Art and Mental-Health After the Lockdown: Interview with Dr. Melissa Meade

A chat with Dr. Melissa Meade

Understanding the adverse effects of two months of quarantine on our mental health is going to be a major topic of interest for psychologists and researchers in the coming months. As always, art experiences can provide a soothing balm in moments of crisis. While the performing arts have evolved new ways to connect with us and provide momentary respite from boredom, the contemplative bliss that is possible in the visual arts can rarely be simulated. That is why the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition is opening its doors to you this summer, while upholding the highest standards of social distancing by allocating 75 square feet per attendee.

As we’ve seen recently, the physical-health requirement of social distancing and the mental-health need to socialize can be a complicated balancing act. So to give the subject the necessary amount of nuance and cautious deliberation, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Melissa Meade, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychology. Dr. Meade joins us to discuss some of the psychological effects of quarantine, as well as potential DIY remedies. With a background in fine arts, Dr. Meade speaks on the therapeutic value of art experiences during periods of isolation and stress. One of the remedies she discusses is the innovative HippoCamera app, developed in her lab, that combats various psychological ailments from memory loss to stress management. While her commentary does not encourage breaking current social distancing measures, she offers insight on how various art experiences, like the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition, can uplift our spirits after this unprecedented period of isolation.

There hasn’t been a period of collective isolation quite like this in a very long time. What would you say are some of the adverse effects that we should expect as social activity slowly resumes again? 

MM: It’s really important to recognize how difficult and stressful it has been to respond to the major changes in daily life brought about by the pandemic. A number of researchers are concerned about increased stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and the need for interventions to reduce the impact of these adverse effects of the lockdown (Holmes et al., The Lancet Psych, 2020). Specifically, we know that aspects of the lockdown such as social isolation (Read et al., 2020, J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci), increased boredom, and disrupted perception of time (‘blursday’), among others, have negative impacts on well-being and mental health.

However, there are things that we can do to enhance and maintain well-being moving forward as we continue to gradually transition out of lockdown. Our lab is currently conducting a study to examine the efficacy of an intervention to help improve well-being during periods of isolation, such as we are all experiencing now. We are testing an intervention that makes use of a smartphone application we have developed called the HippoCamera.

Aside from the necessary precautions related to physical health, what are some of the things people can do for their mental health during the transition out of lockdown?

MM: It’s really important to recognize how difficult and stressful it has been to respond to the major changes in daily life brought about by the pandemic. A number of researchers are concerned about increased stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and the need for interventions to reduce the impact of these adverse effects of the lockdown (Holmes et al., The Lancet Psych, 2020). Specifically, we know that aspects of the lockdown such as social isolation (Read et al., 2020, J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci), increased boredom, and disrupted perception of time (‘blursday’), among others, have negative impacts on well-being and mental health.

However, there are things that we can do to enhance and maintain well-being moving forward as we continue to gradually transition out of lockdown. Our lab is currently conducting a study to examine the efficacy of an intervention to help improve well-being during periods of isolation, such as we are all experiencing now. We are testing an intervention that makes use of a smartphone application we have developed called the HippoCamera.

This app mimics the function of the brain’s hippocampus to stabilize and retrieve memories, as well as encourage individuals to be cognitively and physically active. The app works by having users create video memory cues for daily events that are then replayed in a manner known to optimize learning and long-term retention. Research so far demonstrates that the HippoCamera improves memory and enhances brain activity when recalling events we have experienced. We’re now examining how Hippocamera use during the lockdown can provide immediate benefits to memory, mood, boredom, and reduce the feeling of the days all blurring together, as well as provide longer-term health benefits from reducing stress.

Part of the intervention involves having users try to engage in one unique activity each day that they record with the HippoCamera. Some of our suggested activities involve things like learning a new craft (such as knitting), going on a picnic, or trying out a new exercise like yoga. The expectation is that our intervention will enhance emotional well-being for those in lockdown by encouraging people to try out new, enjoyable activities. Additionally, we expect that enhancing memory for these unique events will reduce the uncomfortable disorientation of time we are all experiencing due to the monotony of our days in isolation. Ultimately, our goal is to validate and share an intervention that can provide widespread health and wellness benefits to many people living in isolation for the foreseeable future, as well as help those who typically live in relative isolation due to health or mobility issues.

