There’s something exciting happening to Toronto condo design. You won’t notice the change on the skyline just yet, but after decades of glass box construction, the city is poised to embrace far more daring architecture.
There are a handful of projects in the works right now that are set to redefine the conventional condo tower in Toronto. The interventions are various — from super tall towers to vertical forests — but each shows a willingness to embrace bold designs rarely seen in the city today.
Of this brave new crop of buildings, Bjarke-Ingels’ ziggurat-style condo planned for King West has probably received the most hype. While it’s design has undergone some tweaks since it was first released, if anything, the valley and peak motif has actually become more clear.
Bjarke-Ingels King West development for Westbank and Allied REIT.
In addition to the sure-to-be iconic silhouette of these buildings, the design deserves credit for its incorporation of heritage storefronts on King St. and ample public space (i.e. the valley portion of the project). If there’s a lesson for the city here, it’s that sometimes you can have it all.
The Toronto Tree Tower from Penda and Tmber.
While the scale is smaller, an equally radical project that’s in its early stages is the Toronto Tree Tower from Penda Architects and Tmber. This 18 storey building would be built out of modulated cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is strong enough to sustain this height.
Based on the novel building materials, the units can be assembled off site and then stacked atop one another during the construction process, which is thus expedited. This would be Toronto’s second major wood tower, the other planned at George Brown’s waterfront campus.
3XN’s Waves at Bayside development for Tridel.
Copenhagen-based firm 3XN has made a figurative splash in Toronto’s condo scene with two planned towers that push the design envelope. Of these, its Waves project at Tridel’s Bayside community is the most eye-popping.
The idea of a wave-themed condo along the waterfront might sound hokey, but the multi-level design avoids the pitfall of building a huge private block in front of the waterfront and adds lots of visual interest from afar.
Church and Wellesley by 3XN for One Properties.
While not as immediately stunning at first glance, 3XN’s Church and Wellesley rental tower is also set to make an important contribution to Toronto, not the least of which because it features a huge public gathering area in the heart of the Village.
CetraRuddy’s 64 Prince Arthur Ave. for Adi Development Group.
Speaking of international firms making a foray in Toronto, CetraRuddy’s first project in the city at 64 Prince Arthur Ave. already looks like it’ll be a special addition to our condo stock. This sleek 29-storey tower has a helix-shape that’s as simple as it is elegant.
The One by Foster + Partners for Mizrahi Developments.
Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention the One as part of any review of exciting condo architecture coming to Toronto. Not only will the Foster + Partners tower be Toronto’s tallest open completion, it’s designed to be a true show piece rather than merely a steel and glass monster.
Night view of the One by Foster + Partners for Mizrahi Developments.
It’s likely to be surpassed fairly quickly by one of Pinnacle One Yonge or YSL Residences, but it’s external steel frame (almost like an exoskeleton) and glowing facade promises a more elegant addition to the skyline.
Have we finally arrived at a period when we can say that the future looks bright for Toronto condo design? That might be a bit ambitious, as there’s still plenty of anonymous structures going up all across the city, but the marquee projects have raised the bar, which is certainly a welcome trend.
Fingers crossed that Toronto’s array of new condos only get more and more daring. If we’re destined to be a city of such buildings, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to stick out.