In 1971 I was working with Irving Grossman Architect, one of Canada's premier housing architects in Toronto. One day, Irving announced that I would be joined in the back room by a young architect who he had hired as a favour to a good friend David Lewis, the then Leader of the NDP in Canada.
The new guy, Daniel, was David's son-in-law and had never worked in an architect's office before. He didn't really know how to draw very well; but he was a very good talker, and thinker. One day Irving called me into his office to tell me he had just lost a big contract with the Ontario Housing Corporation and there wasn't enough work to keep both Daniel and me. Consequently, he was going to let me go, since as he put it, he wasn't worried about me getting another job, but feared it might be more difficult for Daniel.
Irving was right. Within a few days I had an interview in Ottawa with CMHC and started work a month later on Mothers' Day 1972. As for Daniel, he went on to design the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the replacement for the World Trade Centre and an addition to the Royal Ontario Museum.
Daniel was, of course, Daniel Libeskind.
I thought about this story this past week when I decided to explore Daniel's chrystalline expansion to the ROM. While I watched the project under construction during infrequent visits to Toronto, I knew I would likely be upset by the completed project. I was.I can't believe this project was allowed to get built. While there are some dramatic angles and views, it is a most unfortunate design and the juxtaposition between the new and old buildings is so awkward, it is difficult to look at. The inside spaces are even worse.I watched people trying to open the front doors and they didn't know what to do. Similarly, those charged with furnishing the inside didn't know what to do.Some people have said they think this is a great building in that it reflects the look of the minerals on display inside. However, if they looked at some of Libeskind's other buildings, they would see that they too reflect the look of minerals, whether they be a War Museum in Manchester, a Jewish Museum in Berlin....you get the point.I would like to like this building, but I can't. Let's hope Daniel doesn't get to design Vancouver's new Art Gallery.