I wander all over the city in the course of a week – I pretty much see it all. The other day, I was cooling my heels up at Yonge and Eglinton, or Young & Eligible as it’s demographically referred to by some. Anyway, the big plaza on the NW corner was under refurbishment for a couple of years. Platforms, coverings, construction for months and months made it look as if the entire concourse was going to have a full facelift. Every time I nipped in I thought wow, wonder what magic they are pulling. Imagine my surprise when it was finally unwrapped to display a barren wasteland that looks like an unwanted GoGo club:
Unwelcoming and uninviting are two words that come to mind - big, blocky, barren, clinical and not a fricken place to sit!
They turned the shopping centre from a place you could go and relax to a through fare where everyone rips through without stopping to shop. Nothing invites you to stay. Well, the lights do change colours to change the mood from a over the top, neon-vomit inducing pink fluffy bunny on acid to clinical, intense florescent white on white that washes over you like a depressing hospital corridor:
The over all design encourages people to move along as rapidly as possible. Nothing entices you to stroll along to the back end of the mall. Notice the complete lack of seats. Nothing to make a customer linger:
All in all, the effect gives a sense of urgency, when you are enter. YOu get the feeling you are supposed to get in and get out as quickly as possible, don't stand around.
The food court downstairs is far worse. It's so dim and bland, I simply couldn't get a decent shot. It’s an industrial ring of hell – light fixtures hanging from a concrete ceiling, exposed pipes and rails painted gray. The designers didn’t seem to think of sound baffles so the noise can be explosive at times. The wretched industrial gray doesn’t get the taste buds eager to try anything so why bother. I've been in cafes that had an industrial look and when done right, they are incredible works of art that indulge the eyes and senses. This food court seemed like an afterthought.
What was done outside is a bigger travesty. There used to be an open court where you could bring a lunch or coffee out and enjoy the day. Some benches, a cafe with tables and plant boxes gave it a nice feel. Bit windy at times, but generally a nice place to take a break. It’s gone – gone gone gone. Just a big claustrophic wall of noise where the little courtyard was:
Nothing the owners can do now will turn this into anything but a blighted urban bunker. Not sure if the designers were deliberatly going for urban wasteland, but if they did, well ... kudos .. well done. It feels as grubby as it looks on the outside. The inside is too clinical and calculating to enjoy.