Catching Up with Gehry in LA and Toronto

John Hill
21. February 2019
Left: The Grand in Downtown Los Angeles; right: Mirvish+Gehry in Toronto

With Frank Gehry's 90th birthday coming at the end of the month, it's worth checking in on the status of two huge projects he's working on in the city he calls home and the one where he was born.

Gehry was born as Frank Owen Goldberg in Toronto on February 28, 1929. He relocated to Los Angeles around 1950, by which time he took the Gehry name and enrolled in architecture school at USC. It's here, in Southern California, where Gehry experimented with architecture – most notably on his own house in Santa Monica – and where he maintains his large practice. His most significant building in LA is definitely the Walt Disney Concert Hall, completed in Downtown LA (abbreviated these days as DTLA) in 2003.

Directly across the street from Disney is the site for The Grand, a full-block mixed-use project that would contain shops, restaurants, entertainment, a hotel, and residences in two towers atop a large podium. It's an upscale, $1 billion project being developed by Stephen Ross's Related Companies with CORE USA. Born ca. 2008 as the Grand Avenue Development, the Gehry/Ross project was stalled by the recession, reworked in subsequent years, and gained the first of a number of approvals in early 2014. Last year the parking garage that occupied the site was taken down, and earlier this month The Grand's ceremonial groundbreaking took place, targeting a late 2021 completion.

A couple thousand miles east and north of LA, in downtown Toronto, is the site for Mirvish+Gehry, a mixed-use development originally designed as three tall towers but then scaled down to two towers (82 and 92 stories) in mid-2014, when it won city approval. The Mirvish+Gehry website has not been updated much in the last five years, but a story at Architectural Record by Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic reveals why: "Mirvish sold the development to Great Gulf and its partners Westdale Properties and Dream corporation in 2017." Even though the project's long gestation and lack of communication points to its uncertain future, Bozikovic writes, "the developers say they plan to begin marketing condo units this year." If built, the now-81- and 91-story towers would be the tallest in Toronto.

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