On October 27, the well known street artist Banksy posted a short piece on his blog describing the new One World Trade Centre building as “Vanilla”. Banksy claims that the new tower is a betrayal to those that lost their lives on September 11. The backlash was swift as numerous news outlets, including the BBC and the NY Daily News, have criticized the article. One of the comments Banksy makes is that the new tower is “something they would build in Canada”. But does this statement have any merit? Is Canada’s architecture something to mock?
Having claimed the title of the worlds tallest tower for 34 years, the CN Tower has garnered both praise and criticism. On the one hand, it attracts millions of tourists each year, and is one of the top attractions in the country. On the other hand, critics have often identified the tower as an eyesore. Colin Vaughan, an architect and political specialist for CityTV from 1977 to his passing in 2000, claimed:
“The first disappointment comes at the main entrance. There’s no sensation of arriving at the base of a tall structure to be overwhelmed by the vision of the tower ahead… But none will experience the unique sensation, the vertigo and the straight excitement which should accompany a visit to a structure of this scale” (TorontoIST).
This aside, the CN Tower is one of the American Civil Engineering Societies Seven Wonders of the World and is second place in the world federation of towers (CN Tower). There can be no doubt, this icon is a masterpiece that has put Canada on the map.
Award Winning Architecture
According to the official website, the Emporis Skyscraper Award is the world’s most renowned prize for high-rise architecture and has been awarded on an international basis every year since 2000. In 2012, the Emporis Skyscraper Award was given to the Absolute World Towers (also known as the Marilyn Manroe Towers) in Mississauga, Ontario (Emporis).
The Bow building in Calgary, Alberta is the tallest office building in Canada outside of Toronto. In 2012, it finished fourth in the Emporis Skyscrapper Award and was also ranked in the top ten architectural projects of 2012 by Azure Magazine (Azure).
Canada is also home to some truly spectacular bridges. The Peace Bridge in Calgary, Alberta was ranked in the top ten architectural projects of 2012 by Azure Magazine. In addition, CCN composed a list of the top 24 most spectacular bridges in the world, and both the New Brunswick Hartland Bridge and Confederation Bridge in Prince Edward Island were among them (CNN)
Producing World-Renowned Architects
Canadians can also be proud of the fact that many esteemed architects around the world are Canadian. Frank Gehry was born in Toronto and was revered by Vanity Fare as the most important architect of our age (Vanity Fair). Gehry has designed iconic buildings around the globe, including the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Back in Canada, he designed the new addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has been given outstanding reviews by architects around the globe (NY Times).
As Canadians, we all agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I will not say that Banksy should take back what he said, nor will I attack him as an artist for having an opinion. However, this article has provided you with enough information to allow you to formulate your own opinion regarding the amount of “vanilla” architecture in Canada. There is much to be proud of as Canadians, and I believe that the quality of architecture in Canada is something that speaks for itself.
For an indepth look at various other Canadian masterpieces, see the recent article by The Glove and Mail.