Peter Street Condominiums | 129.84m | 40s | CentreCourt | architectsAlliance

vegeta_skyline

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Two separate issues here.

1) Quality of an architectural firm is not necessarily related to whether an intended twin project is issued.

Not to worry I fully understand that. You could say its merely a coincidental connection that aA happens to be the architect for many of those twin+ projects that I have a distaste for. And its not that I dislike all twin/trio/quad projects. Its just the sheer predominance and banality of many them in this city that I have issues with.

Until recently Teeple & RAW's portfolio have mainly comprised of boutique mid-rise projects. Though playful and enjoyable, those designs match up relative to aA's work in that realm

Respectfully disagree. Not saying that aA falls flat in that regard, as I take no issue with their lowrise work. But I prefer Teeple & RAW's work over theirs in that realm. They just have a playful exuberance and flair that I feel is unmatched, but undoubtedly personal preferences come into play here.

Also, you mentioned "higher profile projects". For the most part, Murano & Peter St, etc. are not high profile projects so why bother pointing that out.

I didn't mean "higher profile" strictly in terms of how well known a project is but also by how noticeable they are/will be in the urban environment.

2) Reoccurring design elements are evident in most firms' work in the city for residential projects. DSAI, whose tame but respectful aesthetics for institutional buildings, also translates into repetitive residential designs (ie. Charlie, Pace, 57 Spadina).

I'm not simply referring to buildings that employ reoccurring design elements, I'm referring to buildings that have the virtually identical appearance and massing. Charlie & Pace would indeed be an example of such, but 57 Spadina has an entirely different massing from them. So there's one example DSAI churning out separate projects with virtually the same design & massing. Just how many time has aA done that? Radio City/18 Yorkville, The Casa trio/501 Youge, Spire/Pure Spirits/U condo's, Murano/Peter st and Karma + King Charlotte(aside from that ridiculous mech box) borrow heavily from the same pool of design elements. That's a ridiculous amount of knockoffs. Perhaps its not fair to compare DSAI, a firm more closely associated with institutional projects, to one associated with residential one. But you just don't see that kind of repetition in say HP's portfolio of projects. Seems they've somehow managed to play the "condo game" and play it well without letting it hamper their creativity.


Not addressed by AlbertC is that you would find few people who would consider your list of 'elite' firms complete, and in fact many would consider aA an elite firm

That list is not exactly a complete list of firms that I would consider "elite". But rather a sampling of company's that are heavily involved in the Toronto market with multiple projects and that I have a preference for design-wise. I'm well aware that many people on UT would consider aA an elite firm in that regard, but to me they are a tier below. That's not to say that aA isn't capable of or doesn't produce 'elite' buildings i.e. 4 Season, ICE, Pier 27 and obviously their attention to detail is top notch, but that alone doesn't 'do it' for me. I'm also not suggesting that everything Teeple/RAW/S-P/DSAI/HP produce is fantastic either. I just think they have a better ratio of project that I consider aesthetically pleasing vs those that don't inspire me at all.
 

junctionist

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So, the intimation is that Teeple is doing what he wants and Clewes isn't? Ot that Clewes just does what he does for the money? Sorry, but I think that's preposterous, construed out of ignorance, and insulting. You may not value aA modernism to the degree that you do Teeple, but to merely put the difference down to creative expression versus volume production is obnoxious for its blind arrogance.

Don't get so frayed. It's an important factor that determines what a firm designs and its commissions. It comes down to the personal values of the heads of the firm. Teeple has developed a better portfolio. Clewes has probably gotten more business. I consider what they've done in these respects to be good. They should be satisfied with those aspects of their businesses. However, the best direction is to get a lot of business and produce work with a lot of creative expression and variations. I know it's true and possible. I see no reason to insult and have not done so.
 

whatever

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That's not to say that aA isn't capable of or doesn't produce 'elite' buildings i.e. 4 Season, ICE, Pier 27 and obviously their attention to detail is top notch, but that alone doesn't 'do it' for me.

I've worked on aA buildings, as well as buildings from many other of the big firms around town, and my experience has always been that the developer and general contractor have much more of an impact on the "attention to detail" than the architect. Compare Clear Spirits (aA/Tucker) to Ice (aA/EllisDon) to see the difference.
 

