Buildings go up and they come down. They make the news routinely, and seldom shock. But new plans from master builder Frank Gehry can strike one as downright scandalous in that they signal the surrender of his long-lived aversion to straight lines and the 90-degree angle.

Toronto towers

Behold Gehry’s design for two towers set to soar straight up 977 feet over everything else in his hometown of Toronto. Goodbye dizzying mishmash of swirling, shifting shapes as in his Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. Hello to the building-block-style superstructure with steel and glass curtain walls, certain to reshape the skyline as the tallest buildings in Canada’s capital city.

The Daily Mail sees these structures as “an instant landmark.”

Is that really you, Frank?

At 91, Gehry doesn’t even sound like himself, telling the Daily Mail “I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city.” Really, Frank? Are altitudinous towers that look like nothing else in sight “respectful to the city”?

From Gehry’s drawings, the towers look handsome enough. But their supposed connection to the city is not apparent. Don’t take my word for it. In the words of The Globe, when all is said and done, the towers will be "the biggest and the tallest buildings of his career." And to hear Worldarchitecture.org tell the story, the towers “aimed to change the skyline of Toronto.” So much for context.

Say what?

Gehry told the Globe that his Toronto towers “have a level of humanity other buildings around them don’t have.” As if to explain what he means by humanity, he told the Daily Mail that it will come from texture detailing of stainless steel and blue glass on the exterior.

One may reasonably ask how the surface texture of any description can humanize a 977 feet tall tower looming over even a very tall human.

Gehry’s plan for straight-lined buildings is one surprise but telling the press that he wants to lend them an allure of humanity almost sounds like a joke - mocking himself for the skyscraping colossus he plans for Toronto.

Split personalities

Wait, there’s more. Gehry not only believes in the “humanity” of his Goliaths but also something else. Dezeen, an online architecture magazine quotes him saying, “I wanted the two towers each to have their own personality, but I also wanted them to talk to each other.” That’s a very tall order, Frank. Worldarchitecture reports that more than 2,000 condo apartments in Gehry’s towers go on sale next year.

That’s a lot of talking needed between the towers, Frank.

Uh, oh

According to a New York Times report on Feb. 5 headlined “The Downside to Life in a Supertall Tower,” 432 Park Avenue – the 85-story structure with the exclusive address designed by celebrated architect Rafael Vinoly – leaks. And as Dezeen reports, “other luxury high-rises may share its fate.” This is a cautionary tale for the prospective buyers of those 2,000-plus condo apartments in the Toronto towers. I’m just saying.

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