What therapeutic value can the arts provide at this moment of uncertainty for the general public?

MM: The arts provide a fantastic opportunity to enhance well-being at the moment. Doing something like visiting and appreciating a work of art allows one to engage in a unique event that distracts from the current stress and monotony of our lives. It’s really important to find ways to try to step outside of the stressful and anxious state many of us are in, given that chronic stress can adversely effect both mental and physical health. Additionally, unlike many other recreational activities, many forms of art can be enjoyed while adhering to safety regulations and guidelines.

Art also has the advantage of encouraging new ways of thinking and perceiving the world, as well as stirring an emotional response. The unique experiences that result from engaging with art are so important during this time. In fact this is the exact type of activity we are examining in our Hippocamera intervention; something novel that forces you out of your typical routine. We expect that incorporating activities that are unique, fun, and novel into our daily lives will provide huge benefits for our overall well-being. The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition sounds like a fantastic opportunity for people to leave their current state of stress and enter a different, beautiful world, even if it is only for a short period of time.


Interview with Composer Luca Longobardi

Luca Longobardi

Alongside the launch of the playlist he curated for Spotify, Italian composer Luca Longobardi joins us to discuss his latest project: the soundtrack for the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. Coming off their highly acclaimed Atelier de Lumières exhibition in Paris, Longobardi once again partners with Artistic Director Massimiliano Siccardi to create an imaginative soundtrack for a fully immersive experience. In the interview below, he invites us to lean into the power of art and beauty to ignite our imagination as we all search for a new normal in a post-pandemic world. From his weekly live-streamed concerts to writing new music, the composer discusses the many ways he’s been keeping busy, as well as his sources of inspiration for a soundtrack which he calls his ‘most honest and true work’.

How did you become involved in this exhibition? 

LL: What binds me to Artistic Director Massimiliano Siccardi, in addition to a long-standing friendship, is an elective affinity that has always allowed us to work creatively in a very fast and direct way. From the contemporary ballets which he curated to the performance installations that saw us together on stage, there has always been a very pragmatic approach based on a shared method, creative genesis and philosophical vision of art. I have been involved in fifteen other immersive shows with him, but I think this Van Gogh, this Vincent of ours, is perhaps the most honest and true work done so far.

Your works are known to have a strong integration of classical and contemporary music, who are some of your favourite composers in both genres? 

LL: Beethoven is my first choice. During my study in New York I took a monographic course for a semester and had the opportunity to analyze almost his complete works and also read a lot about his life and his approach to music. His concepts of musical writing, of ‘thinking by parameters’, of cohesion and timbre division have been a real epiphany and have strongly influenced my approach to composition over time.

In the contemporary scene, my choice is Arvo Pärt, for his minimalism and expressive purity. In the electronic scene, I really appreciate Alessandro Cortini and Murcof: both of them manage the concept of noise and silence in such a way that they become structural in the compositional process.

Do you have a favourite Van Gogh painting? 

LL: I do! Bedroom in Arles is one of my favourites. The intimacy of the place represented on canvas is a very powerful sign of total openness towards the world. It is a sort of invitation to find out about his fragility.

The second one is Cafe Terrace at Night. I particularly love the underlying symbolism that reflects the personal, almost therapeutic role that Van Gogh’s painting had come to represent to him. In this particular moment, I can relate to this connotation of art more than ever.

What are some of the main elements of the soundtrack that you’d like attendees to focus on?

LL: Immersive art is a very complex concept, it is not just a technical way to represent A/V in huge spaces. The word immersive indicates a deep commitment of intentions which connect images and sounds in a way that the audience is able to experience a different perception of the art.

The music does not ‘overpower’ the images but, on the contrary, allows a diverse approach to them, one that is more personal and intimate. Music like soundscapes or even very famous tracks like Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, je ne Regrette Rien’ recall that involuntary memory (to use Marcel Proust’s concept) that allows people to generate new and specific attachments to the experience, a new madeleine moment. 

What are the main instruments you’ve chosen for the soundtrack, and how do you feel they resonate with the visual experience?

LL: The soundtrack of this work of art develops by following two main narrative concepts: the human and emotional condition of the artist and his way of expressing his sensitivity through creative action.

