Archives for posts with tag: skyline

This post originally appeared on Spacing Toronto

With the L Tower nearing completion, Toronto’s horizon has been pierced by another iconic skyscraper. The L Tower’s semicircular form is instantly recognizable, joining the CN Tower as a structure that will further distinguish Toronto’s famous skyline.

The L Tower’s shape could be interpreted in so many ways, making me wonder why we don’t nickname more buildings in this city.

The Cheesegrater and the Gherkin playfully loom side by side in the City of London

In London, UK, any building that looks remotely like something else is instantlynicknamed. Most famously, there’s the Gherkin (officially the Swiss Re building), and even before completion, the Leadenhall Building has been dubbed the Cheesegrater. The Shard was formerly the London Bridge Tower until criticism that it was “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London” caught on and the name was officially changed. Closer to home we have the Marilyn Monroe buildings in Mississauga. Distracted by their curves, few call these towers by their official moniker, Absolute World.

Beyond providing a memorable shorthand, nicknaming towers brings a playful sensibility to the cityscape, personalizing these hulking masses of steel and glass. The process of collectively naming a tower can bring a sense of ownership over the city to its residents, even with a development process that seems like it’s out of our control.

The iconic forms of Toronto's skyline. Photo by Victor Razgaitis, from

With the L Tower almost finished, Toronto has a chance to bestow our very own unconventional building with a nickname. (The L Tower is sort of a nickname, but it derives from the first iteration of its design which included a perpendicular podium, making a giant L.)  So, what should we call it? The Swoop? How about the Swoosh? Or the Scoop? The Shark Fin? Or is the L Tower a good enough nickname?

And, without going too far, why stop there. We could call Scotia Plaza the Zipper, the TD Canada Trust Tower could be the Wedding Cake. The Ritz Carlton… the Exacto Knife? What else do you suggest?

Towers in Toronto

Leading image by Sam Javanrouh 



Dear readers,

The Urban Geographer has been through a lot of development since its humble first post in January 2011. Since then, I have used this space as a platform for observations, theories, landscape architecture exercises and political activism, and am grateful for your readership and loyalty through the convoluted and through the clear.

I have detected a shift in the blog, toward a more focused and less rough approach to communicating ideas. I sense a wider audience emerging and an ability to use this blog as a tool and catalyst for greater projects.

I would like to formally mark this growth, this evolution and shift with a brand new banner!

The new banner is sleeker, more colourful and trendy. Yes, it’s still a skyline — easy and over used urban imagery — but, I’m just so gosh-darn attracted to it as a symbol of the urban. In the imageability of a city, the skyline is one of the most important symbols. This is especially true in my home-city of Toronto (Tall-ronto), which is experiencing the largest rate of highrise construction in North America.

And speaking of Tall-ronto, you might have noticed that I’ve dropped the Montreal and Halifax skylines from the banner. This is not because these places are no longer important to me — they areMy heart remains in Halifax, my beginnings as an urbanist are firmly Montrealais — but my travels have brought me to many cities, and the lessons I’ve learnt from them are fundamentally incorporated into my approach as an Urban Geographer – so, to simplify things, I’ve chosen to focus on the Toronto skyline. It is, after all, as city of the now – and, not to mention, I will be returning there this June to present at the Urban Ecologies conference, and reckon I’ll be setting up some sort of a nest there for an undetermined period of time…

And, for the sake of history, let’s look at the evolution of the Urban Geographer banners:

The first banner (January, 2011) was a rough, pixelated and sloppy mashing of the Toronto and Montreal skylines – cities that then formed the basis of my urban experiences at that time.

The second banner (July, 2011) was a much more elegant, hand drawn skyline that also included Halifax, as I had just moved there for the first time.

Readers will be happy to know that the tagline of the blog “let’s read the city, together!” remains unchanged. The project of urban literacy remains central to the motivations of The Urban Geographer.

See also Banner Archive (July, 2011)