the official opening (and to be able to take photographs in a no-photograph exhibition) Thank you AGO for inviting us and special thanks to Eli for making it happen.

I’m a huge fan of Frank Gehry and was thrilled to experience this exhibition and to be able to photograph some great models of his most famous creations. I will post more photos in the upcoming days. in the meantime you can check the flickr pool for more photos by other bloggers and also on my flickr set.

AGO Podcast #8 – Swing Space: Michael Awad Artist Talk

February 6th, 2006

Michael Awad
Photo: Craig Boyko

Artist and urbanist Michael Awad discusses his exhibition, The Entire City Project. Using custom photographic equipment and techniques, Awad captures Toronto, not as a series of individual views, but as continuous images of the urban experience. Two commissioned images of the AGO capture the entire interior of the Gallery prior to its transformation.

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