Is Toronto Too Tall? by Stephanie Cloutier

Crane your neck up and you’ll notice that our city has gotten a lot taller. Ten plus years ago, our highest buildings included the CN Tower and office towers from the financial district; now, our landscape has changed dramatically. The fact that our city has built more towers per square capita than any other city in North America invites concerning questions: Who will fill these units?  How crowded will our streets be?  Is it safe to keep building higher and higher?

"Too Tall?" is Harbourfront’s newest exhibit, exploring these questions along with defending arguments by three Toronto architecture firms (RAW, KLMB and architectsAlliance) and artist Douglas Walker. Visual installations include photography, interactive demos, past and current projects by the three firms explaining why taller may, in fact, be better. Building upwards is one of the most affordable ways to add more density to an area without taking up too much room. As RAW suggests, as the world's population increases, we may need to sprawl vertically, not horizontally.

Still, concerns from neighbourhood dwellers have arisen that our downtown core is becoming too dense. Instead of being simply concerned over our changing landscape, perhaps we should ask if these new condos and office buildings are adding value to our neighbourhoods. As KLMB points out in the exhibit, tall buildlings should not only enrich our skyline but our daily interaction with them as well.

"Too Tall?" helps us to examine architects' responses to social, environmental and aesthetic issues, while helping us understand our city’s upward evolution. It will be showing at the Architecture Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, until December 31, 2011.


Stephanie Cloutier is a photographer, writer, and a wannabe lady of leisure. Her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, blogTO and SoundProof Magazine. You can find her posts here, find more of her work on her website here, follow her on Twitter (@stephcloutier) and e-mail her at


Post a Comment