The clear image of Van Gogh is one of often looking for understanding in other artists, though he ends up finding solitude as his only possible condition — both in a positive and negative sense — and that is the constant that connects the two concepts. Be it the introspection he often abandons himself to or isolation in nature in order to paint it in all its power, Van Gogh is alone in his uniqueness and psychic brittleness. He’s alone with his way of thinking ahead of his time.

Only while creating, while painting can one become many, through the repetition of the strokes, the thickness of the matter on the canvas, the use of colors. This process of the multiplicity of inputs is represented in the music for this exhibition by the combination of solo pieces and pieces for ensemble. There are combinations of choir and solo voice, piano and synths, strings and symphonic orchestra. And as the instruments merge in order to create richer and more complex timbres, a new meaning insinuates and holds his timeless art still.

The classic is given new nourishment, written anew, again and again, styled inside our production, it is something alive and contemporary. All this, together with a sophisticated selection of pop songs that could be played on the radio even today, puts in our minds the seed of intimacy, moving us all, in spite of cultural or age differences, towards a wider sense of belonging.

What’s been your experience of this lockdown? 

LL: Well there are ups and downs. My main concern is the health of people I love, especially my parents who live in the South of Italy in a little town that has been declared a red zone almost since the beginning of the quarantine. It was hard to see and face what was happening in cities like Bergamo or Milano, thinking about all the sorrow people were going through.

But I’ve believed,  since day one, that playing for people is a good way to stay connected with reality. So I started live-streaming sessions from my home studio to be in touch with my family, my friends, my fans and even with myself. It became a daily rendezvous that’s  helped me a lot. At the same time, I started to receive invitations for online festivals and Q&A sessions, and that was a sign for me that people needed to be entertained, to be involved in the power of music, to stay in touch with artists they appreciate and love.

I’ve also written a lot of new music and have enjoyed a chance to dedicate myself to music in a way that was not possible before. It was not only a matter of time but also a matter of feeling. Even though all my live concerts, performing acts, workshops and visual exhibits have been postponed, there is one thing that stands clear in my mind: once this is over, we will all need art and beauty to recover from this exceptionally strange time.


Persevering Despite the Lockdown: Interview with Founder of Starvox Entertainment

Interview with Founder of Starvox Entertainment

Just over a year ago, a groundbreaking partnership between Starvox Entertainment (founded by Corey Ross) and Show One Productions (founded by Svetlana Dvoretsky) created Lighthouse Immersive to bring you the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. The world has changed significantly since Corey and Svetlana combined their efforts to create a permanent arts space in downtown Toronto, but Lighthouse Immersive perseveres as one of the only exhibits in Canada working on opening its doors this summer (while meeting social distancing standards). As we get closer to the opening of the Drive-In experience on June 18th, Ross takes a moment to reflect on how the partnership came about, and share some candid thoughts on how the performing arts industry can be better positioned for the rest of the lockdown.

How did the partnership between Show One  Productions and Starvox Entertainments come about?

CR: The partnership with Show One Productions began about 15 years ago. A gentleman who was running the Toronto Arts Centre at the time introduced us. Svetlana was starting to do shows there and I had done a number of shows there as well, so that is how we originally met. Over the years we became close friends, occasionally we’d do a show together. Svetlana is a high-end producer, she does opera, classical music, and ballet; the type of work I was doing was in the more popular, pop-concerts, musical theatre side of things. So my line has been that whenever Svetlana could condescend to do something a bit more low-brow we’d do something together! The highlight was the John Malkovich show that we did about seven years ago. When she saw that we did so well with Banksy and heard about this Van Gogh Exhibit, she called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in partnering, and that was the seed of it.

What are some of the unique challenges that you anticipate this exhibit will face in the coming months?

CR: The first challenge is how do you create? Does your venue or museum — or however you display your art — lend itself to social distancing? What does that do to the capacity or space and is it financially viable? What impact has Covid had on most of the traditional exhibitors of art in Canada and internationally? How are non-for-profit organizations that depend on charitable giving going to cope in a market that has been hurt financially? Will investors be in a position to give as much as they have before?

Another challenge that they face is a Human Resources challenge: most of these organizations have had to lay off their people because they can’t afford to pay them right now while they’re closed. So will those people be interested in coming back and how quickly can they restart? The final challenge is that, from a ticket-sales perspective, the industry is pretty dependent on tourism. So if tourism isn’t what it was, then that is going to be a challenge. From an artistic perspective, the challenge really is for curators to get out and see art, which of course involves international travel, and artists need to get here and create things, so it depends on what the art is and how easy it is to travel.

