With the recent addition of Aura, the city's tallest residential tower, along with that of several other highrise projects now underway in Toronto's formerly quieter Yonge-College area, two side-by-side projects—Karma Condos and YC Condos—stand out among the rest as a symbol of things to come for this quickly evolving corner of the city. More than simply being evocative of the changing face of the city, these two projects also represent the relatively recent uptick in a trend towards building with—rather than against—the grain of the city's existing built heritage. 

Karma Condos, Lifetime Developments, architectsAlliance, TorontoKarma Condos, exterior view showing heritage element, rendering courtesy of architectsAlliance

YC Condos, Canderal, Graziani + Corazza Architects, TorontoYC Condos, exterior view revealing attempt to blend with adjacent heritage structure, rendering courtesy of Canderal

In the case of Karma, designed by architectsAlliance for Lifetime Developments and CentreCourt Developments, as reported by us back in 2013, the heritage-designated, 1871-built John Irwin House was moved from one side of the excavation site to the other, and supported on massive concrete posts while the parking garage was built underneath it. The 140-year-old Victorian brick home is now undergoing an extensive exterior restoration, including most recently, the restoration/recreation of the original slate roof and exterior brickwork. Once complete, the restored historic home will serve as a feature space for retail or dining, its final purpose yet to be announced. 

Karma Condos, Lifetime Developments, architectsAlliance, TorontoJohn Irwin House supported by concrete posts as seen in 2013, image by Forum member RiverCity1

Karma Condos, Lifetime Developments, architectsAlliance, TorontoJohn Irwin House with slate roof and exterior brickwork restoration nearing completion, image by Forum member G. L. 17

Captured late last month, the latest images of Karma reveal the tower at just about its full height, the imminent topping-off of the 50-storey tower, which lacks only a mechanical penthouse, made all the more dramatic by the rapidly climbing exterior glazing which now covers a significant portion of the structure. With the tower nearing completion, the relationship between it and the John Irwin House are much clearer, the images below showing the two structures both from afar and up close. Nestled close to its new neighbour, the historic John Irwin House fits snugly below a built-in overhang towards the bottom of the tower, allowing the heritage structure to co-exist with the modern condo tower. 

Karma Condos, Lifetime Developments, architectsAlliance, TorontoKarma approaching full height, image by Forum member G. L. 17

Karma Condos, Lifetime Developments, architectsAlliance, TorontoJohn Irwin House nestled close to its new neighbour, image by Forum member G. L. 17

Next door at the YC Condos site—YC stands for Yonge and College or Yonge and Carlton, and is designed by Graziani + Corazza Architects for Canderel—excavation continues. Progress is evidenced by the efforts now well underway to shore up the pit to and dig down to the final subterranean level. While it will still be some time (completion estimated for late 2017) before YC Condos are finished, curious onlookers can be satisfied that substantial work has been accomplished, and will now be able to track the tower's progress at it reaches its various construction milestones.

YC Condos, Canderal, Graziani + Corazza Architects, TorontoYC Condos excavation site (right), with John Irwin House (left) visible, image by Forum member Benito

YC Condos, Canderal, Graziani + Corazza Architects, TorontoYC Condos excavation site, image by Forum member Benito

Renderings show the podium level of the 60+ storey tower maintaining the same height—and thus giving the illusion of similar massing—to the adjacent 1892-built Oddfellows Hall to the south. In addition to this, the distinct rust-coloured panelling of the podium level will make a direct reference to the reddish-brown brick exterior of the well-known heritage structure and Toronto landmark. 

YC Condos, Canderal, Graziani + Corazza Architects, TorontoYC Condos excavation site in context with Oddfellows Hall, John Irwin House, and Karma, image by Forum member G. L. 17

While not as involved as the steps taken at Karma, the efforts underway at YC are equally representative of a more positive modern/heritage engagement of late which is taking root at more and more developments across the city. 

Once complete, Karma Condos will bring 50 storeys and 495 units to the area, its location at 21 Grenville St. just off of Yonge to allow the new residential tower to loom large over the existing streetscape, while simultaneously blending into its surrounding urban context. Next door, with frontage directly onto Yonge, the notably taller YC Condos will add a 66th storey indoor pool and 600 more units to the area, the two projects together to add nearly 1,100 units to the rapidly changing Yonge-College corridor.

UrbanToronto will continue to provide updates on these and other projects in the area as development continues. For more information check out the dataBase file or join the discussion either within the associated Forum thread, or in the comments section below.