In his fun and wonderfully probing book, Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto (2010), Shawn Micallef describes the University of Toronto’s Grad House as “the architectural equivalent of a loud and bold grad student elbowing his or her way into a conversation” (2010: 160).
Ah, grad students! I remember them. I was a one of them. For a spell.
Loud? YES. Bold? YES. Pushy, even, demanding, even, infused with the kind of brazen that only that odd mix of inexperience and entitlement can create?
Not all. But enough. Too many? Well. So many elbowed conversations!
“Look at me! Look at me! I’m relevant!
And if relevance is presence, some standard of admission – of being counted for something – then, yes. Yes, U of T Grad House, you are relevant.
You have something to say – at least while you’re filling the space of your place.
Yet, even the most insufferable grad student has at least ONE redeeming quality.
Rich, clueless parents. A car. An insecurity rooted in contrived ability and manifested in an overwhelming (if ultimately self-nullifying) desire to please.
For the U of T Grad House, it is that Big Magnificent O that helps with the redeeming.
Look at that O!
***~~~The Bing! The Cherry! The Silver Lining!~~~***
Granted, the Grad House has all the aesthetic grandeur and visual delight of one radiator fused onto yet another, kind of different radiator. Granted, grad students are the biological equivalent of barnacles, forced to eke out a space for their own miserable existence on the underbelly of the university.
But, damn! If the O almost makes it all worth it.
Micallef, Shawn. (2010). Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto. Coach House Books.