Runner-up: Paddy Harrington tells us about Toronto...
For people who don't live in cities, skyscrapers
can be both the symbol of what is fascinating and
awful about city life. There's something very
powerful about just looking up at a tall building
to see how high it goes. And there's something
very impersonal about all that steel and glass.
In Toronto, there is a cluster of buildings designed
by a famous German architect: Mies van der Rohe. They
stand right at the heart of downtown. They
are black. Many people do not really think
much about them since they aren't the tallest, or
But to walk around and among these buildings is
to discover one of the more beautiful urban spaces
The entire block was built up to an even level,
a podium. And the buildings are arranged on
this stone podium in a way that leaves great open
spaces between the buildings and the street. And
in these open spaces are beautiful square lawns with
trees and flower beds.
If you lie down on the green lawn and look up
at the blue sky, framed by these noble black buildings,
the city seems to become quiet. You could be
surrounded by people and traffic, but for a moment,
the city becomes quiet.
Great buildings designed by thoughtful people
become art with the power to transform. Mies
van der Rohe transformed the heart of Toronto into
an austere escape that clearly shows what the modern
city has the potential to become.