Is change always a good thing?

Have you ever been upset or disturbed by a change made to an historical building or structure?  Do you ever get upset when a beautiful old piece of architecture is altered to give it a more modern look?  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love new, modern looking buildings.  They can make city skylines very striking.  However, I believe that the beauty of old, historical buildings should be preserved whenever possible, and that’s why I was very upset when they began major renovations to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto in 2002.

The original ROM opened to the public in 1914 and was designed in the Italianate Neo-Romanesque style.  In 1933 a new eastern wing facing Queen’s Park was added with a Byzantine-inspired rotunda and a new main entrance.   According to Wikipedia, “the Queen’s Park facade of the expansion broke from the heavy Italianate style of the original structure.  It was built in a neo-Byzantine style with rusticated stone, triple windows contained within recessed arches, and different-coloured stone arranged into a variety of patterns. This development from the Roman-inspired Italianate to a Byzantine influenced style reflected the historical development of Byzantine architecture from Roman architecture. Common among neo-Byzantine buildings in North America, the facade also contains elements of Gothic Revival in its relief carvings, gargoyles and statues. The ornate ceiling of the rotunda is covered predominantly in gold back-painted glass mosaic tiles, with coloured mosaic geometric patterns and images of real and mythical animals.”  Here are some pictures of the old main entrance, inside and out.  I wish I had taken one from across the street, so that you could see the building in its entirety, but at least these will give you an idea of how awe inspiring the original entrance was.

I loved visiting the ROM as a child and I still do.  One of my favourite memories of the ROM was always the incredible front entrance, and now that is closed off in favour of the new entrance through the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal,  which is clad in 25 percent glass and 75 percent aluminum sitting on top of a steel frame, I always find myself shaking my head in disgust that they actually consider this an improvement!  It makes me sad to see the yellow brick and decorative mouldings of the original 1914 building hidden behind a mass of glass and metal.  What do you think?

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This entry was posted in Anger and Frustrations, Architecture, Blogging, Colours, Curves, Lines & Shapes, Famous Landmarks, History, Memories, Museums/Science Centres, Photography, Toronto, Ontario, Urban Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Is change always a good thing?

  1. allthingsboys says:

    Some fantastic photos of great architecture! I like old things left old.

  2. a shame – no other words for it

  3. Dor says:

    Oh I agree. I agree! It’s an age old problem that the young find the old under-valued, and then make their own enormous mistaken “improvements,:” and in some cases, just knock the whole thing down. Someone will dig out the original Royal Ontario Museum’s beautiful entrance 100 years from now and say, “What were they thinking?” At least I hope so.

    • Me too! Every time I go there I always stand on the second floor looking down on the beauty of the original entryway and wonder how anyone in their right mind could think that it wasn’t good enough anymore. It is stunning, inside and out!!

  4. Northern Narratives says:

    That is terrible 😦

  5. Jeff Sinon says:

    It’s a pretty cool building on it’s own, but to just plop it down in front of such a wonderfully old, and beautifully decorated building, it’s an eye sore.

  6. Faye says:

    It just makes you want to cry. Both buildings have their own beauty , or I should say entrances. But how could they have covered up the first ? At least people like you let the rest of us see what we / the world has lost. Thank you

    • I agree that they are both beautiful in their own way, but I have to clarify something. They only covered up the one entrance with the crystal. The old entrance that I took photos of is around the corner, but it is not used any more which is a real shame. I always make sure that I visit the old entrance because it will always be my favourite :). Thanks for visiting!!

  7. zelmare says:

    Personally, I think this is just too sad… That is (was) one beautiful building, and now it’s been defaced as far as I’m concerned. Wow, love the photos! 🙂

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