Thesis Defence: Janet Li

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Facadist Toronto: Heritage at Face Value

Fifteen building facades


Facadism is the practice of retaining only the outward layer of a building, usually of heritage significance, while the interiors are demolished to make way for new construction. In Toronto, this has become standard practice, and the number of projects continues to escalate. This thesis questions what facadism attempts to preserve and the motivations behind the movement in two parts. Part one establishes a theoretical background for the phenomenon and argues that facadism is not conservation but instead a deliberate act of demolition as a result of development, perpetuated by modern ideals and policies. Heritage is habitually thought of as imagery rather than for its human contributions. Instead, this thesis argues the understanding of heritage needs to redefine itself to include its social significance, holding histories, a sense of spirit, character, and community. Part two investigates the City of Toronto through a catalogue of facadist projects and a collection of case studies. These stories will situate the phenomenon to the city, recognize nuances of the real world, provide evidence of this practice, and analyze the effects of these projects on the fabric of the city. This thesis aims to contribute to furthering the much-needed discussion and understanding of facadism. Facadism reveals our current approach to heritage and architecture fails to consider its cultural and community impacts, the characteristics that create vibrant human spaces.

The examining committee is as follows:
Supervisor: Eric Haldenby
Committee member: Val Rynnimeri
Internal-external reader: Sifei Mo
External: Robert Allsopp

The defence examination will take place:
Wednesday, March 29, 2023, 2:00 p.m.
This will be taking place in person in the Riverside Gallery at the School of Architecture.

The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.
A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.