Design Lines Article

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BUILDING BLOCKS:
ONE MAN'S INSANE QUEST TO PHOTOGRAPH EVERY BUILDING IN THE CITY

Find it, shoot it, catalogue it: that's Bob Krawczyk's mantra. Founder and sole contributor to the online database TOBuilt.ca, Krawczyk has photographed and archived over 8,000 built structures across the city. Skyscrapers, private homes, industrial buildings and bridges - all are fair game. Trained as an archivist, the 43-year-old started photographing highrises in his spare time and submitting them to Skyscrapers.com (now Emporis.com), a website that maintains a quick-search image bank of tall buildings worldwide. He quickly exhausted the list of 1,600 buildings in the GTA that were taller than 12 storeys, so he moved onto heritage properties and award winning structures. His partner, Yvon, bough him the TOBuilt.ca domain for his birthday, and Krawczyk launched his own website last August. The database, far more complex and yet easier to use than anything that currently exists, allows visitors to search for structures by building type, street address, year of construction, awards the building has received or by architect or firm. The thoroughness and straightforward navigational setup has made the site extremely popular among local architectural junkies. Krawczyk admits that the site initially grew more out of a fondness for archiving rather than a passion for architecture. "It's something I like to do at the end of the day. I come home, switch on my computer and start ordering the data and photos. It's very soothing. You can have really beautiful tall buildings and really shitty lowrises. Neighbourhood groups complain about height, but it has more to do with how a building meets the street." Traversing the city most weekends, usually on his bicycle, Krawczyk finds all the buildings he's looking for, with one notable exception. "I drove to Don Mills once, looking for the Weathering Steel House by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, that I'd seen in a magazine. I drove up and down eveyr street, but never found it." When he does eventually track the building down - and he says he will, one day = you'll know where to find it.

BY ANDREW BRAITHWAITE