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The last days of the Tweedsmuir Apartments

Posted by Jonathan Castellino / December 30, 2010

Tweedsmuir Apartment demolitionThere is nothing quite as disturbing as staring off an upper balcony of a gutted high-rise at its equally dead twin.

Adding to the eerie aesthetic element was my personal relationship with the building I was in. In secondary school, I used to stare out of my classroom window at these behemoths , as well as deliver Meals-On-Wheels to clients in the buildings on lunch-break. When I heard of the imminent demolition, I just had to pay the pair one last visit.

Between the buildings lay a wasteland that seemed almost impenetrable. Broken metal, brick and glass covered what was once a sweet little parkette...

TweedsmuirTweedsmuirWalkiing through floor after floor of empty hallways, the silence that permeated this space grew more and more incredible...

TweedsmuirVery little remained to remind one that hundreds of individuals and families once dwelt here...

TweedsmuirTweedsmuir

Those familiar with my photography here know my affinity for rooftops; access at this location seemed sketchy though, to say the least, so we backed away...

TweedsmuirFrom certain angles, I caught glimpses of the football field of my alma mater where I spent many evenings cheering for our team, or doing laps...

TweedsmuirTweedsmuirTweedsmuir.jpgTweedsmuir.jpgThe image of a lone tree on a balcony reminded me of the entropy this property would never see, its razing already in process...

TweedsmuirUnlike most of the buildings I explore, these did not have any historical merit -- at least not to anyone who did not dwell in or deal with them. It was merely the potential of vast emptiness that drew me to visit them before their death. I am at one point sad that a familiar landscape to my own years past was about to change, but at the same time excited to see what will take their place. After all, they all fall down.

(To see the rest of this series, as well as hi-res. versions of those above, you can check out my flickr slide-show below.)

Discussion

18 Comments

Repeats Repeats / December 30, 2010 at 02:03 pm
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Didn't I see this post already on UER?
Jonathan / December 30, 2010 at 02:27 pm
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I may have posted a couple pics on UER from the place, but not in photo-essay format...

: )

Jonathan@blogTO
chephy / December 30, 2010 at 03:49 pm
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Pretty cool images. I'm surprised they are posted half a year after the fact though.
Bonk / December 30, 2010 at 03:52 pm
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If you're looking for another pair of buildings about to go boom check out this gruesome twosome at Dundas and Belshaw Place:
http://tinyurl.com/2cogajs

Interesting note about these hell holes is that each apartment is a two-floor unit. Demolition company banners have been strung from both, so have at it!

Lloyd Alter / December 30, 2010 at 03:57 pm
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as President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, I have to disagree with your statement that "these did not have any historical merit". They were clean, crisp, modern buildings that could have been upgraded and improved and lived for another fifty years. There was no reason to take them down, other than they were rentals in a condo world, and they were not as big as you can get away with Toronto these days. This was such a waste.
Matt replying to a comment from Lloyd Alter / December 30, 2010 at 04:05 pm
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As a person who is sympathetic to the idea that modernist architecture is underrated, and that we'll probably appreciate it more in the future, I still have to say these were pretty bland, tending-towards-ugly buildings.
Jonathan / December 30, 2010 at 04:20 pm
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Lloyd -- all I meant was that they were not on the scale of say, Hearn, the Brickworks, or my usual haunts I write about on this site; of course they could have been saved, but you nailed it on the head as to the reason.

jonathan@blogTO
Larry / December 30, 2010 at 08:10 pm
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Where is this, exactly?
ferguson / December 30, 2010 at 09:33 pm
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I was taking photos across the street from the Tweeds in the summer when a friendly security guard from the condo I was standing in front of offered to take me up to the roof of his building to get a better angle.

