Yonge Eglinton Centre –  concrete aGoGo flare & nowhere to sit

Yonge Eglinton Centre – concrete aGoGo flare & nowhere to sit

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:

Inside Eglinton Centre

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:

Inside Eglinton Centre

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:

Yonge and Eglinton CentreYonge and Eglinton Centre
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:

Outside Englinton Centre

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.


Brutal modernity at Eglinton and Yonge Toronto

I was up around the Yonge Eglinton (in Toronto) area recently and popped into the mall. The area is the site of major construction, has been for a while now. The design trolls have been working their peculiar talents on the inside of the Centre for a few years, giving it a facelift. The inside scaffolding came down a few months ago and I keep returning, hoping they haven’t finished with the décor.

However …

… I seem to be wrong.

If the feel the designers were going for is clinical, then BRAVO! Well done. It’s the perfect space for robot servants to do their owner’s shopping. Brutal modernity with a few jumbo screens tossed on the walls. All glass and cold and shiny and sterile. As for the human element, well, let’s just say it’s lacking. Devoid of colours, no warmth and no reason to stop and window shop. The building feels like it’s trying to rush patrons out the door. Whenever I’m in the building, I expect to hear HAL say “your presence can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye” and boot me out the door.

Admittedly, it’s kind of neat from the 2nd floor. You get this odd sense you are in an Escher drawing gone very, very wrong. Way too much attention was paid to the big ass screens on the wall and pillars and zero attention to making the space approachable or comfortable. The inner court is a highway that pushes shoppers rapidly out of the area. It’s a fun spot to watch human behaviour. People start to stroll across the floor, get nervous and look around and then pick up speed. There is NO lingering in the centre court.   It’s like a superhighway pushing people out – “Beep beep … coming through .. No stopping.. Move along”. It’s a very uncomfortable space to be in for any length of time.

I’ll keep popping back, looking for some sign of humanity in the design. I’m a cockeyed optimist that way. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll put a bench or two in. Oh or maybe traffic lights! That would be a plus.

I’ll keep you posted.