On Sunday I finally got to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now: Go inside the abandoned Tower Automotive building on Sterling Road. The Art Spin held their fourth annual show inside this old factory and gave me, and a few hundred others, the opportunity to legally go inside this space.
The 10-storey Tower Automotive building first opened its doors in 1920 and started producing, among other things, automotive parts. Then, 85 years later, it shut down and since 2005, has been sitting mostly empty, waiting to be turned into condos.
As a fan of old, decaying buildings, I’ve been interested in getting inside the TA building since I first spotted it from the window of my old office, located on Morrow Avenue. When I lived on Sorauren, I would regularly walk past it on my way to Bloor and Lansdowne and wonder what it was like inside. I supposed I could have snuck into it, plenty of other people certainly did, but I am too much of a wimp to do that (plus the TA building is boarded up quite well nowadays).
Because I am a wimp, I always figured that my first visit to the TA building would be when its model suite opened. But then on the weekend Art Spin took over the bulk of the ground floor and used it to showcase over a dozen urban-themed contemporary art pieces that ranged from photography to mixed-media to what I guess could be described as sculpture (I quite enjoy contemporary art but I don’t consider myself educated on it).
And while the art was great, the real star of the show was the interior of the TA building. It’s my dream space: Huge and open with super-high ceilings and loads of exposed pipework and industrial charm. Everything was made out of concrete, brick or iron and there plenty of soaring concrete pillars that reminded me a lot of the ones in my old loft on Sorauren (I do miss the character and feel that that place had). Okay, it’s not everyone’s style but it’s definitely mine.
Besides looking great, the TA building is also ideal as an exhibit space for contemporary art (well, minus the whole not-having-running-water part). The high ceilings and large, flat walls are ideal for medium-to-large pieces while the various “nooks” (an elevator shaft, an old washroom, some kind of weird “slidewell”) worked perfectly for pieces that need a more intimate space.
I’m rather surprised that the TA building has never been incorporated into Nuit Blanche before. It would be ideal for one of the larger-scale exhibits and, combined with the vacant field across the street as well various other flexible-use, nearby buildings (like the one that hosts the indoor spots club), could create quite the hub. It’s obviously too late for Nuit Blanche 2013 but maybe next year’s edition could work this great slice of Toronto into its programming.
The Tower Automotive building is truly a great space, and I would love to see it get regular use as a venue. I know that there are a lot of issues with that but it’s just way too cool of a space to be boarded up.
(As for it becoming a condo, if the developer models its development off of what was done at Robert Watson Lofts, I’ll be happy).