A Colourful Past
Revealed as part of DesignTO Festival 2021, A Colourful Past transforms the upper windows of The Hermant Building at 19 Dundas Square through vibrant light and patterns, highlighting the many stories of the site and its cultural history. The installation aims to foster awareness of The Hermant Buildings’ cultural value by displaying an abstract interpretation of the many different historic narratives and unique features associated with the site.
19 Dundas Square, Toronto
DesignTO, Best in Festival Award, 2021
When originally built in 1913, 19 Dundas Square was briefly the tallest building in Toronto and designed with ornaments that emphasized this vertical feat. It also demonstrated technological achievements at the time, with its early use of reinforced concrete construction.
Beside it is 21 Dundas Square, designed in 1929 by Benjamin Brown, the first practicing Jewish architect in Toronto, displaying a high degree of craftsmanship through its Art Deco influences and decorative paneling.
Over the decades, the activity within the buildings added to its rich history, with tenants ranging from Imperial Optical to conspicuous jewelry shops. The evolution of the site reflects the changing local needs of the area and the general intensification and development of the downtown core.
Today, these buildings often go unnoticed by the public when thinking of Yonge-Dundas Square, dwarfed by the bright billboards, digital advertisements, and busy mall activity. The installation offers a different perspective and experience to this reality, creating space in the densely populated downtown focal point for public art and engaging heritage interpretation.
A Colourful Past also represents the transformation underway at 19 Dundas Square. Giaimo is currently renovating The Hermant Buildings for HNR Properties, restoring the architecturally unique features and reimagining the century-old interior spaces to develop a renewed aesthetic and accommodate future full-floor tenancies. Renovating the 90,000sqft space allows for the creation of culturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable and beautiful spaces. Our team recognized that the construction period was a unique opportunity to activate the exterior of the building for the public.