Frank Lloyd Wright once noted that doctors were lucky. "The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines."
Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum couldn't exactly bury Daniel Libeskind's unloved "crystal" addition; it is still a bit too new for that. But they are planting vines, with the "Welcome Project" designed by Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA).
Hariri has filled the formerly barren plaza around the building with seating and planting, and made the awkward spaces around the building almost useful.
The soft Algonquin limestone of the terrace and the gently curved edges of the benches surrounding planting beds lush with trees and biodiverse gardens provide much needed public gathering and seating space in the heart of the city. The terrace, elevated off of Bloor street and nestled beneath the west side of the Crystal, provides a sheltered area for outdoor performances and connects to the greenery of Philosopher’s Walk.
Philosphers' Walk used to be a river, then a kind of park, then the University of Toronto kept encroaching on it with buildings to where it is now just a walkway with some trees and views of the backs of buildings. It is rather nice that Hariri is actually giving something back to it.
The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition to the ROM is an example of everything that was wrong with the Starchitecture era: buildings that had no sense of place, the same thing whether you were in Denver or Toronto. The ROM is now trying to undo much of the damage; they have moved the main entrance back to where it used to be, downgrading the mean little Libeskind entry. If the Museum follows its usual schedule of demolishing its mistakes, this building will be gone in 15 years.