AlbertC

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Not to worry I fully understand that. You could say its merely a coincidental connection that aA happens to be the architect for many of those twin+ projects that I have a distaste for. And its not that I dislike all twin/trio/quad projects. Its just the sheer predominance and banality of many them in this city that I have issues with.



Respectfully disagree. Not saying that aA falls flat in that regard, as I take no issue with their lowrise work. But I prefer Teeple & RAW's work over theirs in that realm. They just have a playful exuberance and flair that I feel is unmatched, but undoubtedly personal preferences come into play here.



I didn't mean "higher profile" strictly in terms of how well known a project is but also by how noticeable they are/will be in the urban environment.



I'm not simply referring to buildings that employ reoccurring design elements, I'm referring to buildings that have the virtually identical appearance and massing. Charlie & Pace would indeed be an example of such, but 57 Spadina has an entirely different massing from them. So there's one example DSAI churning out separate projects with virtually the same design & massing. Just how many time has aA done that? Radio City/18 Yorkville, The Casa trio/501 Youge, Spire/Pure Spirits/U condo's, Murano/Peter st and Karma + King Charlotte(aside from that ridiculous mech box) borrow heavily from the same pool of design elements. That's a ridiculous amount of knockoffs. Perhaps its not fair to compare DSAI, a firm more closely associated with institutional projects, to one associated with residential one. But you just don't see that kind of repetition in say HP's portfolio of projects. Seems they've somehow managed to play the "condo game" and play it well without letting it hamper their creativity.




That list is not exactly a complete list of firms that I would consider "elite". But rather a sampling of company's that are heavily involved in the Toronto market with multiple projects and that I have a preference for design-wise. I'm well aware that many people on UT would consider aA an elite firm in that regard, but to me they are a tier below. That's not to say that aA isn't capable of or doesn't produce 'elite' buildings i.e. 4 Season, ICE, Pier 27 and obviously their attention to detail is top notch, but that alone doesn't 'do it' for me. I'm also not suggesting that everything Teeple/RAW/S-P/DSAI/HP produce is fantastic either. I just think they have a better ratio of project that I consider aesthetically pleasing vs those that don't inspire me at all.

Selective quotations aside, I've already addressed those issues in my previous post. I haven't denied the recurrence of design motifs, nor denied my appreciation for the work by other top firms in the city. The rest as you said is simply personal preferences. One snippet you missed though was my interpretation on the restriction of creativity on certain projects. Some of aA's earlier works (ie. SP!RE, 18 Yorkville) stand us successes recognized throughout the industry for around a decade now. No doubt that contemporary minimalism isn't everyone's cup of tea, but such general approval has translated to other developers switching over to their services. Cresford and Lanterra for example are companies who have tremendous presence in the downtown condo market in the last 10 years and influenced to converting to aA as their "go-to" firm. Both of them are notably en masse developers that have commanded large volume developments that can be seen as repetitive (ie. Casa& Murano). Almost equivalent to an assembly line of continual condo development. What developers like that have valued are a clean, contemporary and functional product that can be marketable. Even if that has meant ie. 3 phases intended of Casa, which understandably can be frustrating be some. Such scrutiny has also been undoubtedly magnified due to the even increasing number of developer "going for that look". Overall, the delivered product is greatly influenced by the "job order" as one may call it. And as I've mentioned earlier, under different circumstances where innovation is encouraged, aA has delivered in that regards. Even though much of the time, it is restricted before it reaches the public eye or marketing pages.
 
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ProjectEnd

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Don't get so frayed. It's an important factor that determines what a firm designs and its commissions. It comes down to the personal values of the heads of the firm. Teeple has developed a better portfolio. Clewes has probably gotten more business. I consider what they've done in these respects to be good. They should be satisfied with those aspects of their businesses. However, the best direction is to get a lot of business and produce work with a lot of creative expression and variations. I know it's true and possible. I see no reason to insult and have not done so.

