Allen Lambert Galleria – “Crystal Cathedral of Commerce”

Allen Lambert Galleria
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The Allen Lambert Galleria, sometimes described as the “crystal cathedral of commerce”, is an atrium designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava which connects Bay Street with Sam Pollock Square. The six story high pedestrian thoroughfare is structured by eight freestanding supports on each side of the Galleria, which branch out into parabolic shapes evoking a forest canopy or a tree-lined avenue because of the presence of building facades along the sides of the structure.

The Galleria was the result of an international competition and was incorporated into the development in order to satisfy the City of Toronto’s public art requirements. It is a frequently photographed space, and is heavily featured as a backdrop for news reports, as well as TV and film productions.

The parabolic, arched roof that Santiago Calatrava created for the assembly hall of the Wohlen High School in Wohlen, Aargau, Switzerland, is generally considered to be a precursor of the vaulted, parabolic ceiling in the Galleria.

Santiago Calatrava Valls – the Architect

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951) is a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City.

Calatrava’s early career was largely dedicated to bridges and train stations, with designs that elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights. His Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona, Spain (1991) in the heart of the 1992 Olympics site, as well as the Allen Lambert Galleria in Toronto, Canada (1992), were important works and turning points in his career, leading to a wide range of commissions. The Quadracci Pavilion (2001) of the Milwaukee Art Museum was his first building in the United States. Calatrava’s entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden.

Calatrava has designed a futurisitc train station, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.

Calatrava’s style has been heralded as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. In the projects, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering that included Félix Candela, Antonio Gaudí, and Rafael Guastavino. Nonetheless, his style is also very personal, and derives from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world.

On 10 December 2011 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture for a five year renewable term by Pope Benedict XVI.

Allen Thomas Lambert

Allen Thomas Lambert, (1911 – October 25, 2002) was a Canadian banker and former Chairman of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. He was awarded the Order of Canada – a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is within the personal gift of Canada’s monarch.

Allen Lambert’s most visible achievement, and a source of great personal pride, was the construction of the Toronto Dominion Centre. He viewed it as a tangible statement of the Bank’s position in the forefront of industry. After rejecting a number of design proposals, Lambert turned to the great German/American architect Mies van der Rohe to develop a plan for a complex of buildings that would revolutionize the Toronto landscape. Now considered a Mies masterwork, the Centre is a lasting testament to Lambert’s vision and imagination. William Thorsell, CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum, wrote in a tribute to Allen Lambert: “For those who build, it is not a question of whether a legacy remains, but what its quality is. In Athens, in the Yucatan, in Paris, architecture still speaks eloquently centuries after so much else of value is gone. In 1967, a banker insisted that Toronto be remembered with respect.”


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