Van Der Rohe Plaza Adapted to Ward Off Skateboarders

In a privately-owned plaza designed by Mies van der Rohe in Toronto, owners have sliced into benches to dissuade skateboarding. Some call it an affront to the legendary designer's work.

"The surgical incisions, as wide as a man's hand and deep enough to reveal a lighter tone of granite, have been made at regular intervals around the edge of each slab bench. Works that belonged to an epic story of 1960s minimalism in the downtown have suffered a slam - a bad, unexpected fall from grace. I'd rather see the disfigured benches removed from the plaza than witness the body blow."

"The benches once lined the flamed-granite plaza as singular, reliable places to sit or lie down during the lunch hour. The calculated defacement is an attempt by the landlord to forever prevent the grinding, fakies and fat tricks of skateboarders who occasionally invade the privately owned plaza."

"The landlord considers the incisions to be part of a necessary restoration more appropriate to the mess of people who increasingly want in on some downtown action. 'We're restoring our benches, rather than replacing them,' says Steven Sorensen, general manager of the Toronto-Dominion Centre."

Full Story: Cuts in iconic benches mess with Miesian aesthetic

Comments

Comments

viva la skateboard

Very interesting article. This has always been a "city issue" that bothered me. Landlords and building maintenance staff will go to such drastic measures to keep the evil scorn of skateboarding off of their property. The vast majority of the solutions that are used to do this look exponentially worse than the waxed edges and skid marks that would be left by the skateboarders. I'd rather see a plaza any day that shows the wear and tear of long skateboarding sessions than one that has been bastardized in a futile attempt to stop it. The worn out corners and chipped edges help to give the space character, show that it has life, and shows the hidden potential of the design. I think (or would like to anyway) that most designers would prefer to see their work used, albeit in a trying manner, instead of modified in an attempt to halt skateboarding.

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