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Celebrate modernist architecture – in T-shirt form

Spacing’s modernist T-shirt pays homage to the former Bata Shoes offices.

Modernist architecture in Toronto doesn't get nearly enough of the praise or thoughtful consideration it deserves.

Sure, there's plenty of gushing over Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Toronto-Dominion Centre, but there is hardly much of a cheering section for the former head offices of Bata Shoes designed by John B. Parkin and built in 1965. Maybe that's why we demolished it in 2007.

But that hasn't stopped Spacing magazine from bringing the building back to life so that closet modernists can show their pride, and perhaps spark a critical reappraisal.

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The magazine, which will be arguing for modernism's virtues in an upcoming issue, has launched a new line of modernist architecture T-shirts, the first of which features the former Bata Shoes offices.

"It's just such a perfect, wonderful example of modernism," says Spacing publisher and editor Matthew Blackett of the concrete-and-glass structure.

Other T-shirts and buttons in the series will feature the former Shell Oil Tower that used to stand on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, Lord Lansdowne Public School, which still exists, and the Uno Prii-designed Jane-Exbury Towers apartment buildings, among others.

The goal of the series is to help people rethink the city's modernist heritage and give people who need no convincing an outlet to display their fandom, Blackett says.

"It defines so much of our city. We have to learn to like it, you know, stop hating it and learn to actually appreciate it."

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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