Around these parts, we've never seen a surface parking lot we've liked very much, so it's always good to return to a plot of land where a new development is coming to the rescue of a part of town that's been scarred by too much asphalt. Studio, and its taller sibling Studio2, is an Aspen Ridge Homes project that fits that description to a tee, now under construction between Richmond and Nelson Streets a couple blocks west of University Avenue in Toronto's core.

The former parking lot where Studio and Studio2 are being built, Google MpasThe former parking lot where Studio and Studio2 are being built, image from Google Maps

Condominium projects are transforming the city's Entertainment District, with new towers rising amidst the brick warehouses that became the city's clubland in the 1990s. Studio plus Studio2 are now filling in the largest of the parking lots, and the largest gap in the area's urban fabric. Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the project will bring a pair of towers, 31 and 41 storeys high, rising over podiums that will give Richmond and Nelson Streets significant street walls.

Aspen Ridge's Studio2, at left, with Studio condos and their podiums, TorontoTaller Studio2, at left, with Studio and their podiums. Note the garage door… image by Craig White

We visited the project work site late last year with Armin Osmanovic, Project Manager for Aspen Ridge Homes, to take a look at the progress so far, and where we started our tour isn't a particularly pretty spot, but there it is below, the garage entrance which was indicated between the two phases in the image above.

The entry to Studio's garage, image by Craig WhiteThe entry to Studio's garage, image by Craig White

Garage shots end up in few UrbanToronto hard hat tour stories; they're not typically all the bright or all that interesting interesting inside. Even here, where it looks like just a lot of concrete, the first level down is particularly high. We know not too many people are going to be that excited, but if you do drive, then parking here in the future you will find that this level will feature public pay parking spots, and that this will likely feel like the most open airy garage in the whole downtown.

A double-height floor in the bright garage at Studio condos, TorontoA double-height floor in the bright garage, image by Craig White

At the moment, it's particularly open and airy. That's a temporary situation though, as we are looking out towards the excavation put where the 41-storey Studio2 tower will rise, the last component of this complex to go under construction.

Looking from the garage to the excavation pit for Studio2 condos TorontoLooking from the garage to the excavation pit for Studio2, image by Craig White

Moving right up to the edge of the pit, and waving the camera about to take a panorama of the scene, here's what you get:

Studio2 condos Toronto starts to grow from its excavation pitStudio2 starts to grow from its excavation pit, image by Craig White

Armin explains for us in the video below some of the activity going on at the bottom of the pit.

Here's a close-up of some of that work. You can see a couple of workers involved with creating the foundation for the tower, with baskets of rebar being set up to form the first columns rising out of the footings below, which plunge into the Dundas shale that underpins Toronto.

Work proceeds on a footing for Studio2 condos Toronto by Aspen Ridge HomesWork proceeds on a footing for Studio2, image by Craig White

Walking around to the west side of the pit and looking back at the parking garage, this fish-eye view shows you pretty much the whole of the six-storey excavation.

Studio2 condos Toronto starts to grow from its excavation pitStudio2 starts to grow from its excavation pit, image by Craig White

We are back inside again, and this time at ground level, and looking toward the Studio2 site once more. The right half of this image will be the building's loading facilities. To the left, we see that back of townhomes which will face Nelson Street along the south side. An internal hallway will run along the ground floor between the townhomes and the loading area, and of course, walls will seal all of this off.

Looking from the loading area to the excavation pit for Studio2 condos TorontoLooking from the loading area to the excavation pit for Studio2, image by Craig White

The ground floor of the side of Studio that faces Richmond Street won't feature townhomes, but will be the home of a new gallery for OCAD University. One of OCAD U's buildings is immediately to the west of this building, while more are across the street. Just a couple blocks south of their famous table-top Will Alsop-designed building, OCAD U has been expanding into a number of the converted former commercial office/warehouse buildings in the Entertainment District. This space will give the school a modern, purpose built and outfitted space to display work by the students and alumni.

The ground floor at Studio, where the OCAD U gallery will be, image by Craig WhiThe ground floor at Studio, where the OCAD U gallery will be, image by Craig White

Spinning around we get an idea of what some of the early outfitting of this building entails: wires of various types, and plenty of them. Five different colours are gradually being unspooled here, to be threaded through walls and above ceilings.

Coloured wiring ready to be installed at Studio condos, Toronto by Aspen RidgeColoured wiring ready to be installed, image by Craig White

One storey up, we are now out on the deck above the loading area which will separate the two phases of Studio. The red crane to the south is building the Studio2 podium, the white crane to the left stands in the Studio2 tower excavation pit.

Between Studio's towers, Toronto condos by Aspen Ridge HomesBetween Studio's towers, image by Craig White

On this floor we get a look at some of the space which will eventually become condo suites…

Space on the second floor which will become suites at Studio condos, TorontoSpace on the second floor which will become condo suites at Studio, image by Craig White

…while heading out to the edge of the building gives us a view down Richmond Street.

Overlooking Richmond Street at Studio condos Toronto by Aspen Ridge HomesOverlooking Richmond Street at Studio, image by Craig White

A number of UrbanToronto contributors have been passing by Studio in the last few weeks and posting images in our Projects & Construction Forum thread for Studio. These following two images by Indrid Cold show the building from above and across Richmond Street…

Preparing to pour another floor at Studio condos Toronto in DecemberPreparing to pour another floor at Studio in December, image by Indrid Cold

Studio condos Toronto and the local skyline in DecemberStudio and the local skyline in December, image by Indrid Cold

…while this view by RiverCity1 brings us up to date to January 4, 2013 looking southwest across Richmond.

Looking west along Richmond; Studio condos Toronto at the beginning of JanuaryLooking west along Richmond; Studio at the beginning of January, image by Indrid Cold

Want to learn more about Studio and Studio2? UrbanToronto's dataBase file for the project, linked below, includes renderings of the finished project and lots of information about the buildings' features and many amenities. Want to talk about the development? Join the discussion in one of the associated Forum threads, or add your comment in the space provided on this page.