Reader Image of the Week

Monday 19 Nov 2012

Frank Gehry's spiralling staircase at the Art Gallery of Ontario by Johanna Hoffmann

Regular WAN readers will remember some time ago when we invited all subscribers to our weekly News Review to send in photos they’d taken of inspirational architecture. Our Newsdesk was flooded with emails from designers and architects the world over toting professionally-shot, glossy photographs to holiday snapshots where readers had stumbled upon a building which had caught their imagination and captured it on film.

Although we had originally intended to use these images for a ‘Photo of the Day’ feature on the WAN homepage, with the complete redesign of our News Review we have decided to run a ‘Reader Image of the Week’ series, giving these gems as much exposure as possible. We’re also welcoming sketches to this new series so please send your creations to complete with your name, the practice you work for and a short description of the photo or sketch noting what it is, the name of the architect and why it captured your attention.

Kicking off the series we have this stunning photo from Johanna Hoffmann in Toronto which depicts the main staircase at the Art Gallery of Ontario by Frank Gehry. The architect’s first commission in his home city of Toronto, the transformation of the Art Gallery of Ontario saw a glass and wood façade rise 70ft above the street below, a 450ft sculpture gallery inserted, a four-storey south wing installed and encased in titanium and glass, and a swirling wooden staircase link the historic Walker Court to the new centre for contemporary art.

In a 2008 review in the New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote: “At the far end of the court, a spectacular new spiralling wood staircase rises from the second floor, punching through the glass roof and connecting to the contemporary gallery floors in the rear of the building. The staircase leans drunkenly to one side as it rises, and the tilt of the form sets the whole room in motion.

“When you reach the first landing, the stair rail keeps rising rather than becoming level with the floor, so that your view back across the court temporarily disappears and the returns. It’s as if you were riding a wave. This is a textbook example of how architecture can be respectful of the past without being docile. All the old spaces and the memories they house are brought lovingly back to life.”

Sian Disson
News Editor

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