* Toronto entertaiment mogul to transform skyline
* Massive plan in early stages, needs city approval
By Russ Blinch
TORONTO, Oct 1 Toronto's theater district as
well as the skyline of Canada's biggest city will be transformed
by star architect Frank Gehry as a tribute to the city in which
he spent his childhood under an ambitious plan unveiled on
The project, the brainchild of Canadian theater impresario
and arts patron David Mirvish, involves erecting three
condominium towers, each 80 to 85 stories high. At the base of
the buildings will be two six-story podiums that will provide
retail space, seminar rooms and lecture halls. Two new museums
will be constructed, including one to house a contemporary art
collection owned by the Mirvish family.
"We hope to deliver a streetscape that is evocative of old
Toronto," said Gehry, 83, who was born in the city and is known
for his iconic designs, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao,
Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Mirvish said he sees the project, which may take many years
to complete, continuing the work of his late father, Ed Mirvish,
who was a driving force in Toronto's arts and theater community.
"This area was transformed 50 years ago after my father
purchased the Royal Alexandra Theatre and this project will
continue the theater's future and transform the neighborhood
again for the next 50 years," Mirvish said.
The project must still be approved by the city, and some
parts of the plan could prove controversial, largely because of
its huge scope and daring architectural designs.
The plan envisions tearing down Mirvish's Princess of Wales
Theatre, where the hit "War Horse" is currently playing, and
some adjacent heritage buildings to make way for the project,
which could spark opposition.
Toronto is in the midst of a condominium building boom and
the Gehry project's three towers could add to a potential supply
glut. Some analysts have warned a market crash may be coming
because of the frenetic construction pace.
(Reporting By Russ Blinch; Editing by Peter Galloway)