Public Square King and John Urban Ballroom

How about an "Urban Ballroom" for King and John?

King and John may be home to the city's next public square -- that is, if all goes according to the Toronto Entertainment District BIA's plans. As we reported back in November, the organization has taken it upon itself to revitalize a rather anonymous looking bit of public of space to the southeast of the intersection in question.

Well, sort of. Although the BIA organized a design competition for ideas to enrich a portion of what it believes is a "cultural corridor" of some significance, this was undertaken more to gain the interest of City Hall than because there's a pile of money just waiting for the project to break ground. And given the budgetary doom and gloom around these parts -- which is only supposed to get worse in 2012 -- it might be wise to avoid holding one's breath in hopes of a new public square.

Stranger things have happened, of course, and the Star's Christopher Hume notes that the BIA could fork out for the project itself. "Private stakeholders believe in this project and they see it as an important city building initiative," Janice Solomon, president of the BIA, told the paper (which, it should be noted, played party-pooper by revealing the winner of design competition the night before the official announcement).

John Street Ideas Ballroom urban

But to suspend disbelief as to the likelihood of this project's getting underway anytime soon, I will say that the winning proposal is an exciting one, and exactly the type of thing that Toronto needs more of. Despite the fact that I originally favoured one of the other ideas for the square -- namely, the King St. Staircase -- I've come to admire Coryn Kempster's "Urban Ballroom." Not only is it a bit more daring than the other proposals, I get the sense that it'd be significantly more compelling after the sun sets, a trait that's important in our so-called Entertainment District.

The ceiling of the Urban Ballroom is strewn with a series of individually solar-powered globe lights that, if the plans come to fruition, would illuminate the square throughout the evening and night. And I wonder if these little energy efficient bulbs don't offer an apt metaphor for all projects of this kind. Despite the requirement of an initial investment, they tend to sustain the city for years to come.

What do you think of the winning proposal? Would it be a worthy addition to the street-scape or just an example of frivolous spending?

John King Urban BallroomUrban Ballroom Toronto

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