‘A Colourful Past’ will transform the upper windows of The Hermant Building at 19 Dundas Square through vibrant light, intricate patterns, and bold colour, highlighting how the cultural history and story of the site can be told through art and architecture.
Designed by Giaimo, a Toronto-based architecture and heritage conservation firm, ‘A Colourful Past’ 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. When originally built in 1913, 19 Dundas Square was briefly the tallest building in Toronto and designed with ornaments that emphasize 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 the 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 features often go unnoticed by the public when thinking of Yonge-Dundas Square, dominated by the bright billboards, digital advertisements, and busy mall activity. The installation will offer a different perspective and experience to this reality, creating space in the densely populated downtown focal point for public art and engaging heritage interpretation. Visitors will be encouraged to look way up and step back to take in the glowing windows, sparking curiosity about the building. The installation will animate the public realm while communicating the importance of historical properties that form part of the city’s collective memory.