How is Lighthouse Immersive poised to take on these challenges?

CR: We’re at a pretty lucky position because we’re just a totally different type of concept in terms of how our art is exhibited. First of all, we’re in a huge venue —a 45,000 sq ft venue— there’s a lot of space for social distancing. We’re going to have financial challenges because our capacity is going to become lower as we accommodate social distancing. But we can extend the hours, as long as there are wage subsidies it becomes possible for us to extend the hours.

The way that you see the art, through giant projections on walls, also allows for social distancing. We can have lots of people socially distant enjoying this piece of art. Whereas if it was a 3 ft by 3 ft painting on the wall, only so many people can experience that at once while social distancing. Furthermore, we’re in a really unique position because there is a ramp at the door of our building and space for cars to drive in safely. So it’s allowed us to do this crazy idea of a drive-in show.

What are some of the good things that you’ve seen arts organizations doing during this time? 

CR: Most arts organizations have laid off or reduced the salary of their arts workers, so we’re really happy that we haven’t had to do that, and that’s because we’re able to continue to present what we’re doing. I was recently on a committee of producers —my main business is theatre— so on the theatre side, there are discussions on what we can do to facilitate the recovery of the industry. People might not know but in the film and television business, when a producer hires an actor or technician to do a television show, there are tax credits to facilitate attracting productions to Canada and the production of Canadian content. In the theatre world, non-for-profit organizations like the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival receive grants but commercial theatre producers don’t receive tax credits similar to what commercial film and television producers have.

So David Mirvish and I are trying to engage the government in that discussion, and if we’re successful in that then I think the commercial theatre world in Toronto will be completely transformed. And we have a shot at coming out of Covid and becoming a worldwide center for production of shows. So I’m very excited about  that. It’s something that I thought for years should have been discussed. I don’t understand what the difference is, the same actors and technicians that are hired to do a film would receive tax-credits that they are not receiving when they’re doing theatre, even though theatre, from an economic development perspective, helps restaurants and everything around the theatre. So that’s something that I think is very cool and positive that could come out of this.

What other ways can the local/Ontario government better assist production companies in Toronto during this difficult time? 

CR: There’s been zero talk because really we’re the only organization that’s opening its doors right now. There’s no talk about coming up with the measures that would make it safer to open our doors to the public, other than a vaccine. For instance, we have decided to do social distancing at the time when we do a walk-in version of our show — but we’re looking at other measures, including sensors that determine whether people are symptomatic when they come to the door. We’re also looking at how to sanitize the venue between shows, those measures are quite expensive and there’s been no funding allocated to that. There’s no one really available to ask. If I see a method of sanitation that they’re using in Israel or China or hospitals around the world, it’s not my area of expertise to decide which one is better and there is no one that the government is supplying as the person to ask what is appropriate and determine what is functional and what isn’t.

What excites you the most about presenting the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition in this difficult time?

CR: First of all, the initial excitement to me was the intersection of technology and art. When I saw the show that Massimiliano Siccardi created in Paris, I really felt that I was seeing something completely new. A completely new way of looking at art, and a completely new way of looking at film. I just think that there are so many future possibilities with this type of immersive experience. It could be that the next Mission Impossible, instead of being just projected in front of you on a screen at a Cineplex theatre — an experience that you can now duplicate at home — you could enter a more experiential room where the narrative is being told in 360 degrees around you and you’re moving through physically. So it was an interesting opportunity for me to hook up with this creative team and be one of the first to bring it to North America and to be at the forefront of what I think is going to be a long-term exciting opportunity.

In terms of how Covid’s changed things, it’s kind of almost a torch bearing moment to be the last company carrying the last fire of culture and relighting it for the people of Toronto and Canada, and trying to find a place to do that. Again we were just really fortunate that we chose the kind of show where you could do that and the kind of venue where you could do that. I think 50% of it is luck and 50% of it is being to think innovatively and pivot to the times, and we were already doing something that was innovative in terms of a new type of art show. So we’re pushing the pocket of innovation by introducing cars into it, but it’s in the spirit of what the show was to begin with.

Looking further into the future, what are some exciting projects/ideas that you’d like to explore post-pandemic?

