Grey concrete highrise with colorful window panes


Public art at Dundas Square: A Colourful Past

DesignTO Festival 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. A Colourful Past by Giaimo 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.

The installation also represents the transformation underway at 19 Dundas Square. Giaimo is currently renovating The Hermant Buildings, restoring the architecturally unique features and reimagining the old interior spaces to develop a renewed aesthetic and accommodate future full-floor tenancies.

Visitors are encouraged to look up and step back to take in the glowing windows, sparking curiosity about the building. The installation will be visible from Yonge-Dundas Square January 22-31, 2021 as part of DesignTO Festival. As a light-based installation, the windows are best viewed after dark (5:30pm to 7:30am). If viewing DesignTO Window Installations, please follow proper physical distancing measures and stop to view installations only if this doesn’t put you or others at risk. Learn more here.

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