God is in the details at the TD Centre

A landmark at King and Bay since opening in 1967, the Toronto-Dominion Centre is among Mies van der Rohe’s largest and most important works. Here, the architect’s typically spare Classical simplicity, precise detailing and exquisite materials are best exhibited in the low-rise banking pavilion. Its open-span interior, framed in black steel and wrapped in bronze-tinted glass, integrates floor slabs of St. John grey granite, partition walls of fine-grained English oak, bookmatched panels of green Tinos marble and Mies’ own furniture of leather, glass and steel. Owners Cadillac Fairview and TD Canada Trust have fastidiously maintained the complex through the years and faithfully honour Mies’ most minute design details, down to the yellow daisies in spherical glass vases that are filled exactly one-third with water and meticulously arranged on desktops and banking counters.

All of which makes this photo of the seating area in the pavilion’s northwest corner even more incongruous. You’ll note the misaligned (Mies-aligned?) steel base of his iconic Barcelona table – it’s at right angles to the tabletop rather than in a 45-degree X-pattern. Not only is the current arrangement incorrect and unaesthetic, it’s also unstable – if someone were to sit on one of the unsupported corners, the thick plate-glass top would likely tilt off the base and crash to the ground.

Mies would not be pleased.

The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Archive is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design: http://moma.org/explore/collection/architecture_design

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