View from the South of the Mirvish/Gehry proposed project (Image: Gehry International Inc.)
David Mirvish has announced that the Princess of Wales Theatre will be torn down to make way for some fancy Frank Gehry-designed project that will include a new campus for the OCAD University, a new public art gallery called the Mirvish Collection and, yes, condos. So is this good news for Toronto or is the loss of the Princess of Wales a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare?
1. According to Mirvish, his theatre venues (which include the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Ed Mirvish Theatre and the Panasonic Theatre) are operating at between 50 and 60 per cent capacity. Translation: too many large Toronto theatres are dark. With the Princess of Wales out of the equation, the other theatres will absorb its loss, which means more packed houses, and potentially, more theatre.
2. Besides the new OCAD University and art gallery, the new complex will include museums, public areas, retail opportunities and lots of living space that, according to top theatre critic Richard Ouzounian, “Will do much more for our city than the often-empty Princess Wales of Theatre.”
3. Frank Gehry is designing it. The works of the acclaimed Toronto-born architect (which include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. and the redesigned AGO) are often cited as being the most important works of contemporary art, like, ever, so that’s cool.
1. Gehry is designing it. Gehry is a polarizing architect, and his works have been criticized for not belonging in their surroundings. And from the looks of Gehry’s King Street Jenga-looking “sculptures,” that could be a possibility here, too.
2. Toronto is losing a major theatre. Once home to big musicals like Miss Saigon, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, the Princess of Wales certainly has a place in the hearts of many Toronto theatre-goers.
3. It’s more condo buildings. Enough said.
As Mirvish and Gehry wait for the City’s approval, you can take a look at what they have in mind for the King Street ’hood below.