As we near the end of 2011, we have the daunting task of looking back and reflecting on what developments and projects sparked the most conversation amongst city builders and urban design junkies, those that signaled a distinct shift in how we interact with and perceive Toronto. Our spotlight today looks towards a project which, when announced, changed how we approached the east end of downtown Toronto. River City condos, developed by Urban Capital Property Group and designed by Saucier + Perrotte architects along with Zas architects is the highly anticipated development coming to the new West Don Lands community.

River City condos Toronto by Urban Capital and Saucier + Perrotte Architects

River City is a project composed of three phases: phase one contains 350 units; phase two will have a total of 248 units; and phase three info yet to be released. Perched on the edge of the rehabilitating Don River, phase one and two are designed to be two contrasting yet complementary buildings. Phase one's dark and edgy exterior creates a frame around phase two's white-clad sleek facade.

River City condos Toronto by Urban Capital and Saucier + Perrotte ArchitectsPhase 2 with phase 1 in the background

The architects drew inspiration from the site's industrial past, as well as the existing infrastructure that surrounds the area. The Don Valley Parkway, Eastern Avenue, and King Street bridge presented an opportunity to the architects; they could either ignore them by turning the project inwards, or embrace their unique forms, materiality and inherent modernist aesthetics, as Saucier + Perrotte have done.

River City condos Toronto by Urban Capital and Saucier + Perrotte ArchitectsPhase 1 through 3, looking east

The amenities at River City pull inspiration from the surrounding landscape and future visions for the neighbourhood. A variety of green courtyard spaces fill the voids between the structures and connect River City to the surrounding trail system that will eventually lead to the developments that are being built south of King Street. The building will contain an outdoor pool and dining area, a two-storey lounge and party room, fitness facilities and a guest suite. The developers are in the process of applying for LEED Gold carbon-neutral certification, being the first such residential development in Canada.

River City condos Toronto by Urban Capital and Saucier + Perrotte Architects

River City's phase one is expected to be complete by next year, with phase two slated for 2014. The larger West Don Lands development by Waterfront Toronto offers a chance for the city to redeem itself following a century defined by some of the most detrimental public urban plans that are only now beginning to be tackled. By encouraging the private and public sector to work together to build communities that serve a variety of people and purposes, the city and WaterfrontTO seem, so far, to be on the right track towards buidling a successful neighbourhood. We're looking forward to seeing the first phase of River City upon completion, and can't wait for the development of the West Don Lands to be realized.

River City condos Toronto by Urban Capital and Saucier + Perrotte ArchitectsLarger West Don Lands development, with River City in lower right

Keep an eye out here for more photos, and check out the dataBase listing below to see the full range of renderings we've received for this project.