It can be tricky to navigate the world of social media, especially when it comes to deciding which type of content to follow. Instagram can be used in so many different ways and you can follow people who showcase their work, love food, travel, and even educate. Keeping a variety of content in your feed will ensure you’re learning something new each day.
Anne Vranic, or @annevranic, is walking her followers through Toronto’s beautiful architecture one Instagram post at a time. From the Casa Loma Stables, to the Summerhill LCBO, Anne doesn’t just post the picture, in her description she also lets us know about the buildings architectural characteristics and its history. If you want to know more about Toronto’s lovely architecture, then lets get to know Anne a little bit more.
Meet Anne Vranic
Anne Vranic first started her architectural venture at the start of the pandemic. Although she didn’t study art history and architecture in school, she’s always had a love for art culture. Her pervious experience in television and the entertainment industry, combined with her love of art history, is what’s given her the tools to create these amazing IG posts.
Before the pandemic, she had her dream job working for the ROM. Anne said, “when the pandemic hit and the museums closed, I was so spoiled because I worked and practically lived inside of that museum. So it was a hard adjustment going from that to my 350 sq. Toronto condo and I realized it was becoming harder to find a creative spark.”
She set a goal for herself to go for a 1-hour walk each day in the city. Walking through Toronto feels different when you’re not on-the-go and for Anne, it gave her the chance to really be open and exposed to Toronto’s art culture.
“I was born and raised in Toronto and I look at my relationship with the city like a long-term one where you kind of start taking it for granted and the things other people find beautiful you no longer necessarily see. I would always point to other places like New York and Chicago for architecture and I was completely ignoring what was around me,” Anne said.
Anne’s hopes that these posts will educate the people of Toronto on the beauty surrounding them. She vouches to start looking around and taking in the different types of architectural styles that the city has. Anne says, “what excites me most about this is I’m selfishly discovering the city and the architecture styles I personally love but also getting people excited about these buildings and culturally inspiring them to look at these buildings through a different and new lens.”
Brutalism is a common architectural style in Toronto and Anne describes it as cold, imposing concrete buildings. There are no embellishments and they’re often the backdrop of dystopian/futuristic style films. Buildings like the University of Toronto’s Robart Library fall under the brutalist style.
Brutalism As A Humanistic Endeavor
“Initially when I’d walk by brutalist buildings in the city, I had that same response of, “Who would’ve designed this?” especially if you compare it to the more classical and romanesque buildings. But when I started digging into the history I found out that after the war a lot of governments were cash strapped and they needed to build spaces for people very quickly, since the populations were growing and the government didn’t have a lot of money. At the time, concrete was very efficient and inexpensive and so they built these buildings as quickly as possible for people to have a space to connect,” Anne said.
Anne says its important to talk about these buildings because they’re constantly being demolished to make way for modern, flashier buildings, and we need preserve the city’s art history. Yes modern buildings are also beautiful pieces of architecture, but Anne says, “whats old is always new again, and just look at Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, that’s all centred around Brutalism.”
Favourite Toronto Architecture
When I asked Anne to list her favourite architectural buildings in the city she stumbled at the thought of having to narrow it down. She appreciates all the different styles the city has to offer but these are her top 3 favourite Toronto buildings.
Old City Hall
Toronto’s old city hall falls under the romanesque style which, according to Anne, is something Toronto has done really well. This style of building can be distinguished by features like rusticated stone, wide arches, on a larger scale – a lot of government buildings – and unique carvings and intricacy.
E.J. Lennox was the architect who designed Old City Hall. Lennox was a very interesting architect, he also designed Casa Loma and created the Annex style of building. Among his talent, there’s also a long drama behind Old City Hall’s history.
“Legend goes that E.J. Lennox and the city council were at odds and there were lawsuits, acrimony and the construction ended up being a bit of disaster. At the end of the production E.J Lennox requested a plaque saying that he built the building. The city council disapproved and to take revenge he decided to build into the building a series of grotesque characters and all of them represented the faces of the councilman. The one face that can be distinguished was his face and it was kind of like an f you to the councilman,” Anne says.
The TD Centre was built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who’s known as the “grandfather” of the international style of architecture. This building falls under the modernist movement and it was extremely significant for the City of Toronto. It holds a simple architecture style with no ornamentation. When it was built during the late 1960s and it was the polar opposite of what the classical style bank buildings use to look like. The TD centre was the first skyscraper and, “it forever changed Toronto’s skyline because at that time the buildings were a lot lower and then you now had this imposing building that really put Toronto on the map for architecture,” Anne said.
The Summerhill LCBO is really what brought Anne along this architectural journey. Growing up in the Rosedale community, she would always pass by the building as a child. When she finally became of legal drinking age, she really took in its beauty.
“During the first week of the pandemic when everyone was rushing to get toilet paper and alcohol I remember waiting in line and I looked up. Honestly I had probably been to that LCBO a hundred times and never noticed there was a 140 foot clock tower at the top of the building. That clock tower is modelled after the Campanile di San Marco in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice and looking at them side by side you can defiantly see the resemblance,” Anne said.
The Summerhill LCBO really brings that European architecture to Toronto. It falls under the Beaux-Art architecture style, its more ornate, extremely symmetrical and when you look at a building like this you’ll current feel in awe. It was perviously the North Toronto train station.
Feature Image: Anne Vranic