You're just repeating yourself. 42's point was that both firms are doing what they believe to be "getting a lot of business" while "proudc[ing] work with a lot of creative expression and variations." It's fine to prefer the work one firm over the other but simply stating that "Teeple has developed a better portfolio" while "Clewes has probably gotten more business" is ridiculous and lends the post an air of unearned authority.

Would you say that Chipperfield is 'less creative' than Zaha because of their respective portfolios? Adjaye v. MAD? Foster v. Alsop? Many believe Zumthor to be one of the best practitioners working today but by your and Vegeta's logic, all he's able to churn out are a 'buncha' borin' boxes.'
 

junctionist

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It doesn't matter what the firms believe gets a lot of business. What matters is objective reality. One gets a lot of business; one gets less. If you simplify what you make, you can make it more palatable to a wide variety of tastes. The minimalist design language of aA is more likely to appeal to a variety of developers. There's nothing to say that Teeple can't do what aA does in terms of volume; however, aA is more likely to produce high volumes regardless of whether they even take that into consideration. I see so much good in each firm that the matter of who's better isn't particularly relevant in this conversation.

Now, my opinion. For a higher volume firm, aA makes Toronto a better place. They produce consistently attractive and sophisticated designs that meet the street well and have great cladding. They do a lot of work and keep the quality high. Teeple, however, has produced more interesting buildings in the past 10 years and will probably have a better legacy over the next 50-100 years. The Stephen Hawking Centre, Picasso, 60 Richmond, the Scarborough Baptist Church and the Heathdale House are all singular projects. Teeple's use of geometric forms, materials and texture, and colour make his buildings outstanding.
 

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Well, speaking of 'objective reality,' you do know that it is more difficult technically to achieve an excellent minimalism than it is to pop a bunch of 'geometric forms' together in a pleasing way. There's a reason Taniguchi has been quoted (in the context of the new MoMA) that: "Raise a lot of money for me, and I'll give you very good architecture. Raise even more, and I'll make the architecture disappear." When there's less to distract the eye, it becomes ever more critical. I agree that Teeple does produce some good buildings in terms of their plastic form but it's precisely because the firm is so focused on that image that the details suffer. Connections, for example, in Teeple buildings are quietly, if persistently, derided in the industry because the firm is so fundamentally about a single postcard image that everything else suffers. Laypeople (Vegeta, Red October/The_Architect) seem to look at aA's work and think 'well how hard could that be, it's just a box,' when in reality, theirs is actually the more technically proficient structure.

Again, I'll bring up Taniguchi, Piano, SANAA, Chipperfield, Zumthor and Adjaye as but a few examples of firms that don't seem to give you much up front, but that over time, actually give you so much more. Perhaps the most beautiful building I have ever entered was the breathtaking Abbazia di Sant'Antimo, a monastery near Montalcino which was constructed in parts from the sixth or seventh century into the twelfth. What I found so compelling was the absolute simplicity of the place. The patient attention to detail gives the spaces an incredibly cerebral, Rothko-y effect that's impossible not to get lost in. Just when you think you've gotten a sense of the place, you come across an anomalous brick formation or an odd carving or a piece of graffiti that you can't tell is from 1350 or 1830 or 1956 and you start to think hard about time and the meaning of things beyond the building's stone walls. Whereas St. Peters dazzles visually with its gold leaf and impressive Baldacchino, the effect wears of pretty quickly and you're just left thinking: 'sheesh, this is a really big room.'

The point of all this isn't to say that some condo is going to make you think about the meaning of life, but merely that there is something far more compelling about a quiet, excellently constructed building which reveals itself through it's details than one that waves its hands in the air while doing backflips. Teeple have some nice work in their portfolio, as have aA (and cities certainly need both), but to simply write of the latter as a competent, if repetitive, 'high-volume'-production-line misses (in my opinion) the point of what they're trying to do. Your post allows for some nice caveats and I think a lot of this does just come down to personal preference but your fundamental point still seems to be that 'Teeple will better stand the test of time than will aA' and about that I could not disagree more.
 

AlbertC

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Nice treatment indeed, really helps ease the transition and integration of the transfer slab. Should look quite sharp once the base is framed with the black cladding.
 

kram74

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