- Where, exactly?
- 1480 Queen St. East at Woodfield
- Who owns it?
- How many units and residents?
- 25 units
- Architectural and building history?
Colloquially, the Woodfield is known as the deaf building, since apparently a lot of tenants there are, in fact, deaf.
JOE: Well, it’s a postmodern building. Even I can see that. It’s even got a tetrahedron on the roof.
IAN: I thought open-corner entrance was a no-no.
— Well, certainly if it’s sunken, right? There’s no sense of welcome. I don’t mind the building, though. You have to go down to get in.
— You do have to go down to get in.
— That’s always a little demeaning.
— I think it’s to do with height limits. They were just barely over for four storeys otherwise.
— They still could have kept the entrance at sidewalk level and then sunken the rest of the building. Is it accessible?
— I don’t think they have an automatic door.
— Do they have a ramp?
— Yeah, all that is .
— On the other hand, it’s a covered entryway, which is nice. Sheltering. Looks like it has one window that opens per unit.
— And what do you think of the colours?
— Well, there’s no real context but I think they’re jolly. Sort of building-blocks colours – toys.
— I like that they’ve kept the alien blue part on the rear third of the building and they’ve attempted to keep the front part “normal,” though it’s like a deformed girl in a nice dress; she’s still deformed.
Front left corner
IAN: I would say that the front part with a sunken removed corner and bright-red windows and mullions is not really “normal.” “Normal” would fit into a context.
JOE: Well, they’re deaf, so, what, the architect thought that they were already practising apartheid? What’s a little standing out in the neighbourhood?
— I wouldn’t put it that way. I would say the architect is trying to make the most of a small budget and trying to make a social-housing unit distinctive instead of banal or repetitive or –
— Yeah, but that’s the problem with Toronto social housing – it’s visible from outer space. They always have some kind of weird architecture and weird colored bricks.
— So you’re saying that what the architect is trying to do to distinguish his building is actually drawing attention to the fact that it’s social housing.
— On the other hand, I’ve also looked at it as giving the poor a kind of rich man’s design. Kind of sticking it to rich people, actually, because they’d have to pay good money for postmodernism and this shit is rent-geared-to-income.
— Of course, we don’t completely agree that it’s postmodern.
— Yes, we fucking do. What are you talking about?
— I’ll say whatever I want. If all the social-housing buildings look like this, it’s kind of a fuck-you to the old warehousing of poor people, like Regent Park and St. James Town.
— Regent Park isn’t a warehouse.
— I said “warehousing.”
— What they’re replacing Regent Park with is gonna be a warehouse. Can we talk about the grill sculpture around the entrance there?
— I have no idea what it is.
— What do you mean?
— The post may be structural, but the flying grille is... an indulgence of the architect.
— But it adds postmodernism, doesn’t it?
— No, it adds a grille. The most postmodern thing about this building is the striped brick, strictly speaking.
— Because it harkens back to the way buildings were layered, almost as though it’s a rusticated look.
— We’ll get to rusticated later.
— Postmodernism always has a foot in the past. We don’t know how it works inside, but I think it works well from the pictures you’ve taken.
— I remember during the blackout walking past there and seeing deaf people sitting around signing in the candlelight and wondering how they managed to get enough light to do that. Only a whole lot later did I find out this is the official deaf building. They also seem to have a normal intercom system at the front door, which I can’t figure out.
— Where were they hanging out?
— Just outside on the stoop there.
— Under the covered entrance?
— No, way out by the sidewalk. Not on the bench or anything.
— Now, see, if you can report they were hanging out in that sunken entrance, you can say it was acting like a court or a meeting place or something like that, but at least on that particular night it wasn’t. No amphitheatre.