By now, everyone knows the Princess of Wales Theatre is going to be demolished to make way for a condo and culture development covering a couple blocks on the north side of King in the entertainment district.
This morning, David Mirvish sent an email explaining his decision to help transform a major section of the entertainment district. He's making a full announcement tomorrow, but here are some excerpts from his letter:
Our vision is a project that will encompass three distinct and remarkable residential towers that will be unlike anything that has been built in Toronto. They will be grounded by stepped podiums that will house a large, new public gallery called the Mirvish Collection, a new campus for the OCAD University, and planted terraces that will create a green silhouette overlooking King Street.
The design will create a new profile for the arts and entertainment district at the streetscape and in the skyline, add significantly to the John Street Cultural Corridor, and provide new and enhanced public spaces.
The new 60,000-square-foot Mirvish Collection gallery will be a destination for viewing contemporary abstract art. The Mirvish Collection, which my wife and I have built over 50 years, comprises works by leading artists, including Jack Bush, Anthony Caro, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, David Smith and Frank Stella. The nonprofit Mirvish Collection will be free, open to the public and will present artist-focused exhibitions. The gallery will also be available to other institutions and to travelling art shows.
If there were a way of completing this project without removing the Princess of Wales Theatre, we would have followed it. But after careful consideration and many different plans, I decided not giving Gehry a full canvas on which to work would have meant compromises that would have lessened the power of the project.
This wasn't an easy decision. It has always been my philosophic position that one should never tear down a theatre, even if it isn't fully operational, because a community that is healthy and growing will eventually find its way to use the theatre. I lavished an enormous amount of energy, creativity and money to build the Princess of Wales Theatre. It is a beautiful facility of which I am very proud, but it happens to be situated in the middle of the new project's path.
The artwork by Frank Stella that was created specifically for the Princess of Wales Theatre will be documented and much of it saved. Stella will also work with Gehry to find ways to incorporate new artwork in this new project.
The Princess of Wales Theatre will not be forgotten. It will be memorialized in the new project, as will Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales, herself, who graciously allowed us to name the theatre in her honour while she was still alive.
Please be assured that the Mirvish family will continue to produce and present as many, if not more, theatrical offerings...