New City Hall, designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, was the first modern, concrete, civic building in Toronto. When it opened in 1965, it stood out very prominently in the traditional Victorian fabric of the city.
The striking concrete design was carried throughout the building and was even incorporated into the office furniture. Desks, coffee tables, cabinets — they all had concrete legs — and nearly everyone hated it. A lot.
The public was angry. Controversy ensued. Someone even resigned.
Reporter Sean Cole met a few people, including architect Masha Kelmans, who think the naysayers were wrong.
A few examples of the original, concrete furniture are sequestered in the Urban Planning offices on the 19th floor of the Toronto City Hall, where it is (at least, partially) appreciated.
Masha Kelmans wrote about the concrete furniture controversy in the book “Concrete Toronto.”