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=tweedy&;w=34437403%40N00

It's a shame Toronto's knee-jerk reaction to old and seemingly expired buildings is to tear them down.
gadfly replying to a comment from Lloyd Alter / December 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm
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I couldn't agree more. It's amazing to me how certain people pretend to be 'green,' yet rejoice at the sheer waste of these perfectly good buildings being knocked down for, what - taller, uglier towers?
What I find laughable, is that often the people who are so quick to deride these 'modern, concrete boxes,' fail to realize that the glass, hanging curtain monstrosities that will replace these will probably become dated faster, and will most certainly develop serious envelope and mechanical issues quicker.
I have zero faith in the way these modern condos are slapped together (I should know, I am managing one!) and would wager money that these brick buildings were better built and could be updated more cheaply than the 400 sq ft boxes that will replace them.
Give me quality, made in North America white appliances, parquet REAL hardwood floors and 700 sq ft 1 bedroom with L-shaped dining rooms over the crap that is being constructed today: 'engineered flooring' (what a joke- don't you DARE get them wet!), stainless steel appliances (made in China, guaranteed to last maybe 2 or 3 years without major repairs) and '1+den' designs (translation: tiny 1 bedroom with a tiny alcove off the living room that wouldn't even qualify as a real dining room in these 40 year old buildings!)
Oh, yeah - and make sure you slap 3 towers on the same property for maximum profit, ensuring that everyone has a view of their neighbor's TV (cuts down on your cable costs!)
Adam Sobolak / December 30, 2010 at 11:21 pm
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Another thing worth mentioning about the Tweedsmuir Apts which may underscore any "historical merit" argument: they were designed by Peter Dickinson...
Big Shooter replying to a comment from Larry / December 31, 2010 at 02:49 am
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North of St. Clair, between Bathurst & Spadina (adjacent to St. Mike's)
chris / December 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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they were ugly.
If you travel as much as i do you will understand that these building have no architecturl merit. Can you imagine how they stand up to european architecture...lol
And... Lloyd (President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario) why dont you concentrate on making sure that future buildings that go up in Toronto have some kind of thought, artistic integrity and merit put into them before they go up..

and Lloyd if you want to save something...I would suggest you turn your attention to the Hearn Generating Station in the Portlands that is in danger of being demolished in 2011.
SpaceDog / December 31, 2010 at 01:15 pm
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Amazing photos.

I hope someone saves that little tree on the balcony.
hellebelle / December 31, 2010 at 06:40 pm
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you should've rescued the tree!
Adam Sobolak / December 31, 2010 at 06:49 pm
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"If you travel as much as i do you will understand that these building have no architecturl merit. Can you imagine how they stand up to european architecture...lol"

Tagging "...lol" to a statement isn't usually a sign of one being a discerning authority on European architecture. Sorry.
Lloyd Alter / December 31, 2010 at 07:42 pm
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Chris, I have travelled in Europe, and if there is one thing I have learned it is that buildings are part of a larger context. You don't look at them in isolation and you don't knock them down without a serious discussion; look at what is going on about Robin Hood Gardens in London now. These were designed by Peter Dickinson (which I didnt even know until Adam mentioned it) and that alone made them worthy of consideration. The pile of bricks in jonathan's photograph makes the other point: that this is a huge waste of embodied energy. Those bricks could last a thousand years.

and as for the Hearn, we are on the case.
Adam Sobolak / January 1, 2011 at 08:52 am
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http://robertmoffatt115.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/demolition-of-peter-dickinsons-tweedsmuir-apartments-begins/

And if we flip the equation around, I'm pretty sure a lot of thoughtful, engaged, discerning *European* architectural connoisseurs would be just as concerned. Remember: just because they're from out of town and more supposedly "sophisticated" jurisdictions where Toronto's and Canada's midcentury-modern architectural historiography's usually off radar, doesn't mean they'd sniff the issue off as beneath them. That'd be like Lloyd Alter sniffing off the pro-Colborne-Street Brantfordians on asinine "no architectural merit compared to Toronto" grounds.

Of course, there's a more-than-reasonable possibility that "well-travelled" Chris doesn't even know what Robin Hood Gardens is...

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