"I haven't noticed it." That's the response Patrick J. Quigley typically gets when discussing the development at Toronto's 7 St. Thomas. "Are you sure it's at Bay and Bloor?" is a typical follow-up, the St. Thomas Commercial Developments Presidents notes. "People often tell me they haven't noticed it," he adds, "but when you stand in front of it, you certainly notice it."

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniLooking southeast from the corner of St. Thomas and Sultan, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

Surrounded by the Bay Street corridor's towers, the 9-storey Hariri Pontarini-designed office condo project is easy to miss. If you happen upon it, though, it's hard to take your eyes off it. Sequestered away on the quiet corner of St. Thomas and Sultan, the translucent and undulating glazing above is an elegant counterpoint to the preserved brick character Victorian townhome façades below.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniA closer look at the glazing, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

The contrast between the solidity of the red brick below with the translucent permeability of the glass tower—which steps back from the Victorian frontages—succeeds in highlighting both typologies. The discrete tower's curtain wall is also strongly characterized by its enamel fritting. Wrapping the body of the building, the frit lends the smooth upper levels an eye-catching aesthetic.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniThe tower is set back from the restored Victorian frontages, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

Moving inside, the interiors remain in a raw state. While pre-deilivery inspections are getting underway this week—and the commercial condominium units will be delivered to tenants by the end of the year—the interiors will be finished by individual suite owners, with occupancy expected in 2017. 

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniVehicle exit on Sultan Street, image by Stefan Novakovic

Beginning our tour on the top level, the entire 9th floor (and half of the level below) will be occupied by a single owner. Though still an expansive—and rather high-ceilinged—shell, the curving windows are an immediate focal point of the space, and will certainly remain so once the building's 40-odd tenants move in. From inside, the frit's tapered horizontal lines become apparent.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniLooking west from the 9th floor, image by Stefan Novakovic

The baked-on enamel rises to match the height of a desk, leaving sightlines open above, with the frit contributing both an aesthetic framing and a slightly enhanced sense of privacy.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniA 5th floor office, image by Stefan Novakovic

Though the effect is visually striking—albeit in a subtle way—the fritted curtain wall is also a fairly efficient cladding material.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniLooking east, image by Stefan Novakovic

While the frit minimizes solar heat gain, the glass is designed to retain heat in the winter, with the project targeting a LEED Gold certification.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniA closer view through the glass, image by Stefan Novakovic

Across the lower levels, the transition from the glassy tower to the 19th-century façades is negotiated by stone elements and more richly coloured vertical frit. At street level, meanwhile, the public realm improvements are yet to take shape, with granite pavers eventually set to frame both sides of Sultan Street.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniLooking northwest across Sultan Street, image by Stefan Novakovic

The historic townhomes will be fronted by two rows of street trees, with a small public plaza coming to the south side of the street. "We're hoping it'll be a really intimate experience," says Quigley, describing the luxuriously appointed public realm—featuring landscaping by gh3—coming to the quiet street.

7 St. Thomas, Toronto, by St. Thomas Commercial Developments, Hariri PontariniLooking west, image by Stefan Novakovic

Inside, the reconstructed townhomes have been maintained as individual office suites, attempting to preserve the quality of space within old homes. While original interiors can almost never be fully recreated behind a restored façade—and there are some awkward spaces behind the old brick—the hope is that breaking up the lower levels into smaller multi-level commercial suites will help foster a fine-grained street-level experience. 

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We will keep you updated as construction continues, and the street level begins to take shape. In the meantime, further information is available via our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space on the page, or join the conversation in our Forum, where regular photo updates can also be found.