York Urbanist

York Region – Iconic Buildings no. 8

December 12th, 2011

Today starts the list of iconic buildings.  Icons of architecture are often created from design competitions, such as the Marilyn Monroe Towers of Mississauga.  They are also frequently publicly owned. There are exceptions.  I hope you find the list of eight to be intriguing insight to where urban design has come to York Region. Each will receive an Iconic Rating and Desirability Rating. Iconic rating is the ability for the building to identify its municipality.  The desirability is a subjective qualification based on sustainability and how the building has and will stand the test of time.

The first is actually two.  Colossus and Canada’s Wonderland are the first major built forms to introduce York Region to travelers upon entry from Toronto. You have read my condemning rants previously, but there is no denying that these buildings are the symbols of what is and was Vaughan.

8a    COLLOSSUS – Famous Players Theatre

One can hardly miss this ‘gateway to Vaughan’.  Lights blazing in the dark skies.  Space ship styling spoke to the future for the City above Toronto.  For all its failings, this is truly an indicator that you have arrived in … ah…. Vaughan.  It won a 1999 Urban Design Award from the City of Vaughan for Page + Steele Architects. In the day, the awards looked for any large expenditure on buildings to reward.  As suggested in Urban Places to Detest, the surroundings of this building are not positive, but as for getting noticed, this building did that.  The architects likely had fun designing this.

Iconic Rating – 9 out of 10

Desirability – 4 out of 10


Until Colossus arrived, CW was your first taste of Vaughan upon arriving via Highway 400 and it became a good reason to keep going to Toronto or Barrie. Each year a new structure pierces the skyline announcing the new season at cheap rates. Former Councillor Jim Cameron vehemently objected to the construction and planning of this some 28 years ago, giving Vaughan an identity that he logically resented. I was told by a police officer that the structures with their moving parts are the reason for multiple traffic mishaps over the years on Highway 400. This event place is iconic, but perhaps not in the manner that we all would wish. Paris’ Eiffel Tower was part of the World Exposition and it remains today as an emblem of Paris. Could Thunder Mountain live on as an icon of Vaughan?

Iconic Rating – 9 out of 10

Desirability – 4 out of 10

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