Tower Automotive Building (MOCA), Toronto

Tower Automotive Building (MOCA), Toronto - student project

For my project, I decided to create a post of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto. I imagine this being part of a series of prints the museum could sell in their gift shop. I'll break down my process below.



The Tower Automotive was built in 1919—at the time it was the tallest building in the city. For a while it was a sheet metal factory that would have produced everything from bottle caps to artillery. It lay abandoned for a while before being occupied by the museum and an advertising agency last year.

I recently had the chance to visit the very top floors, which is only possible during special events. From there, you really get the feel of how vast, industrial and brutalist this building is, and the way it shapes light. I wanted those qualities to be present in my image, even though I was capturing the outside.

My studio is on the fourth floor of this building, so I see it almost every day. It's one of the only tall buildings in the neighbourhood and has a sort of ominous presence as you approach it. I wanted to capture the feel of biking into work at sunrise or sunset.



I had a few ideas and was originally torn between showing the main entrance side of the building or the rear entrance, which is how I get in most days. I also wasn't sure whether or not to show all ten floors. In my second round of sketching, I arrived at bolder, more graphic treatments that focused on a particular part of the building.



Sometimes I need to go in the "wrong" direction, just to get it out of my system and confirm it's not going to work. That was the case here. Whereas I usually like to do much more impressionistic takes on landmarks, I tried to go for detail and accuracy. I really didn't like this approach, it felt clumsy and was lacking any real focal point or narrative. back to the drawing board!



I decided to really focus on the warmth of a low sun hitting the face of the building, as well as a couple of features—the skylight and the smokestack. The windows were proving distracting, so I just got rid of them, which let me play up the vertical elements.



I ended up doing the other idea with the glass doors and printing both as postcards.