Why are Condo Podiums Bad?

Discussion in 'Buildings, Architecture & Urban Design' started by hawc, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. hawc

    hawc Senior Member

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    I'm very new to this site and I find it fascinating how much everyone on here knows about all the new developments.

    One of the consistent opinions I've noticed is that the members on her don't like condo podiums.

    I was never really aware of podiums before, I have to be honest, until I started reading threads on here and I'm curious what they're 'bad'?

    Is it simply because from an architectural design standpoint they're not as clean to the actual building's look?

    Why does the city like them so much? Is it to give a consistent streetscape? And if so why is that a bad thing?

    Anyway, I'm not arguing for or against, I really have no formed opinion on the matter, just curious what the reasoning is and what poeple think?
     
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  2. fanoftoronto

    fanoftoronto Active Member

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    Podiums will work well only if it maintains or improves streetlife. This means having good retail space and maybe even sidewalk space for outdoor seating.
    Unfortunately many new condos do not have such facilities since they have grand openings and lobbies for the condo dwellers which takes away from the retail space. It's podiums such as these that we don't like.
    One developer that comes to mind for such podiums is Concord. CityPlace is a great addition to the city but has no retail space and hence no streetlife.
    Again, there are developers such as Great Gulf that buck this trend and build good podiums (imo).
    Hope this helps and if anyone can improve my rant please do so.
     
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  3. grey

    grey Senior Member

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    It's a Jane Jacobs "eyes on the street" thing that has become urban policy in cities like Vancouver and Toronto (and others). Podium towers are a means of densifying downtown residential while maintaining a pedestrian friendly streetscape. They're functional in that they deflect wind off the streets, which helps prevent or reduce wind tunnel effects caused by towers (also geared to improving the pedestrian experience). They're also a handy way to include mixed-use components in a development, which has environmental and lifestyle benefits.

    I think the frustration you're seeing from this forum regarding podiums is not specifically directed at the inclusion of podiums (besides complaints that they're becoming monotonous -- there's a podium on nearly every tall project these days), but the lack of design effort that goes into them. In general, podiums should integrate buildings into the street with a scale that avoids or softens the obliteration of any kind of height standard that exists. They should be built as a continuation of the streetscape, whether it's townhouses or retail, because a tower with a big parking garage entrance is a good way to kill the vibrancy of any street (mixed-use development is another factor in creating and maintaining vibrant streetscapes).

    A major problem is that less thoughtful developers and architects have failed enormously at creating retail spaces suitable for shops other than dry cleaners and subway sandwich shops, which fuels complaints that podiums are monotonous and unwelcome -- in addition to being an eyesore, they don't contribute in any meaningful way to the street.

    It's also really disappointing when a point tower is paired with a wimpy one or two storey podium, especially when everything downtown tends to be around four stories or higher. Podiums are often an afterthought; a quick and easy way to fill a requirement, and so they fail to achieve many of their benefits. The best developers and architects use podiums to their advantage by creating a better variety of units and integrating them into their projects in unique and imaginative ways. Cool shapes are worth more points.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
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  4. Hipster Duck

    Hipster Duck Senior Member

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    Things are definitely getting better on the podium front in Toronto. I think podiums hit their nadir between 1989 and 2002 on Queens Quay when they were mandated to feature low-ceilinged colonnades.
     
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  5. DTowner

    DTowner Active Member

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    All above points are spot on. Personally, I think it should be made law (yes, law!) that you cannot building a condo within a certain radius of downtown Toronto (or in the entire former City of Toronto) without retail, business, etc, at its podium. I don't care if the foyer is grand and has multi-coloured lights and swank leather sofas and chairs that NO ONE will use. I especially hate those that make it almost impossible for you to FIND the elevators.
     
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  6. DTowner

    DTowner Active Member

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    Totally. But, I'd take a dry cleaner and a Subway shop over a cash advance place or a used book store. My building has a Rabba, a dry cleaner and Red Rocket coffee house. I like the Rabba there and the coffee house is a godsend. But, it would be nice if we had more room for a pub or a restaurant or something along the lines of that.
     
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  7. Tewder

    Tewder Senior Member

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    Also, there are many here who aspire to a 'Manhattan' ideal in the urban form, which would favour bold street walls and urban canyons rather than point towers with podiums.
     
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  8. SP!RE

    SP!RE °°°°°°

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    In Vancouver, there are many podiums with unique and creative retail spaces that seem to attract a great diversity of tenants. We need to do more of that in Toronto.
     
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  9. MisterF

    MisterF Senior Member

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    It's not just the retail spaces, it's the design of the whole podium. There are a lot of common design elements that retail streets all over the world tend to have in common - strong retail signage, recessed shop entrances, architecture that emphasizes the vertical instead of the horizontal, etc. Those things are all good for pedestrians and retail and they're often missing on new condo podiums.

    The streetscaping is often done all wrong too. Take Malibu or 18 Yonge for example. They both have landscape beds separating the sidewalk from the retail space with the sidewalk right against the street. So what you end up with is people walking right next to traffic and obstacles between them and the retail. The landscape beds should buffer the sidewalk from the street and the sidewalk should be right against the storefronts. The Bloor rebuild was done like that.

    The little details can make a big difference.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
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  10. syn

    syn Senior Member

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    Exactly.

    Podiums aren't bad per-say, they're just poorly implemented in many cases around the city.
     
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  11. Lansdown

    Lansdown Banned

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    I have no issue with podiums per se either but it really helps what their a podium for and if it's not a super tall then watch out :mad:

    haha jk :cool:
     
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  12. Mississauga Slim

    Mississauga Slim Active Member

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    One of the important skills in comedy is knowing when a joke is starting to run on too long.

    Respectfully,

    MS
     
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  13. Lansdown

    Lansdown Banned

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    hehehe
     
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  14. College Park

    College Park Active Member

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    Condo entrances that are grand but locked off are gated entrances: I live here because I love the downtown, not because Im a gluckstein fan. Keep nasty bland entrances down to a dull roar, and give me restos, Bulldogs, and good burritos.
     
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