CR: On the arts side, I’m certainly interested in seeing how we can begin to bring and create new shows around other artists. We’re looking at other options already, whether it’s a more contemporary artist like Banksy in the same venue, or another historical artist altogether. But I’m also just interested, as I said, in the connection between filmmaking and the Immersive concept. The Lighthouse venue will be completely fitted out to do that. We don’t know what will happen with the Toronto International Film Festival, but I was looking forward to getting the filmmakers who would be coming into town for that to see what we’ve created for Van Gogh. I was hoping we’d be having really fruitful and creative discussions with filmmakers from all around the world that we could display the technology in Van Gogh for. What would, for example, Steven Spielberg be able to do with an Immersive concept? How could you repurpose the Hitchcock films with an Immersive concept? So it may be a real disappointment, or maybe TIFF still happens in some type of socially distanced form, only time will tell. There’s so much possibility around this, and it’s so different and fresh and we’re just so excited about it.


Persevering Despite the Lockdown: Interview with Founder of Show One Productions

Interview with Founder of Show One Productions

Just over a year ago, a groundbreaking partnership between Show One Productions (founded by Svetlana Dvoretsky) and Starvox Entertainment (founded by Corey Ross) created Lighthouse Immersive to bring you the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. The world has changed significantly since Svetlana and Corey combined their efforts to create a permanent arts space in downtown Toronto, but Lighthouse Immersive perseveres as one of the only exhibits in Canada working on opening its doors this summer while meeting social distancing standards. As we get closer to the opening of the Drive-In experience, Svetlana takes a movement to reflect on how the partnership came about, and share some candid thoughts on how the performing arts industry can be better positioned for the rest of the lockdown.

How did the partnership between Show One  Productions and Starvox Entertainments come about?

SD: We’ve known each other for almost 15 years, and have been in close communication throughout: sharing ideas, updating each other on projects, going to each other’s opening nights, producing some shows together and so on. When I saw this exhibit in Paris, I thought it would be a really good idea to bring something like this to Toronto, especially because we have a lack of museum-type space. I was very excited when I shared the idea with Corey and I’m very glad that he got excited as well. Here we are, it’s been a tough road but we’ve been working really hard on this for almost a year and getting very close to opening our doors.

What are some of the unique challenges that you anticipate this exhibit will face in the coming months?

SD: The fact is that this is not the way we originally envisioned opening this exhibit. It was never meant to be observed from a car, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So we are going to be experimenting, together with our audiences, on how this is going to work. I anticipate that it will be a challenge, and of course with everything else that comes with the social distancing restrictions, it’s something new that we will have to learn how to live with. Hopefully not for a long time.

What are some of the good things that you’ve seen some arts organizations doing during this time? And how is Lighthouse Immersive emulating them? 

SD: The whole Performing Arts industry is in a really tough position right now because nobody is able to open their doors. And when it becomes possible to open the doors again, there will be very little options (financially speaking) that will allow an audience of 300 people to watch a performance in a venue that usually seats 3000 people.

Everyone is moving into digital broadcasting and trying it out.

We are slightly in a more fortunate position that we found a way to be operational at this time. While I applaud all of our colleagues in the industry who are moving all of their content into the digital format right now, I’m sure that the moment it’s possible, everybody will go back to the LIVE experiences because that’s where the real energy is.

What do you think are some of the ways the local/Ontario government could better assist production companies in Toronto during this difficult time?

SD: Probably close to 98% of the organizations that work in the arts sector are non-for-profit or charitable organizations. They receive help from the local and provincial governments. However, there are still a number of companies, including ours, that are not under the umbrella of the organizations that receive funding from the government. So we never relied on the government’s support, never really asked for anything. But right now I think we are all in the same vulnerable position as everyone else.

We’ve always had to survive being a commercial enterprise without relying on grants or government assistance. However, we are pivoting away from that right now, trying our best to remind the government that we exist, we provide employment, we pay taxes and so forth. There should be some government support at least for the expenses that we could not have accounted for, like the personal protective equipment we have to provide at our venues that was never in the budget. Whether it’s from the provincial or local or federal government, companies like ours should be getting assistance right now.

What excites you the most about presenting the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition during this difficult time?

