The transformation of Maple Leaf Gardens
When Maple Leaf Gardens was shuttered in 1999, the fate of the arena was as contentious a topic as you could care to discuss in Toronto circles. What was a fitting way to preserve the Original Six ice rink? What could be done to avoid the rise of condos on Carlton Street? When news broke in 2004 that Loblaws was interested in turning the building into a grocery store, the preservationists prepared for battle.
It would be easy to say that this was a fight they lost given the main floor tenant of the former arena, but that's not the impression I got at yesterday's unveiling of the rink at the new Ryerson Athletic Centre. The public pressure to do something fitting with the building was so profound that a novel partnership was struck between Ryerson and Loblaws in 2009, which ultimately ensured that the Gardens would remain an arena in some capacity.
No, it's not the the grand public space it used to be — not by a long shot — but rather than existing solely as a shrine to the past, the new MLG is a bustling place that's injected loads of energy into what was once a rather tired stretch of Carlton. That'll only increase as Ryerson students return to class this fall and start using the facilities in earnest.
Could there be more gestures to the building's former function incorporated into the redesign. Yes, particularly at the grocery store below, but the features that do remain — the cathedral-like roof, the balcony seating, and the wonderful marquee, to name only the most obvious — ensure that accusations of facadism will be few and far between.
This isn't settling — it's what revitalization looks like.
October (via Salsavaders)
December (via Big Blue Toe Productions)
January (via Ryerson and Loblaw Companies Limited)
August (via Loozrboy)
October (via Ryerson)
January (via Tom Ryaboi)
July (via landen alger is real)
November (via the author)
March (via Ryerson)
- Project cost: $60 million
- The Athletic Centre spans almost 150,000 square feet and includes:
- 2600 seat ice rink
- 200 metre running track
- Basketball and volleyball courts
- Fitness Centre
- Food concessions