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Book launch for Making Toronto Modern: Architecture and Design 1895-1975


April 10, 2014
by Canadian Architect

A new publication by Christopher Armstrong, professor emeritus of history at York University entitled Making Toronto Modern: Architecture and Design 1895–1975 launches from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Swipe Design/Urbanspace Gallery in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. This new publication is by Christopher Armstrong, professor emeritus of history at York University.

Making Toronto Modern provides an engaging description of professional and public debate on architecture and urban design. The depth and comprehensiveness of Christopher Armstrong’s research represents a substantive contribution to the existing literature on Toronto, and to Canadian architectural history generally.”

– Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, University of British Columbia

In the final years of the 19th century, Toronto architects started to consider how their city, through progressive architecture and urban planning, could be made “modern.” Making Toronto Modern constructs Toronto’s architectural past to create a compelling narrative of how new ideas about Modernism were debated, received, and embodied in new buildings.

Through a close examination of political debates, architectural journals, and home design magazines, Christopher Armstrong describes the competing motivations and ideals that influenced the ways in which the city was built. He shows how radical architectural ideas from Europe began to influence Toronto architects and planners in the 1920s, but that the city’s residents proved cautiously conservative about Modernism. It was not until the prosperous 1950s that the Modern movement gained wider acceptance through the work of a new generation of practitioners and by the time Viljo Revell’s dramatic New City Hall opened in 1965, it was clear that popular attitudes had undergone significant change. The book profiles major public buildings, university commissions, commercial buildings, and a range of residential architecture – from the homes of the city’s richest businessmen in the early 20th century to Modernist works such as the Betel, Horne and Fraser residences 60 years later. Extensively illustrated with period photographs, many previously unpublished, this broad overview fills a major gap in Toronto’s architectural history.

A reminder of what is at stake in the reception of new architecture and the factors that shape the development of contemporary architecture, Making Toronto Modern is critical to understanding how Torontonians came to see themselves as living in a world-class city attuned to the avant-garde.

Making Toronto Modern is a serious scholarly work and a considered and well-elaborated history of the buildings and planning activities in Toronto during the period.”

– George Kapelos, Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University

 Swipe Design/Urbanspace Gallery is located at 401 Richmond Street West, #121. Tweet a photo of your favourite #modernTO building for a chance to win a signed copy of Christopher Armstrong’s book!


making toronto modern
making toronto modern


Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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