Here are some of my thoughts concerning the Lee-Chin Crystal opening this past weekend. It's not a slam at the building itself mind you, but a critique of the bizarre events that now seem inexplicably requisite for all new, multi-million dollar buildings.
Let's hope the AGO doesn't make the same, tasteless mistake.
ROM Without a View
Where else but an awkwardly planned gala event can you see befuddled Canadian celebrities forced to read cliché-ridden scripts with "Father Time" as their comedic sidekicks? That's exactly how the ROM officially opened its new Lee-Chin Crystal building this past Saturday as part of LuminaTO.
Those who were fortunate enough to at least get a decent view of the concert most likely stood in the 3-blocks long lineup for hours to get their tickets. One guesses the majority of their day was spent gawking at the same building that they could see the following week with an unfettered view. On Saturday, however, they were treated to a whacky laser-light show, a slap-dash lineup of musicians, and speeches by gentlemen whose income is in direct correlation to the momentous tone in which they speak.
There was also an abysmal problem with crowd control (Handsome Tip: Take notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival. They have places for moving and places for standing and gawking. Simple as that.). I’ve never seen so many unhappy locals and confused, bickering tourists who had missed their queue. Many were stuck in spots where they couldn’t even see the stage, yet desperately wanted to validate their trip to Bloor by staring at the sound guy’s back. Or the extensive hoists and scaffolding. Take your pick.
And although they were in the minority, some people seemed genuinely excited, but not for what the organizers had to offer. Before the festivities began, I saw a woman turn to a man who looked suspiciously like the building’s namesake and remark, “Wow, this must be so exciting for you Michael!” He politely explained to her that he was Lee-Chin’s brother. And whether I heard that correctly or not, it stood out mostly in preference of an effective illustration.
The evening also provoked, “ooos” and “aahs” from the spectators when the projections and lights hit the building’s exterior post speeches. Lighting up the crystal is fancy-pants and all, but the structure should be able to impress on its own merits, and at the most with simple, adequate illumination. Projecting strange alien landscapes in colours that evoke an Andrew Lloyd Webber-like experience undermines the workmanship.
One grand statement that stood out in my mind was that of a LuminaTO spokesperson who spake, “Great cities are built on great civic projects,” in his address to the crowd. That’s only true in part, but even so, this rather superficial undertaking held no scent of greatness.