Charlie is amongst the most handsome new condominium buildings currently completing in Toronto. The 36-storey King Street West project designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects for developer Great Gulf has been on the radar screen at UrbanToronto for quite a while owing in part to its high-profile location and the intense interest in filling in a gap in both the streetwall of the rapidly regenerating area and in adding retail frontage that will bring new shops to the growing population in the neighbourhood.

Street realm at Charlie Condos Toronto by Diamond Schmitt for Great GulfStreet realm at Charlie Condos, image by urbandreamer

Over the last months we have watched as street level details at Charlie were revealed, including the installation of a row of planters on each of King and Charlotte streets, as well as the lovely board-formed white concrete half-wall marking the residential address of the condominiums. A warm wood-grain pattern is forever imprinted in the object which doubles as a banch and which welcomes people to the building.

Street realm at Charlie Condos Toronto by Diamond Schmitt for Great GulfStreet realm at Charlie Condos, image by urbandreamer

The most recent ingredient added to this building's pedestrian-realm is the sculpture 'Ballast' by sculptor Jed Lind, a Torontonian who currently resides in Los Angeles. Rising like a skeletal ship's bow, the five-metre tall bronze sculpture marks the corner of King and Charlotte Streets in the building's forecourt.

Ballast by Jed Lind arrives at Charlie Condos Toronto by Great GulfBallast by Jed Lind arrives at Charlie Condos, image by rdaner

Lind's inspiration for the work were the very changes that buildings like Charlie have brought to the area. "I wanted to make a work that looks at the transformation of this King Street corridor from a once productive commercial/industrial corridor to the dynamic cultural hub it is today," said Lind. "In this transformed neighbourhood, high-rise buildings like the Charlie condos where Ballast stands are the homes of this new creative class."

Ballast by Jed Lind arrives at Charlie Condos Toronto by Great GulfBallast by Jed Lind arrives at Charlie Condos, image by rdaner

Ballast was selected by a panel of highly respected art professionals in a competition for the Charlie public art space. Panel members included: Barbara Astman, one of Canada's most respected artists, a member of the Board of Trustees at the Art Gallery of Ontario and a professor in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University; long-time Curator Asset Management president, Kathryn Minard; Kelvin Browne, vice president of marketing and major exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum; and Donald Schmitt, co-founding partner at Diamond Schmitt Architects. Geoffrey Matthews and Dragana Maznic from Great Gulf were also on the panel.

Charlie Condos Toronto by Diamond Schmitt for Great GulfBallast by Jed Lind at Charlie Condos, image by urbandreamer

Alan Vihant, Senior Vice President of High-Rise Development for Great Gulf commented, "Great public art is one of the requirements of a great city. Mr. Lind's Ballast is an excellent complement to an already vibrant neighbourhood."

Toronto's Percent for Public Art program means that every large development must include money set aside for  public realm improvements around the building. Developers take pains to find art that will engage both residents and passersby and which will create a sense of place. A good piece of public art should enhance its surroundings by infusing them with human expression, bringing with it the implicit invitation for people to gather and interact.

Charlie Condos Toronto by Diamond Schmitt for Great GulfBallast by Jed Lind at Charlie Condos, image by urbandreamer

There are still a number of touches to complete in the paving around the artwork and to the base of the building, and shops and a cafe are still to open. We'll be back to take another look when more is in place.

Want to know more about Charlie? Click on our dataBase page link below for all the renderings and details, or get in on the discussion in one of our Forum threads through the associated links.