Ealier this month, we asked our readers to vote for their favourite residential buildings to have been completed in Toronto in 2015. Voters were given the ability to select up to five of the candidates from each of three categories; WELL GROUNDED: 4-12 storeys, TALL-ish: 14-21 storeys, and TALL: 23-67 storeys. With polling now closed, we are pleased to share the winners!
The WELL GROUNDED: 4-12 storeys category featured some small yet impressive buildings, many boasting interesting designs that have kept their Forum threads lively despite their smaller stature. The three top-voted projects in this category all exhibit unique architectural characteristics. Runner-up Abacus Lofts—designed by Quadrangle and RAW for DAZ—and BSäR's third place Core Architects-designed 12 Degrees both boast unconventional angles that put a skew on the traditional rectangular box form of a mid-rise condo.
With 61.5% of voters choosing it, nearly doubling the votes of the runner-up, our top-ranking project is River City Phase 2. It also puts a spin on the traditional mid-rise form, but here it's a full 90°, pivoting some units at the corners to look north or south instead of east or west. River City Phase 2, designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architectes and ZAS Architects for UrbanCapital, also divides its massing into three 12-storey volumes, while its white aluminum cladding cannily blends into the widows through graduated fritting.
Favourite: River City Phase 2 (12 storeys)
Runner-Up: Abacus Lofts (8 storeys)
3rd Place: 12 Degrees (11 storeys)
We received fewer votes in the middle-ground TALL-ish: 14-21 storeys category than either for the Well Grounded or Tall categories. We suspect that this means those voting were not as moved by the designs in this group, as the winner in this category, while pulling in just shy of 50% more votes than the runner up, still didn't obliterate the competition like in the Well Grounded list.
Here, the runner-up, Alterra's Wallman Architects-designed Post House Condos appeared on the lists of 25% of the voters while Canderel and Tricon's third place DNA3, designed by Graziani + Corazza, appeared on 20.5%. Our winner, The Carnaby, a 20-storey tower from Streetcar Developments' and designed by TACT Architecture in Toronto's West Queen West area, won over 36.4% of our voters. The Carnaby—which sports particularly clean lines—is the latest phase of Streetcar's buildings at Queen and Dufferin, and will be joined by remaining phases in 2016, with the promise of significant public realm enhancements through new mid-block connections, new retail, and a new park.
Favourite: The Carnaby (20 storeys)
Runner-Up: Post House Condos (21 storeys)
3rd Place: DNA3 (15 storeys)
Not surprisingly, our TALL: 23-67 storeys category attracted the most votes of all, with three of the tallest candidates contending for the title of number one. While height doesn't count for everything, it is in fact the tallest development which has taken our top prize, and the runner up and third place are amongst the next tallest buildings competing. We'll stray one number further down the list here to prove a point though: there are another ten entries taller than our fourth place finisher, which was The Yorkville Condominiums. The Lifetime Developments' Wallman Architects-designed building is characterized by unique angles and colouration, which helped bump it far higher in voters' estimation than the more typical boxes that place above it in Toronto's skyline sweepstakes.
Back to the podium placements though: our third place finisher shares both a developer and an architect with our fourth place finisher. At 49-storeys, X2 Condominiums, designed by Wallman for Lifetime and Great Gulf Homes, took third place for its admired evocation of Toronto's iconic TD Centre towers by Mies van der Rohe. Sporadically placed dashes of primary colour on the building's minimal spandrel panels add a playful note to the composition which separates it (and phase one 'X') from the sober office towers it is designed to resemble.
Our runner up, the 47-storey Theatre Park, and our winner the 57 and 67-storey Ïce Condominiums towers also share something in common, and that's their architect, Toronto's noted modernists architectsAlliance. Theatre Park's rise on the skyline across from Roy Thomson Hall was followed closely throughout the construction process by shutterbug contributors to the UrbanToronto Forum for the striking lattice-like diagonal banding which rises up the sheer east and west walls of the glass tower. While renderings of the building (including the one below) promised a cantilevered tensegrity structure would extend the banding to the full height of the stepped-back mechanical penthouse, the final build-out forewent the cantilevered portion. Based on the disappointed feedback to that move on UrbanToronto's Forum thread for the project, one can speculate that Theatre Park may have been the very favourite tower completed last year had the tensegrity structure been completed as shown. Theatre Park was built by Lamb Development Corp, Niche Development, and Harhay Developments.
Our winner is the 57 and 67-storey towers of Lanterra Developments' Ïce. While, as with Theatre Park, there remain some finishing touches still to be applied, Ïce's commanding addition to the Toronto skyline this year inspired photo after photo after photo from our invaluable Forum contributors. With their slim, sleek, and arced forms and distinctive "Swiss cheese" roof features, the two towers captured the attention of many, especially when dramatically lit at nighttime, and when viewed in "postcard" fashion from the Toronto Islands. Ïce ran away with votes from 61.9% of all voters on the poll, compared with 48.3% for Theatre Park and declining numbers for the followers.
Favourite: Ïce Condominiums (67 + 57 storeys)
Runner-Up: Theatre Park (47 storeys)
3rd Place: X2 Condominiums (49 storeys)
Congratulations to all involved in creating our favourite buildings from the last year. UrbanToronto members appreciate carefully considered designs that go beyond the ordinary, and which feature high-quality materials and cladding systems. The attention to detail and to public engagement is recognized.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our year-end polls. We look forward to another year of Toronto's growth, and twelve months from now will have another roster of recent completions to rate. In the meantime, you can learn more about 2015's top projects by visiting their dataBase files and associated Forum threads, linked below.
What's your take on the winners and the also-rans? Do the results reflect your personal preferences, or did one of your favourites not make the cut? You're invited to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.