DIG IN: Lansdowne TTC Barns site 1/2 block north of Bloor

March 2007
The Jane Jacobs City Centre
Drawing and concept by Ann Homan, DIG IN Chair

This site is directly south of the TTC lands and would connect to it in a general revitalization strategy for the Bloor Lansdowne block.

Cultural Intensification, the vacant lot becomes:

A Proposal for an institution to help us understand that the city is a changing and changeable organism. This would be a place to develop plans for a better city and to see and hear leading local, national and international ideas:


The recently demolished TTC barns on Lansdowne Avenue becomes the site for The TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE CITY. This institution would present exhibitions exploring the history of Toronto including exhibits focusing on our changing city and our multi-cultural heritage accompanied by leading contemporary forums and exhibitions engaged with disciplines that help create cities including: architecture, landscape architecture, public art, urban design and community arts.

This would be the first stop for visitor to get an overview of Toronto and a popular destination for school and educational groups. It would have the potential to be a leading attraction.

A residential unit could also be built on this large site to make needed housing available and to help subsidize the operating cost of the Museum. A few residential units may be used as in-residence accommodation for Museum-invited leading national and international visiting architects and artist.

A private foundation or The Toronto Public Library may be interested in opening up a branch or reading room focused on architecture, landscape architecture, public art, community arts and urban design.

The location is excellent. It is one block north from the Bloor subway at the Lansdowne stop, a short subway hop from the Royal Ontario Museum and directly north of the Queen Street West Gallery District.

A cultural loop utilizing the convenience of TTC travel could advertise a circle trip linking the Ceramic Museum, The Rom, The Bata Shoe Museum and the proposed The Toronto Museum (all connected on the Bloor Line heading west) then a short travel south on the Lansdowne Bus to Queen Street West to see the New Gallery District walk east to the Art Gallery of Ontario and 401 Richmond then see a play at the King Theater District and end the evening at a night club in the same area.

The creation of institution would substantially help the troubled local community. A long-standing tightrope of drug activity stretches along Lansdowne Avenue, shuttling back and forth for years between Dupont and Bloor. Cut the rope by converting the vacant TTC barns site into a cultural institution and it will become the revitalization engine for the entire area.
(International urban renewal experiments have explored placing cultural institutions in problemed communities with excellent results. PS1 in New York, The Tate Museum in London…)

This large site is now contaminated with toxic chemicals and the police have recently claimed the site for a new station - the site is big enough for both a station and a cultural institution - having them together could even be a good mix of influences. The location is now being cleaned and the process will take several years to complete. This gives time for planning.