SD: When I saw it for the first time I was very impressed artistically and thought that our city deserved to have something like this. There aren’t a lot of places where people can go that are specifically related to the arts, and is not a restaurant or club or something of the like. The difference between this project and other projects that I’ve done in the past is that regardless of the level of the artists that we’ve presented, the span of the performances has always been between one night and a week. With this project, we are planning for it to be a permanent place for people to come. We are also planning to expand the current exhibition, all of which would have been in place by now, but of course we were interrupted by the current situation. However, I strongly believe that our plans will come to fruition. What actually excites me the most in this particular venture is that we are building a place. This is not just about Van Gogh Immersive, this is a place where people can come and have a fantastic time and be able to return to again and again.

What can we learn about the value of art at a moment of crisis like this? 

SD: People turn to art not just for pleasure but for comfort and the current crisis proves that. I really hope that the problem of the government cutting funding for the arts will be revisited once and for all after this pandemic. For me personally, coming from St. Petersburg, Russia where approximately 80% of the arts are funded by the government, for better or worse, it’s something that allows for much more creative processes and new ideas to be born. Which is quite difficult if you have to struggle for every dollar. We have to make sure that the arts are accessible, and for that we do need help.

Looking further into the future, what are some exciting projects/ideas that you’d like to explore post-pandemic? 

SD: I’d love to have a big huge party when this is over!

Speaking of parties, our space allows for absolutely unique experiences. Not just exhibits, but also lectures, movie screenings, perhaps TIFF could screen some of their films by projecting them on four walls for a truly unique experience. This is definitely something that we’d like to see in our venue, we’d love to welcome other interesting and cutting-edge arts exhibits as well, because we do have a fantastic space for it. Perhaps we could have an interesting pop-up restaurant space and invite different celebrity chefs on occasion. These are some of the ideas I’d love to explore as soon as we get through this moment in our lives.


ONE YONGE STREET: A CONVERSATION

Lighthouse Immersive

One Yonge Street: A Conversation

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit has been very lucky to be able to continue welcoming guests during the COVID-19 crisis, while adhering to the necessary social distancing measures. One of the reasons it’s been able to do that is thanks to the building housing the exhibit, the historical Toronto Star building at One Yonge Street. The building provides a great space to immerse visitors in the visual and sonic experience of the exhibit, as well as more than enough space to keep them safe at the same time. So we reached out to Pinnacle International, the company that owns One Yonge Street, and in an interview with Anson Kwok (their VP of sales), talked about what makes the space unique, how the relationship with the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit came to be, and the company’s future plans for the building. Don’t miss your chance to experience this unique exhibition space, there are still a few tickets left to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in July, and more dates available in August and September (click here to purchase your tickets).

How did Pinnacle International become involved with One Yonge Street?

Anson Kwok — We took over this building in July 2012, and it’s an interesting building because some people consider it historic and some people don’t. But the actual building was built in the 1970’s, so for most people it’s actually not a heritage building in that sense. But the uniqueness of the print-press area can’t be found anywhere else, it’s a hidden gem — we didn’t really know about it until we bought the building. We’ve been working in this area for a while now — we built the four buildings across the street — and have owned the land here since 2003, so it’s interesting that we didn’t even know what was in there.

We always knew it was a unique space, had lots of private special events there like weddings and different corporate events. We needed someone that had a vision to make use of an amazing and unique space in such a great location. It has the aesthetic of a warehouse space in downtown Toronto that’s pretty unheard of. It really was for us a great partnership between Lighthouse Immersive and Pinnacle International to have this exhibit, the location is so convenient that I think people don’t typically expect such a big space.

What does the future look like for this historic building?

We have a pretty extensive development plan, we’ve owned the land since 2012, so we’ve actually been working on the redevelopment of this entire site — including the parking lot to the north. We’re under construction right now for our 65-storey building and we’re just about to break ground for our 95-storey building (which is the tallest building in Canada), and then we have a third 80-storey building on the north side.

Where you see the exhibit now will eventually be taken down, along with the podium of the Toronto Star building. Then we’ll start redeveloping new office space, we have about 1.5 million square-feet of office and hotel space slated for where the exhibit lands are located. We’ll keep the main part of the building and then kind of modernize the exterior. It’s a pretty extensive community, in this location, so we’re going to end up with about 2500 residential units, there’s a 50,000 square-feet community centre that we’re building right now with a six-lane pool and a gymnasium as well. We have a hotel in the 95-storey building, and we have a second hotel coming in the office block as well. That’s all in one community.