It's just a 1st draft: Frank Gehry tells critics of design for Toronto landmark

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TORONTO - Famed Canadian architect Frank Gehry has heard some of the unfavourable first-impression reviews of the proposed condo and mixed-use development he's designed for downtown Toronto.

But don't worry, he says, it's just a first draft.

Not that he feels the need to defend the already-controversial design, which features three individually-designed condos towering at around 80 storeys each.

The development's base is also enveloped by large swirling architectural features, which some bloggers have uncharitably described as resembling strands of crinkled toilet paper.

The plans being pursued by theatre mogul David Mirvish would become a new landmark in the city's entertainment district on King Street, and would include the razing of the Princess of Wales Theatre, which has staged productions of "Miss Saigon" and is currently showing "War Horse."

It would also be home to a new museum and facilities for OCAD University.

Gehry says criticism of his trademark outlandish style is just part of the job, which he's well used to by now.

He recalls his design for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles being described as "broken crockery."

"It's easy to malign something like that as 'garbage,'" says Gehry, who attended a news conference in Toronto on Monday to unveil the first designs for the project.

"In Bilbao, Spain they wanted to shoot me when they saw the (Guggenheim Museum design) and now they get $500 million a year in revenue to the city.

"I don't know how to overcome (critics), it's just part of the thing."

He says the designs showcased so far are likely to change somewhat but will retain some of the concept.

"It's not a final design, if you look at my work I do about 50 models. So it'll evolve but it'll have this character."

Organizations: Wales Theatre, OCAD University, Guggenheim Museum

Geographic location: Toronto, King Street, Los Angeles Bilbao Spain

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