Public Spaces, Private Investment

CBC’s Metro Morning is running a series this week on the transformation of public space in Chicago by privately funded improvements.  Some flavour of the series is on their website here.

Why can’t we do this sort of thing in Toronto?  There is much hand wringing and bemoaning the lack of civic pride and good works that would make a truly Beautiful City.  Council rejects proposals of private funding for the renovation of Nathan Philips Square.  What are we thinking?

Well, take a good look at the Chicago photos on the CBC site.  You will notice, or rather not notice, something that is far too common here in Toronto:  advertising.

You can’t move in public spaces these days for advertising, and nothing gets built without a whacking great corporate logo on it.  What is the point of art and architecture when the dominant visual is whatever piece of dreck XYZ corporation is trying to sell this week?

If the private sector is really interested in making Toronto a better place, it will give us good, friendly spaces, impressive where that is appropriate, subtle, amusing and just refreshing where that’s what is needed.  A little plaque somewhere will tell us something about XYZ.

Nathan Phillips Square looks good without 10-storey-high neon advertising, thank you.